Hands on with the Coral Dev Board

Getting started with Google’s new Edge TPU hardware

Alasdair Allan
20 min readMar 26, 2019


I also go “Hands on with the Coral USB Accelerator” in a companion article.

At last year’s Google Next conference in San Francisco Google announced two new upcoming hardware products both built around Google’s Edge TPU, their purpose-built ASIC designed to run machine learning inferencing at the edge.

Both a development board and a USB Accelerator, with a form-factor along similar lines to the Intel’s Neural Compute Stick, were announced allowing users to run inferences of pre-trained TensorFlow Lite models locally on their own hardware.

The Coral Dev Board with camera module.

The hardware is now available and has now launched into public Beta under the name Coral and, ahead of the launch, I managed to get my hands onto some early access hardware. While I go hands on with the USB Accelerator elsewhere, here I going to look at the Coral Dev Board.

Opening the box

The Coral Dev Board comes in a small rather unprepossessing box, which is not a bad thing. Not everything has to come in pretty Apple-like boxes, and these days it can be a bit of a red flag when it comes to manufacturing.

The Coral Dev Board box.

Inside the box is the Coral Dev Board itself. It comes fully assembled, so you won’t have to try and attach the SoM that houses the NXP i.MX 8M processor, and the Google Edge TPU, or the heat sink and cooling fan assembly.

The Coral Dev Board.

Unfortunately, not everything you need to get started with the Dev Board comes in the box. Before you get going, you’re going to need some supplies.

Gathering the supplies

As the Coral Dev Board arrives without a system image, with only the U-Boot boot loader present, you’re going to need is a computer running Linux to flash a system image on to the board. You’ll also need a few cables.



Alasdair Allan

Scientist, Author, Hacker, Maker, and Journalist.