Qualcomm DevBoard Goes Raspberry-Pi Route

16 March 2015

The DragonBoard 410c is a credit card sized low-cost, development board based on the 64-bit capable quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor. Qualcomm says the board is intended to bring the Snapdragon 410 processor to a broader group of developers, makers and OEMs.

The Snapdragon 410 processor includes the quad-core Cortex-A53 operating at up to 1.2GHz clock frequency as well as the Adreno 306 GPU operating at 400MHz and capable of 1080p video playback and capture with H.264. It also provides support for a 13 megapixel image sensor with multiple post-processing techniques done in hardware.

The board's inclusion of 64-bit processor cores and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless capabilities means that it provides a higher specification than previously released "maker" boards. It also includes GPS location-tracking capability. Other such boards, such as the Raspberry Pi, the MIPS Creator board and the BeagleBone Black, only offer wired connectivity on the motherboard and 32-bit processing.

DragonBoard 410c: quad-core 64-bit processor with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Source: Qualcomm Technologies Inc.

Qualcomm is best known as a supplier wireless modems and IP and highly integrated SoC processors for smartphones and tablet computers. However, it has over the years helped third parties supply development boards to try and find embedded applications for its processors. The introduction of a "maker board" suitable for rapid software development, prototyping and education has increasing its effort in this area to try and capitalize on the wave of applications related to the Internet of Things (IoT). Qualcomm points out that the DragonBoard 410 is suitable for powering robots, cameras, drones, medical equipment, smart buildings and more.

The board will ship through third-party distributors in the summer but Qualcomm did not give a date or cost for the board. Because of the higher specification it is likely to cost more than the $35 charged for the Raspberry Pi and the roughly $75 being charged for the MIPS Creator 120 board. But it also likely that Qualcomm will want to keep the price below $100 to appeal to the maker community.

96boards specification

The DragonBoard 410c is compliant with the 96Boards Consumer Edition specification from the Linaro organization, which supports the hardware ecosystem for the development of a range of compatible add-on products, shields and accessories. 96Boards is the open platform specification for high-performance development boards supported by Linaro, the non-profit engineering organization developing open source software for ARM architecture.

The DragonBoard will provide operating system support for Linux and Android, but not as yet, Windows 10, something with the ARM-based Raspberry Pi 2 is receiving (see Raspberry Pi Gets Processor Upgrade, Windows OS).

Like the established competition, the DragonBoard 410c includes a wealth of wired connectivity including USB ports, HDMI, microSD (but no Ethernet port) as well as all manner of serial ports. However, the main differentiator is the wireless communications and tracking capability marking it out as more suitable for robotic and drone applications. The DragonBoard 410c supports Qualcomm's IZat location platform which can amalgamate data from navigate satellite systems, Wi-Fi basestations, and sensors to provide location information.

"The feature-rich functionality of the DragonBoard 410c will enable developers, makers and OEMs to utilize ARM technology to accelerate the rate of inventions and products reaching the embedded industry," said Noel Hurley, general manager of the CPU group at ARM, in a statement issued by Qualcomm.

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