Archive for November 27, 2019

NVidia Jetson Nano: Part 2

November 27, 2019 Leave a comment

Last week I posted a review of the NVidia Jetson Nano IoT board, where I gave the board a score of 6 out of 10. This score was based on the fact that the CPU in particular was a joke compared to other, far better and more affordable boards on the market.


Ubuntu running on the NVidia Jetson Nano

Since my primary segment for IoT boards involves web technology, WebAssembly and Asm.js (HTML5) in particular, the cpu did not deliver the performance I expected from an NVidia board. But as stated in my article, this board was never designed to be a multi-purpose maker board. This is a board for training and implementing A.I models (machine learning), which is why it ships with an astonishing 128 CUDA cores in it’s GPU.

However, two days after I posted said review, NVidia issued several updates. The graphics drivers were updated, followed by a custom Chrome browser build. Naturally I was eager to see if this would affect my initial experience, and to say it did would be an understatement.

Driver update

After this update the Jetson was able to render the HTML5 based desktop system I use for testing, and it passed more or less all my test-cases with flying colors. In fact, I was able to run two tests simultaneously. It renders Quake 3 (uses WebGl) in full-screen at 45 fps, with Tyrian (uses the gpu’s 2d functions) running at a whopping 35 fps (!).

Obviously that payload is significant, and all 4 CPU cores were taxed at 70% when running two such demanding programs inside the same viewport. Personally I’m not much of a gamer, but I find that testing a SoC by its ability to process HTML5 and JS, especially code that taps into the underlying GPU for both 3d and 2d – gives a good picture of the SoC’s capabilities.

I still think the CPU was a poor choice by NVidia. The production costs of adding an A72 CPU is practically non-existent. The A72 would add 50 cents (USD 0.5) to the boards retail value, but in return it would give us a much higher clock speed and beefier CPU cache. The A72 is in practical terms twice as fast as the A57.

A better score

But, fair is fair, and I am changing the review score to 7 out of 10, which is the best score I have ever given to any IoT device.

The only board that has a chance of topping that, is the ODroid N2, when (if ever) Hardkernel bothers to implement X drivers for the Mali GPU.