Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS): OVT integrates NPU, ISP, and DDR3 for driver monitoring systems (DMS)


OmniVision claims the first dedicated DMS processor, with integrated AI NPU, ISP, and DDR3 memory, consuming less than 1 watt.

Ahead of for entry-level, standalone CES 2021, OmniVision Technologies, Inc. has announced an automotive application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) driver monitoring systems (DMS) . The company claims the OAX8000 is the only dedicated DMS processor with on-chip DDR3 SDRAM memory (1 GB) thanks to its stacked-die architecture. It is also the only dedicated DMS processor to integrate a neural processing unit (NPU) and image signal processor (ISP).

A couple of things are happening in DMS technology. There is increased demand for better imaging for automotive safety applications, driven by advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving, and DMS is becoming necessary in the development of autonomous driving systems (ADS).

Sensing technology is now integrating driver status monitoring with external environmental readings, and automotive artificial intelligence (AI) integration is becoming an enabler of automotive safety, extending beyond entertainment and user assistance functions, according to TrendForce analysts. They believe the primary application of driver monitoring functions will be focused on the development of more active, reliable, and accurate camera systems.

In addition, DMS will become necessary in the development of ADS since DMS serves multiple functions simultaneously, including real-time detection/notification, driver capability assessment, and takeover of driving controls when necessary, according to TrendForce.

OmniVision has been building its DMS portfolio for several years, particularly with automotive image sensors. The company introduced its first automotive wafer-level camera module for DMS in 2020. The OVM9284 1-MP CameraCubeChip module with low power consumption integrates the image sensor, signal processor, and wafer-level optics in a single package to reduce design complexity and speed up development time.

The company also has accelerated technology development with industry partners. One example is the development of a combined driver monitoring and videoconferencing camera solution, introduced in November 2020.

The new automotive processor combines OmniVision’s DMS technologies into one chip. The DMS processor provides processing speeds up to 1.1 trillion operations per second for eye gaze and eye tracking algorithms. Together with 1K MAC of convolutional neural network (CNN) acceleration and the integrated SDRAM, the chip offers the lowest power consumption available for DMS systems, according to OmniVision. The OAX8000 and OmniVision automotive image sensor consume only one watt in typical conditions, combined.

Another benefit of the integration is that the DMS processor reduces the board area for the engine control unit (ECU).

“Most DMS processors on the market today are not dedicated to this application, requiring added circuitry to perform other system functions that consumes more power, occupies more board space and doesn’t allow room for on-chip SDRAM,” said Brian Pluckebaum, automotive product marketing manager at OmniVision, in a statement. “By focusing the design of our OAX8000 ASIC on entry-level DMS, we were able to create the automotive industry’s most optimized solution.”

The ASIC embeds quad Arm Cortex A5 CPU cores with Neon technology for accelerated video encoding/decoding and on-chip video analytics algorithms. The chip also includes hardware for image processing, video encoding and RGB/IR processing. The OAX8000’s on-chip NPU is supported by TensorFlow, Caffe, MXNet and ONNX tool chains.

The DMS processor also provides high dynamic range (HDR) processing capability that allows the ASIC to accept input from RBG/IR image sensors and support high quality output for videos in different lighting conditions, day or night. The integrated video encoder accepts up to 5 megapixel captures from the automotive image sensors, and outputs up to 2K resolution video at 30 frames per second (fps).

In addition, the OAX8000 is said to offer a fast boot-up time that eliminates any delay between ignition and activation of the DMS camera. It also supports secure boot features for cybersecurity.

The DMS processor can be used in other applications. One example cited is processing occupant detection algorithms, such as distinguishing a baby from a grocery bag, and providing alerts when objects are left behind in the vehicle. The chip also can be used in automotive video security systems to perform functions such as FaceID, as well as preset driver-comfort settings that are activated when the DMS first scans the driver’s face.

Samples of the OAX8000 ASIC are available now in a BGA196 package. It is AEC-Q100 Grade 2 certified for automotive applications. OmniVision will showcase the new ASIC at CES.

Learn more about OmniVision Technologies

Originally published at on January 4, 2021.