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Design and Specifications

If you want to know how BeagleBone AI-64 is designed and the detailed specifications, then this chapter is for you. We are going to attept to provide you a short and crisp overview followed by discussing each hardware design element in detail.

Block Diagram and Overview

BeagleBone AI-64 Key Components below shows the high level block diagram of BeagleBone AI-64 board surrounding TDA4VM SoC.


Fig. 73 BeagleBone AI-64 Key Components


BeagleBone AI-64 uses TI J721E-family TDA4VM system-on-chip (SoC) which is part of the K3 Multicore SoC architecture platform and it is targeted for the reliability and low-latency needs of the automotive market provide for a great general purpose platform suitable for industrial automation, mobile robotics, building automation and numerous hobby projects.

The SoC designed as a low power, high performance and highly integrated device architecture, adding significant enhancement on processing power, graphics capability, video and imaging processing, virtualization and coherent memory support. In addition, these SoCs support state of the art security and functional safety features. For the remaining of this section device, SoC, and processor will be used interchangeably.

Some of the main distinguished characteristics of the device are:

  • 64-bit architecture with virtualization and coherent memory support, which leverages full processing capability of 64-bit Arm® Cortex®-A72

  • Fully programmable industrial communication subsystems to enable future-proof designs for customers that need to adopt the new Gigabit Time-sensitive Networks (TSN) standards, but still need full support on legacy protocols and continuous system optimization over the product deployment

  • Integration of vision hardware processing accelerators to facilitate extensive processing requirements in low power budget for automotive ADAS and machine vision applications

  • Integration of a general-purpose microcontroller unit (MCU) with a dual Arm® Cortex®-R5F MCU subsystem, available for general purpose use as two cores or in lockstep, intended to help customers achieve functional safety goals for their end products

  • Integration of a next-generation fixed and floating-point C71x Digital Signal Processor (DSP) that significantly boosts power over a broad range of general signal processing tasks for both general applications and automotive functions which also incorporates advanced techniques to improve control code efficiency and ease of programming such as branch prediction, protected pipeline, precise exception and virtual memory management

  • Tightly coupled Matrix Multiplication Accelerator (MMA) that extends the C71x DSP architecture’s scalar and vector facilities enabling deep learning and enhance vision, analytics and wide range of general applications. The achieved total TOPS (Tera Operations Per Second) performance significantly differentiates the device for single board computer in machine vision and deep learning applications

  • Key display features including flexibility to interface with different panel types (eDP, DSI, DPI) with multi-layer hardware composition

  • Integration of hardware features that help applications to achieve functional safety mechanisms

  • Robust security architecture with sandboxed DMSC controller managing all secure configurations with high performance client-server messaging scheme between secure DMSC and all cores

  • Simplified solution for power supply management, enabling lower cost system solution (on-die bias LDOs and power good comparators for minimal power sequencing requirements consistent with low cost supply design)

The device is composed of the following main subsystems, across different domains of the SoC, among others:

  • One dual-core 64-bit Arm Cortex-A72 microprocessor subsystem at up to 2.0 GHz and up to 24K DMIPS (Dhrystone Million Instructions per Second)

  • Up to three Microcontroller Units (MCU), based on dual-core Arm Cortex-R5F processor running at up to 1.0 GHz, up to 12K DMIPS

  • Up to two TMS320C66x DSP CorePac modules running at up to 1.35 GHz, up to 40 GFLOPS

  • One C71x floating point, vector DSP running at up to 1.0 GHz, up to 80 GFLOPS

  • One deep-learning MMA, up to 8 TOPS (8b) at 1.0 GHz

  • Up to two gigabit dual-core Programmable Real-Time Unit and Industrial Communication Subsystems (PRU_ICSSG)

  • Two Navigator Subsystems (NAVSS) for data movement and control

  • One multi-pipeline Display Subsystem (DSS) with one MIPI® Display Serial Interface Controller (DSI) and shared MIPI D-PHY Transmitter (DPHY_TX), one Embedded DisplayPort Transmitter (EDP) with shared Serializer/Deserializer (SERDES), and two MIPI Display Pixel Interface (DPI) ports

  • Two Camera Streaming Interface Receivers (CSI_RX_IF) with dedicated MIPI D-PHYs (DPHY_RX)

  • One Camera Streaming Interface Transmitter (CSI_TX_IF) with MIPI D-PHY Transmitter (DPHY_TX) shared with DSI

  • One Vision Processing Accelerator (VPAC) with image signal processor

  • One Depth and Motion Processing Accelerator (DMPAC)

  • One dual-core multi-standard HD Video Decoder (DECODER)

  • One dual-core multi-standard HD Video Encoder (ENCODER)

  • One Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)

  • One Device Management and Security Controller (DMSC)

The device provides a rich set of peripherals such as:

  • General connectivity peripherals, including:

    • Two 12-bit general purpose Analog-to-Digital Converters (ADC)

    • Ten Inter-Integrated Circuit (I2C) interfaces

    • Three Improved Inter-Integrated Circuit (I3C) controllers

    • Eleven master/slave Multichannel Serial Peripheral Interfaces (MCSPI)

    • Twelve configurable Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter (UART) interfaces

    • Ten General-Purpose Input/Output (GPIO) modules

  • High-speed interfaces, including:

    • Two Gigabit Ethernet Switch (CPSW) modules

    • Two Dual-Role-Device (DRD) Universal Serial Bus Subsystems (USBSS) with integrated PHY

    • Four Peripheral Component Interconnect express (PCIe) Gen3 subsystems

  • Flash memory interfaces, including:

    • One Octal SPI (OSPI) interface and one Quad SPI (QSPI) or one QSPI and one HyperBus^TM^

    • One General Purpose Memory Controller (GPMC) with Error Location Module (ELM) and 8- or 16-bit-wide data bus width (supports parallel NOR or NAND FLASH devices)

    • Three Multimedia Card/Secure Digital (MMCSD) controllers

    • One Universal Flash Storage (UFS) interface

  • Industrial and control interfaces, including:

    • Sixteen Controller Area Network (MCAN) interfaces with flexible data rate support

    • Three Enhanced Capture (ECAP) modules

    • Six Enhanced Pulse-Width Modulation (EPWM) subsystems

    • Three Enhanced Quadrature Encoder Pulse (EQEP) modules

  • Audio peripherals, including:

    • One Audio Tracking Logic (ATL)

    • Twelve Multichannel Audio Serial Port (MCASP) modules supporting up to 16 channels with independent TX/RX clock/sync domain

  • One Video Processing Front End (VPFE) interface module

The device also integrates:

  • Power distribution, reset controls and clock management components

  • Power-management techniques for device power consumption minimization:

    • Adaptive Voltage Scaling (AVS)

    • Dynamic Frequency Scaling (DFS)

    • Gated clocks

    • Multiple voltage domains

    • Independently controlled power domains for major modules

    • Voltage and Temperature Management (VTM) module

    • Power-on Reset Generators (PRG)

    • Power Sleep Controllers (PSC)

  • Optimized interconnect (CBASS) architecture to enable latency-critical real time network and IO applications

  • Control modules (CTRL_MMRs) mainly associated with device top-level configurations such as:

    • IO Pad and pin multiplexing configuration

    • PLL control and associated High-Speed Dividers (HSDIV)

    • Clock selection

    • Analog function controls

  • Multicore Shared Memory Controller (MSMC)

  • DDR Subsystem (DDRSS) with Error Correcting Code (ECC), supporting LPDDR4

  • 1KB RAM with ECC support for C71x boot vectors

  • 2KB RAM with ECC support for A72 and R5F boot vectors

  • 512KB On-Chip SRAM protected by ECC

  • One Global Time Counter (GTC) module

  • Thirty 32-bit counter timers with compare and capture modes

  • Debug and trace capabilities

The device includes different modules for functional safety requirements support:

  • MCU island with dual lock step Arm Cortex-R5F

  • Safety enabled interconnect with implemented features to help with Freedom From Interference (FFI)

  • Twelve Real Time Interrupt (RTI) modules with Windowed Watchdog Timer (WWDT) functionality to monitor processor cores

  • Sixteen Dual-Clock Comparators (DCC) to monitor clocking sources during run-time

  • Three Error Signaling Modules (ESM) to enable error monitoring

  • Temperature monitoring sensors

  • ECC on all critical memories

  • Dedicated hardware Memory Cyclic Redundancy Check (MCRC) blocks

The device supports the following main security functionalities among others:

  • Secure Boot Management

  • Public Key Accelerator (PKA) for large vector math operation

  • Cryptographic acceleration (AES, 3DES, MD5, SHA1, SHA2-224, 256, 512 operation)

  • Trusted Execution Environment (TEE)

  • Secure storage support

  • On-the-fly encryption and authentication support for OSPI interface

The device is partitioned into three functional domains as shown in Device Top-level Block Diagram, each containing specific processing cores and peripherals:

  • Wake-up (WKUP) domain

  • Microcontroller (MCU) domain with one of the dual Cortex-R5 cluster

  • MAIN domain


Fig. 74 Device Top-level Block Diagram


Described in the following sections are the three memory devices found on the board.


A single (1024M x 16bits x 2channels) LPDDR4 4Gb memory device is used. The memory used is:

  • Kingston Q3222PM1WDGTK-U


A single 4Kb EEPROM (24FC04HT-I/OT) is provided on I2C0 that holds the board information. This information includes board name, serial number, and revision information.

16GB Embedded MMC

A single 16GB embedded MMC (eMMC) device is on the board. The device connects to the MMC1 port of the processor, allowing for 8bit wide access. Default boot mode for the board will be MMC1 with an option to change it to MMC0, the SD card slot, for booting from the SD card as a result of removing and reapplying the power to the board. Simply pressing the reset button will not change the boot mode. MMC0 cannot be used in 8Bit mode because the lower data pins are located on the pins used by the Ethernet port. This does not interfere with SD card operation but it does make it unsuitable for use as an eMMC port if the 8 bit feature is needed.

MicroSD Connector

The board is equipped with a single microSD connector to act as the secondary boot source for the board and, if selected as such, can be the primary boot source. The connector will support larger capacity microSD cards. The microSD card is not provided with the board. Booting from MMC0 will be used to flash the eMMC in the production environment or can be used by the user to update the SW as needed.

Boot Modes

As mentioned earlier, there are two boot modes:

  • eMMC Boot: This is the default boot mode and will allow for the fastest boot time and will enable the board to boot out of the box using the pre-flashed OS image without having to purchase an microSD card or an microSD card writer.

  • SD Boot: This mode will boot from the microSD slot. This mode can be used to override what is on the eMMC device and can be used to program the eMMC when used in the manufacturing process or for field updates.


This section needs more work and references to greater detail. Other boot modes are possible. Software to support USB and serial boot modes is not provided by contact TI for support of this feature.

A switch is provided to allow switching between the modes.

  • Holding the boot switch down during a removal and reapplication of power without a microSD card inserted will force the boot source to be the USB port and if nothing is detected on the USB client port, it will go to the serial port for download.

  • Without holding the switch, the board will boot try to boot from the eMMC. If it is empty, then it will try booting from the microSD slot, followed by the serial port, and then the USB port.

  • If you hold the boot switch down during the removal and reapplication of power to the board, and you have a microSD card inserted with a bootable image, the board will boot from the microSD card.


Pressing the RESET button on the board will NOT result in a change of the boot mode. You MUST remove power and reapply power to change the boot mode. The boot pins are sampled during power on reset from the PMIC to the processor.The reset button on the board is a warm reset only and will not force a boot mode change.

Power Management

The TPS65941213 and TPS65941111 power management device is used along with a separate LDO to provide power to the system.

PC USB Interface

The board has a USB type-C connector that connects to USB0 port of the processor.

Serial Debug Ports

Two serial debug ports are provided on board via 3pin micro headers,

  1. WKUP_UART0: Wake-up domain serial port

  2. UART0: Main domain serial port

In order to use the interfaces a 3pin micro to 6pin dupont adaptor header is required with a 6 pin USB to TTL adapter. The header is compatible with the one provided by FTDI and can be purchased for about $$12 to $$20 from various sources. Signals supported are TX and RX. None of the handshake signals are supported.

USB Host Ports

On the board is a stacked dual USB 3.0 Type A female connector with full LS/FS/HS/SS host support. The ports can provide power on/off control and up to 1.5A of current at 5V. Under USB power, the board will not be able to supply the full 1.5A.

Power Sources

The board can be powered from three different sources:

  • 5V > 3A power supply plugged into the barrel jack

  • 5V > 3A capable device plugged into the USB Type-C connector

  • The cape header pins

The power supply is not provided with the board but can be easily obtained from numerous sources. A 5V > 3A supply is mandatory to have with the board, but if there is a cape plugged into the board or you have a power hungry device or hub plugged into the host port, then more current may needed from the DC supply.

Reset Button

When pressed and released, causes a reset of the board.

Power Button

This button takes advantage of the input to the PMIC for power down features.


There are a total of six green LEDs on the board.

  • One green power LED indicates that power is applied and the power management IC is up.

  • Five blue LEDs that can be controlled via the SW by setting GPIO pins.