AMD said its expanded Kria system-on-module portfolio reduces energy use and supports its robotics strategy.
By Eugene Demaitre September 19, 2023
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. today announced the AMD Kria K24 System-on-Module, or SOM, and the KD240 Drives Starter Kit, the latest additions to its Kria portfolio of adaptive SOMs and developer kits.
The AMD Kria K24 SOM offers power-efficient compute in a small size for cost-sensitive industrial and commercial edge applications, said the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company. The KD240 Drives Starter Kit is a motor control-based developer platform designed to be ready to use out of the box, according to AMD.
The two new products enable developers to bring motor control and DSP (digital signal processing) applications to market faster without requiring FPGA (field programmable gate array) programming expertise, it said in a release.
“The AMD Kria K24 SOM and KD240 development platform build on the breakthrough design experience introduced by the Kria SOM portfolio, offering solutions for robotics, control, vision AI, and DSP applications,” stated Hanneke Krekels, corporate vice president for core vertical markets at AMD.
“System architects must meet growing demands for performance and power efficiency while keeping expenses down,” she added. “The K24 SOM delivers high performance-per-watt in a small form factor and houses the core components of an embedded processing system on a single production-ready board for a fast time to market.”
The KD240 Drives Starter Kit is designed for developers to use out of the box. Source: Advanced Micro Devices
K24 SOM reduces size, power usage
Many factories have hundreds of motors powering robotics and other equipment on assembly lines. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated in 2022 that around 70% of the industrial sector’s total global electrical use is tied to electric motors and motor-driven systems. As such, even a 1% improvement in the efficiency of a drive system could benefit operational expenses and the environment, said AMD.
“Electric drives are used in industrial automation, plus public transit, energy generation, surgical and medical equipment like MRI beds, agricultural drones, and electric vehicle charging stations,” said Chetan Khona, senior director of industrial, vision, healthcare, and sciences at AMD.
“To maximize ROI [return on investment], we need faster and more sophisticated switching from the electric drive system,” he told Robotics 24/7. “Motor control had been out, but now it’s part of the connected Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 for cybersecurity and functional safety. Ours is the most secure SOM on the market.”
“A second piece is the number of axes of control,” Khona explained. “One drive can provide up ot eight axes of control, and we can apply AI for predictive maintenance.”
Advanced InFO (Integrated Fan-Out) packaging makes the K24 half the size of a credit card while using half the power of the larger, connector-compatible Kria K26 SOM, claimed AMD. It had conducted an internal analysis in August comparing their dimensions and power consumption using the xmutil platform utility tool running on a FOC (field-oriented control) sensor-based bitstream on the K24 SOM and a smart camera bitstream on the K26 SOM.
The K24 SOM provides high determinism and low latency for powering electric drives and motor controllers used in compute-intensive digital signal processing (DSP) applications at the edge.
“It uses fewer clock cycles and provides faster results at 200 MHz rather than 12 GHz,” Khona said. “It’s also adaptible, since users can determine clock sycles, and each DSP can be independent for multi-axis control. Each loop is independent, unlike with time multiplexing.”
The K24 SOM can be adapted to induction motors, permanent magnet motors, reluctance motors, and servo motors, said Khona. AMD’s main focus with the K24 SOM has been on brushless DC motors, he noted.
The K24 SOM includes standardized connectors. Source: Advanced Micro Devices
AMD simplifies, speeds DSP design cycles
The K24 SOM features a custom-built Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC device, and the supporting KD240 starter kit is a sub-$400 FPGA-based motor control kit. AMD asserted that the KD240 provides easy access for entry-level developers in comparison with other processor-based control kits.
The K24 SOM comes qualified for use in industrial environments with support for more design flows than any generation before it, the company said. That includes familiar design tools such as Matlab Simulink and languages like Python with its extensive ecosystem support for the PYNQ framework.
It also supports Ubuntu and Docker. In addition, software developers can use the AMD Vitis motor-control libraries while maintaining support for traditional development flows.
With the launch of Kria K26 SOM, AMD introduced what it said was the first app store with more than 25 containerized edge applications. By introducing the KD240 Starter Kit, AMD claimed that it is now the first vendor to offer prebuilt motor control apps, allowing users to create power-efficient industrial systems that are reliable and available and have advanced security features.
The KD240 is supported by an optional Motor Accessory Pack (MACCP) with a precision encoder. Developers will be able to purchase additional motor kits separately for an enhanced ramp-up experience, the company noted.
“The AMD Kria SOM portfolio has helped make robust hardware for robotics and industrial edge applications available to the masses, and we’re excited to see the portfolio extended with the new K24 SOM and KD240 Starter Kit,” said Greg Needel, CEO of REV Robotics. “With Kria SOMs, we’re able to simplify development of even advanced control loop algorithms, adapt to changing software and hardware requirements, and build really cool things for both commercial and STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] educational customers.”
AMD said the KD240 supports Matlab Simulink, Ubuntu, and ROS 2. Source: Advanced Micro Devices
Scalable SOMs offer accessibility
Kria SOMs allow developers to skip the substantial design efforts around the selected silicon device and instead focus on providing differentiated, value-added features, said AMD.
Connector compatibility enables easy migration between the K24 and K26 SOM without changing boards, said AMD. This allows system architects to balance power, performance, size, and cost for energy-efficient systems, it said.
“The K24 complements the K26,” said Khona. “While there’s less logic, Ubuntu support, and memory in the K24 than in the K26, there’s no depreciation, and they share compatibility for higher and lower-end connectors.”
AMD offers the K24 SOMs in both commercial and industrial versions, and they are built for 10-year industrial lifecycles. In addition to support for expanded temperature ranges, the industrial-grade SOM includes ECC (error correction code)-protected LPDDR4 (low-power, double data rate) memory for high-reliability systems.
“The Kria starter kits are modular building blocks of onboard computing for robotics and machine vision,” Khona said. “Developers can use the kits to rapidly protoype, and they’re the key to embedded computing. We’re very interested in being the de facto standard in robotics.”
“With the REV Robotics’ DC brushless motor, like a Lego 2-in-1 kit, there’s a connector to a simple robot arm and a foam ball shooter,” said Khona. “They’re inherently unstable systems with lots of calculations on the back end. Dropping a ball into the chute shouldn’t affect its trajectory.”
“We’re also looking to integrate a vision camera for shooting balls,” he said. “We hope it will inspire and show that engineering can be fun.”
Both commercial and industrial versions of the K24 SOM and the KD240 Drives Starter Kit are now available to order directly from AMD, as well as through worldwide channel distributors. The K24 commercial version is shipping today, and the company said it expects to ship the industrial version in the fourth quarter.
About the Author
Eugene Demaitre is editorial director of Robotics 24/7. Prior to joining Peerless Media, he was a senior editor at Robotics Business Review and The Robot Report. Demaitre has also worked for BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, and TechTarget. He has participated in numerous robotics-related webinars, podcasts, and events worldwide.