Lidar system-on-a-chip
October 27, 2021

Introducing the L2X chip: 2X the processing power, 2X the data output to power Ouster’s most reliable and rugged sensors

The L2X digital lidar chip is the most powerful, highest performing chip we have ever designed, and it now powers all of Ouster’s latest Rev 06 OS series scanning sensors. 

Capable of counting up to 1 trillion photons per second, and outputting up to 5.2 million points per second , the L2X system-on-chip (“SoC”) continues our journey along the Moore’s Law curve by doubling the maximum data rate of our sensors. The L2X handles all the logic and signal processing on the sensor, and can now process both the strongest and second strongest returns of light for each pixel. 

With the new L2X chip, industry-leading reliability, IP68/69K ruggedness, and full dual returns for even richer point cloud data, Ouster lidar delivers high-performance 3D perception and operations for all-weather, all-terrain conditions.

Digital lidar refresher

But first, a quick refresher of Ouster’s core digital lidar technology and the critical role the L2X chip plays in sensor performance. 

Our digital lidar architecture consists of a patented micro-optical system and a simple two-chip architecture that replaces the hundreds to thousands of discrete components commonly found in traditional analog lidar:

  • VCSEL laser array that integrates all lasers onto a single semiconductor chip. 
  • Custom CMOS receiver SoC with extremely sensitive SPAD photon detectors and proprietary digital signal processing that handles all of the command and control logic of the sensor. The L2X chip is the latest generation of our SoC. 
  • Micro-optics system, the fundamental technology behind our digital lidar that boosts performance of our sensor by efficiently directing light to enable higher performance with the same number of photons.
Core architecture of Ouster digital lidar sensors
All of Ouster’s OS series scanning sensors utilize the same core architecture. Learn more here.

This simplified, integrated architecture is what enables us to deliver high-performance, reliability, and affordability today and our CMOS approach enables us to improve performance for years to come. Learn more about Ouster’s digital lidar technology. 

L2X chip doubles the processing power and doubles the data output to improve perception performance 

The L2X chip is the latest generation of our custom CMOS SoC, featuring a completely redesigned ASIC that enables full dual return processing capabilities and packed with extremely sensitive SPAD detectors capable of counting up to one trillion photons per second
The L2X chip can process both the strongest and the second strongest returns of light from each pixel, doubling the total maximum number of points detected to 5.2 million points per second. This richer point cloud combined with our wide optical aperture further increases the accuracy of object detection, especially through environmental obscurants, such as dust, smoke, or even a chain link fence, and ensures machines operate safely and efficiently even in the toughest conditions.

A Moore’s Law success story, the first for lidar  

By consolidating all the complexity of analog lidar onto a single silicon CMOS SoC, we dramatically improve performance while reducing costs over time. Ubiquitous technologies, such as computer processors and digital cameras, have all followed this same exponential improvement curve, known as Moore’s Law. Our lidar technology’s progression along Moore’s Law curve delivers improvements to performance and cost that will help to make lidar ubiquitous.

Each generation of Ouster’s SoC delivers performance improvements in range, maximum points per second, and costs. 

Since launching the OS1-64 in 2018, we have already doubled the resolution of our sensors in just two years, from 64 to 128 channels with our L2 chip to develop the highest resolution digital lidar on the market. The L2X chip doubles our performance yet again, continuing along our CMOS SoC roadmap and demonstrating the exponential improvement potential of digital lidar. 

Introducing Rev 06: the latest Ouster sensors powered by the L2X chip

Our newest hardware release, Rev 06, is powered by the L2X chip and equipped with the latest Firmware v2.2. Rev 06 introduces full dual return capabilities, doubles the signal processing power of our sensors, and is the most rugged and reliable sensor that we have ever built. 

In real-world operating conditions – whether a robotaxi driving on a foggy morning or an excavator operating in a dusty construction zone – sensors must not only be mechanically reliable and robust, but also reliably output high-quality data. With the new L2X chip, IP68/69K ruggedness, and richer dual returns point cloud data, Ouster lidar delivers high-performance 3D perception in all weather and terrain conditions. 

This latest hardware update, Rev 06, is available for order now across our entire suite of OS series scanning sensors. To learn more, join our upcoming launch webinar or contact our sales team

Built for all-weather performance: superior 3D perception through fog, rain, snow, dust, or even out at sea 

Rev 06, powered by the L2X chip, improves our sensors’ ability to detect objects through obscurants such as rain, fog, dust, snow, and even thin delicate objects like a wired fence. By processing both the strongest and second strongest returns of incoming light, our sensors can more accurately detect objects that are partially obstructed behind external elements like foliage or smoke, behind thin delicate objects, and amidst obscurants like rain or fog. 

Person detected on lidar versus on camera
Pedestrian walking through fog, captured on Ouster OS1 Rev 06 sensor versus GoPro camera 

Cameras simply cannot do this because they rely on receiving ambient light for each pixel, making them unable to detect even partially obstructed objects. In contrast, Ouster sensors utilize a large optical aperture and advanced digital processing via our L2X chip that enables our sensors to penetrate obscurants like rain, fog, and snow that would adversely affect the performance of cameras.

Vehicle detected on lidar versus camera
Vehicle driving through a dusty dirt road, captured on an Ouster OS1 Rev 06 sensor versus GoPro camera. Check out the full dirt drive in this video.

The most rugged and reliable lidar sensors we have ever designed

From operating autonomous mines in dusty open-pit mines in China, to vehicle-based mapping in the Canadian snow, to detecting pedestrians at outdoor intersections, Ouster sensors must reliably work all the time through the most rugged, thermally extreme environments and all terrain conditions. 

Reducing sensor failure and downtime saves money and more critically, reduces safety risk from failed operations. This is why our sensors are designed to the highest standards of reliability and robustness, including IP68/69K and automotive-grade shock and vibe specifications. We continuously optimize our sensors through rigorous testing and failure analysis processes. 

  • Rated IP 68/69k, power-wash approved, and functional when immersed up to 1m in water 
  • Automotive-grade shock and vibration 
  • Tested for up to 30,000 hours of continuous operations with an average product lifespan of over 100,000 hours* *Calculated using IEC-61508/IEC-62380 MTTF methodologies 
Ouster sensor powering through a car wash

Additionally, our simplified digital lidar architecture dramatically reduces the points of failure from thousands, as seen in analog lidar, to just two chips and one moving part. This inherent digital lidar advantage, combined with our focus on reliability, results in the most rugged and reliable lidar sensors we have ever built. 

A path of continuous improvement 

The L2X chip is yet another major milestone along Ouster’s product roadmap. We have completely redesigned the chip to dramatically boost processing power and double the maximum data output to provide even richer, dual returns point cloud data. 

Combined with our industry-leading reliability and IP68/69K ruggedness, the latest Rev 06 sensors are the optimal choice for any outdoor application across automotive, industrial, smart infrastructure, and robotics. 

Join our webinar on November 4th for an exclusive deep-dive into our latest sensors and just how much they’re capable of.

To learn more, please reach out to our team.