You might know Qualcomm as the company that makes the Snapdragon processors to run your mobile devices, but it also has its own products in the board enthusiast market. It already has two products in the market – the DragonBoard 810 and DragonBoard 800 – and it's adding a smaller, third board to the lineup called the DragonBoard 410c.
As its name suggests, the 410c is based on the Snapdragon 410 processor. According to Qualcomm, the board itself is about the size of a credit card, which allows it to be placed in small, discrete locations. It's powered by a quad-core ARM Cortex A53 with speeds up to 1.2 GHz per core.
For memory, it has LPDDR2/3 533 MHz single-channel 32-bit (4.2 GBps) non-POP. The board will use flash storage in the form of eMMC 4.51 SD 3.0 (UHS-I). In terms of graphics, the board houses an Adreno 306 (400 MHz). It also supports a 13 MP camera, and for connectivity, it includes integrated 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, FM and GPS for location. It also offers HDMI, mini-USB and two USB 2.0 ports. In terms of an operating system, the board allows either Android or Linux platforms.
Even with all of these features, Qualcomm left enough space for expansion. There is one 40-pin low speed connector as well as a 60-pin high speed connector. An analog connector allows an input for headsets, speakers or an FM antenna. It's compatible with Arduino through the mezzanine board.
Obviously, this board is ideal for the do-it-yourself, maker crowd who can use it for a variety of purposes such as creating smart devices throughout the home, powering robots, or just using it as a camera.
Qualcomm said the board will be available this summer and offered no details about the price, but we can take a guess. Considering that the DragonBoard 810 and DragonBoard 800 cost $499 and $475, respectively, we can expect the 410c to certainly be less expensive than its bigger siblings, but it still won't be cheap.
Qualcomm is betting that with a smaller (and hopefully cheaper) board, more people will buy it. Qualcomm already powers your phone, but the company also wants to be a driving force behind any enthusiast's latest DIY invention.
UPDATE, 3/18/2015, 7 am PST: With the Windows Hardware Engineering Community (WinHEC) event underway in Shezhen, China, Qualcomm announced that the 10c will support the upcoming Windows 10 operating system, and WinHEC attendees can see the first demos of the 410c at the event. In addition, the company also announced that the Snapdragon 210 reference design will be the first model to support Windows 10. This means that manufacturers using the processor can make their next lineup of mobile and tablet devices with the new operating system at launch.
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There's a demand for a wide range of performance from SOM kits, not just 700 MHz single-core processors with 1GB of RAM and a low-end GPU.
That's nice. No one is asking you to switch. People who are happy with a RP2 will keep using them. Those who need something with more power will use the Dragonboards or the XU3. Why do so many people assume that they alone represent the entire market for technology products?
How do you compare the Dragonboards to the Minnow Board v2? And, how do you justify such a high price difference between the RPI2 and the new Dragonboard 410c ?
- Snapdragon has an octacore processor versus the E3825's dual core processor.
- Adreno 420 has far better performance than the Intel HD Bay Trail on most tests. So, assuming the Adreno 430 is superior to the 420, then Snapdragon beats out the Atom on graphics.
- Adreno 430 supports OpenGL ES up to 3.1 and OpenCL 1.2. The Intel HD in the E3825 only supports OpenGL ES 2.0 and OpenCL 1.1.
- Snapdragons have Hexagon multithreaded DSP, which offloads signal processing for 4G LTE, video/audio encoding/decoding, handling sensor input, etc. while reducing power consumption.
- Snapdragons come with a modem and RF transceiver that supports LTE, VoLTE, CDMA, WCDMA, Edge, etc.
- Snapdragons have bluetooth and NFC support.
- Snapdragons have 4k capture and playback support with AVC and HEVC formats AND can power 2 concurrent 4k displays.
- Snapdragons have dual image signal processors supporting up to 55MP.
- Snapdragon 810s have the iZat Gen8C GPS with WiFi augmented positioning.
- Snapdragon 810s have Quick Charge 2.0 and parallel charging.
- Snapdragon 810s use LPDDR4 (Low Power DDR4) at 1600MHz vs. the E3825's DDR3L (DDR3 Low Voltage) at 1066MHz. LDDR4 is about twice as fast and uses 22% less energy. And the Dragonboard 810 comes with 4GB versus the Minnow MAX's 2GB.
- The Minnow MAX supports eMMC4.5 while the Dragonboard 810 supports eMMC5.0. So the Dragonboard 810 can have twice the SD card performance.
- Snapdragon 810 uses a 20nm process versus the E3825's 32nm.
- Snapdragon has 802.11n/ac support while the Minnow MAX has no wireless connectivity.
Essentially, these two SoCs are for completely different applications. The E3825 SoC is a very low power computer CPU. It's a cheaper, older design used for lots of low power industrial embedded applications. The Dragonboards are using a top-of-the-line mobile SoC that is essentially a mobile platform for DIYers. It's much more space and energy efficient (probably around half of what the E3825 consumes, based on estimates I've seen), especially considering everything that it's packing.
The RPI2 is even less comparable to the Dragonboards in terms of performance. It uses quadcore ARM processors, but the 64-bit A57s and A53s that the Snapdragon 810 uses are far outside of the performance envelop of the low power A7. The A7 is the second-least powerful and second-most power efficient Cortex processor cores that ARM produces. The A57 is the top of the line. They're not remotely comparable even before you double the number of cores.
The VideoCore IV beats out older generation Adreno 300 GPUs, but I doubt it can keep pace with the Adreno 430. 1GB of DDR2 won't come close to 4GB of LPDDR3. And though a few of the other features like WiFi, Bluetooth, LTE and GPS support can be added, it's going to be bulkier than the SoC solution. The RPI2's advantage over the Dragonboards is its price, development community/platform and lower power consumption.
Wow. Thank you so much for a detailed answer. I am sure this would help out many people :)