NVIDIA Jetson Orin Nano – A new Beast! 

The Jetson Orin Nano is the major fall GTC 2022 announcement for the Jetson developer community. There’s a new beast in town!

Jetson Orin 8GB (left), 4GB (right)

The next generation of the Jetson lineup has been revealed. We already know about the Jetson AGX Orin in 64GB and 32GB flavors, and the Jetson Orin NX modules in 16 and 8GB versions. Todays announcement rounds out the family, the Jetson Orin Nanos in 4GB and 8GB versions.

There’s a full technical blog on NVIDIAs website. Let’s go over some of the highlights. Here’s the architecture diagram:

Here’s the tech specs:

  Jetson Orin Nano 4GB Jetson Orin Nano 8GB
AI Performance 20 Sparse TOPs | 10 Dense TOPs 40 Sparse TOPs | 20 Dense TOPs
GPU 512-core NVIDIA Ampere Architecture GPU with 16 Tensor Cores 1024-core NVIDIA Ampere Architecture GPU with 32 Tensor Cores
GPU Max Frequency 625 MHz
CPU 6-core Arm Cortex-A78AE v8.2 64-bit CPU 1.5 MB L2 + 4 MB L3
CPU Max Frequency 1.5 GHz
Memory 4GB 64-bit LPDDR5 34 GB/s 8GB 128-bit LPDDR5 68 GB/s
Storage
(Supports external NVMe)
Video Encode   1080p30 supported by 1-2 CPU cores
Video Decode 1x 4K60 (H.265) | 2x 4K30 (H.265) | 5x 1080p60 (H.265) | 11x 1080p30 (H.265)
Camera Up to 4 cameras (8 through virtual channels*) 8 lanes MIPI CSI-2 D-PHY 2.1 (up to 20 Gbps)
PCIe 1 x4 + 3 x1 (PCIe Gen3, Root Port, & Endpoint)
USB 3x USB 3.2 Gen2 (10 Gbps) 3x USB 2.0
Networking 1x GbE
Display 1x 4K30 multimode DisplayPort 1.2 (+MST)/e DisplayPort 1.4/HDMI 1.4*
Other I/O 3x UART, 2x SPI, 2x I2S, 4x I2C, 1x CAN, DMIC and DSPK, PWM, GPIOs
Power 5W – 10W 7W – 15W
Mechanical 69.6 mm x 45 mm 260-pin SO-DIMM connector
Price $199  $299

Table 1. Jetson Orin Nano series specification – Priced in 1K units

Through the Looking Glass

Looking at the specs, the first thing that jumps out is storage. Earlier Jetsons have either an attached SD card or eMMC memory. The Jetson Orin Nano has neither. Instead the module supports external NVMe. The obvious benefit is that the amount of external storage is configurable and is fast. Most earlier Jetson modules have eMMC which always seems to be too small as applications become more and more advanced (and storage hungry).

The 8GB Orin Nano is about $100 less than a 8GB Orin NX. The 8GB Orin Nano has about 40 Sparse 8 Int TOPS, whereas the Orin NX has 70. The Orin NX appears to get most of this gain from a higher power handling capabilities, 15W vs 25W. Also, the Orin NX has hardware video encoders, the Orin Nano uses two CPU cores instead.

Speaking of the CPU cores, the Orin Nano divides them into two blocks. The first block is 4 CPU cores, the second block is 2 CPU cores. That seems reasonable if there’s some specific use cases like video encoding that require “reserving” a CPU block to complete the task.

Emulators

Another interesting announcement is the immediate availability of emulators for all members of the Jetson Orin family. That means that using a Jetson AGX Orin Development Kit, you can emulate any of the other Orins, such as the NX or Nano. Get a little head start on your apps, as the Orin Nano modules are due out in January.

Emulate the Orin modules on the Developer Kit

Conclusion

This is a very interesting turn of events. I was very much expecting a toned down version of the Xavier as the new Nano. Instead NVIDIA did something much smarter. The Nano? We’ll just make it a slightly toned down version of the latest and greatest. This promises to be great fun!

10 Comments

  1. So Jetson Orin Nano (SOM) sounds great, but since it is a SOM, it needs a carrier board. The Orin AGX carrier board is 10X the price of the Orin Nano. Is there going to be a less expensive carrier board released in the future that would target hobbyists and not companies?

    • Since it was just announced today, I don’t know what the carrier board manufacturers are doing or pricing. I also don’t know how NVIDIA is thinking about making a reference design carrier board. Physically it should be somewhat similar to the current Jetson Xavier NX carrier boards that 3rd parties make. It’s going to be about the feature set of the board on a case by case basis. There’s also a thermal solution to consider, along with a power supply and so on. I’ve heard that the parts are finally available and the last generation Jetson Nano is going back into production, so the entry level market will continue to be served. Thanks for reading!

  2. Will a reasonably priced carrier board for these new Orin Nano boards be available? Otherwise purchasing the Orin AGX dev kit is 10X the price of one Orin nano board.
    What about the hobbyist segment?

    • That’s why they announced the Orin Nano, so that the developer network can start their carrier board designs. This is somewhat simplified in that the same carrier board will be able to work with both the Orin Nano and the Orin NX modules. This in turn means more volume, therefore lower cost. The design is simplified somewhat in that it *must* have a PCIe NVMe compatible slot. I would guess there will be a simplified carrier board, and then others with more features. Thanks for reading!

  3. Yes, this looks like a pretty nice module. Note the reduced display capability capability though – no 4K@60 HDMI/DP on the Orin Nanos.

    However, it does look like NVIDIA actually killed the Nano Next. The updated roadmap slides on their website has no mention of the Nano Next. I wouldn’t be surprised if NVIDIA is about to say bye-bye to the hobbyists/SBC crowd.

  4. So I guess there’s a lot of waiting from the SBC/Hobbyist community till January for clarity on any carrier boards that will be suitable for them. I for one haven’t seen any being advertised yet.

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