AMD Announces Kria K24 SoM for Motor Control and DSP

By Ken Briodagh

Senior Technology Editor

Embedded Computing Design

September 19, 2023


AMD Announces Kria K24 SoM for Motor Control and DSP

The electric motor (or it’s little sibling, the actuator) is one of the most ubiquitous machines in today’s world, used in everything from automatic doors in retail locations to Tesla and robotic manufacturing arms.

And that trend is growing as fast as automation is entering every industry and vertical.

Along with those motors come a slew of connected technologies designed to monitor their operation, record and report data, and an endless list of other tasks. And the most important is the embedded system that powers and controls them.

“Modern motors are becoming more sophisticated and because electric drive systems are so pervasive, more are moving to variable speed systems to improve efficiency and performance while reducing power consumption,” said Chetan Khona, Director, Industrial, Vision, Healthcare & Sciences at AMD. “To get the most out them you need faster and more sophisticated switching.”

As the newest members of that more sophisticated class, today AMD has announced its new Kria K24 System-on-Module (SoM) and KD240 Drives Starter Kit. These latest additions to the Kria line of embedded SoM are designed to offer efficient computing power in a small form factor suited to industrial and commercial edge applications specifically.

AMD says the K24 is perfect for powering electric drives and motor controllers used in compute-intensive digital signal processing (DSP) applications at the edge, especially when working toward improving energy efficiency. In short, the company says it puts the brain into factory and warehouse automation, with high determinism and low latency. It’s ideally suited to robotics, power generation, electric public transportation, medical equipment, and EV charging stations.

“A single factory can have hundreds of motors that drive robotics and processors,” said Khona. “The single largest impact to energy efficiency is achieved by taking each motor application and making it more sophisticated from a motor control point of view.”

The partner product, the KD240 Drives Starter Kit, is loaded with everything an engineer needs to get to production on the K24. Designed to be ready to roll out of the box, it gets designers running fast to speed their motor control and DSP applications to market, without requiring FPGA programming expertise.

According to an IEA report from December of 2022, 70 percent of industrial power use is tied to electric motor use and systems. The percentages in the consumer-facing space aren’t as impressive, but it’s non-negligible. These big numbers mean that any improvements in efficiency and reliability can have huge positive outcomes.

Obviously, robotics and automation controls are a big application case for the K24. AMD is deeply involved in robotics research and development, from STEM classrooms to factory floors. In fact, the Kria K24 will be the control unit for AMD’s next entry into the BattleBots competition.

“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 educational customers,” said Greg Needel, CEO, Rev Robotics.

It’s not all industrial manufacturing and robotics, however. One key implementation AMD expects is for public transportation. “We love public transportation because there could be 30 different applications for the K24 in a single train car,” said Khona. And they’re looking ahead at systems that will require sophisticated ML and eventually, AI controls, too. “We do support AI inference and… you can do AI right on the SoM in addition to generating data.”

The Tech

AMD built the K24 to be pre-qualified for use in industrial environments, according to the release. It comes with support for many of the common design tools, including Matlab Simulink, Python programming language with its extensive ecosystem support for the PYNQ framework, Ubuntu, Docker platform, and of course the AMD Vitis motor control libraries.

The K24 is built for 10-year industrial lifecycles, using expanded temperature ranges and ECC-protected LPDDR4 memory for high-reliability systems.

Of course, physical robustness must be accompanied by good hardware and software security, and AMD has this covered, too. The designers start with a Zync UltraScale+ MPSoC hardware root of trust, and use TPM to support measured boot and check for unauthorized activity on the hardware itself, before even getting to software cybersecurity. “The majority of the memory is ECC protected,” said Khona. “[This is] the most cybersecure SoM on the market.”

The K24 SoM (commercial and industrial versions) and KD240 Drives Starter Kit are available to order now via direct order and worldwide channel distributors. AMD says the K24 commercial version is shipping today, and the industrial version is expected to ship in Q4.

Ken Briodagh is a writer and editor with two decades of experience under his belt. He is in love with technology and if he had his druthers, he would beta test everything from shoe phones to flying cars. In previous lives, he’s been a short order cook, telemarketer, medical supply technician, mover of the bodies at a funeral home, pirate, poet, partial alliterist, parent, partner and pretender to various thrones. Most of his exploits are either exaggerated or blatantly false.

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