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Development kit showcases Cortex-A76 based Snapdragon 855

Apr 24, 2019 — by Eric Brown — 1375 views

Intrinsyc has launched a 96Boards CE form-factor “Snapdragon 855 Mobile HDK” that runs Android 9 on a 7nm, octa-core Snapdragon 855 with GNSS, WiFi/BT, and optional touchscreens and cameras.

Intrinsyc’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Mobile Hardware Development Kit is now available for $1,149, offering a development window into Qualcomm’s powerful Snapdragon 855 SoC. The new HDK runs the latest Android 9.0 Pie release.



Snapdragon 855 Mobile HDK with optional touchscreen
(click image to enlarge)

 
Snapdragon 855

While the Snapdragon 845 found on Intrinsyc’s Android 8.0-powered Open-Q 845 HDK was fabricated with a 10nm FinFET process, the Snapdragon 855 drops down to 7nm FinFET, resulting in significant power and performance advantages for its Kryo 485 cores. A recent AndroidAuthority story benchmarked several Snapdragon 855 based phones like the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus and Xiaomi Mi 9 against similar Snapdragon 845-based models and found the Snapdragon 855 phones were about 29 percent faster overall using AnTuTu benchmarks.

Single CPU core tests on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 — also called the Snapdragon 8150 or SM8150P — showed a whopping 46 percent advantage over the Snapdragon 845. This is due in part to the new tri-cluster design, which appears to use Arm’s DynamIQ scheme. DynamIQ enables more flexible core assignment configurations than available with the earlier Big.Little multi-core technology.

Whereas the Snapdragon 845 has 4x 2.8GHz Cortex-A75 cores and 4x 1.7GHz -A55 cores per Big.Little, the Snapdragon 855 has 4x Cortex-A76 cores and 4x 1.8GHz -A55 cores. In addition to using the more powerful Cortex-A76 architecture, the Snapdragon 855 adds more power/performance flexibility by dividing the -A76 cores up into 3x mid-range, 2.42GHz cores and one monster 2.85GHz core for peak loads. This lead core is augmented with 512KB L2 cache instead of 256KB on the other cores.

The Snapdragon 855’s companion chips have also received boosts. The GPU advances from an Adreno 630 to an Adreno 640, providing a 20 percent graphics boost per Qualcomm and 19 percent per AndroidAuthority’s benchmarks. There’s a new Adreno 544 VPU that adds HDR to the [email protected] playback as well as [email protected] playback and 360-degree video recording. The VP9 codec is also available.

The Snapdragon 855 offers dual 14-bit CV-ISPs supporting 48-megapixel cameras, up from 32MP. AI and machine learning algorithms are accelerated via an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Engine and a new Hexagon 690 DSP with 2x Victor eXtensions and a new Tensor accelerator.

Finally, the Snapdragon 855 is hyped for being the first 5G processor. That is true, however, only by adding a separate Snapdragon X50 5G modem. The Snapdragon 855 defaults to a much-improved, but not 5G, X24 LTE modem with approximately twice the throughput of the earlier X20 LTE: 2Gbps down and 316Mbps up. However, the X24 LTE does not appear to be included on the Intrinsyc HDK.

 
Snapdragon 855 Mobile HDK

While the Open-Q 845 and Open-Q 835 HDKs use a 170 x 170mm Mini-ITX form factor, the Snapdragon 855 Mobile HDK appears to adopt Linaro’s 96Boards CE Extended form factor. We saw no claims for compliance, but the board shares the format’s 100 x 85mm footprint and high- and low-speed expansion connectors. The CNXSoft story that alerted us to the launch notes that the SBC that forms the foundation for the kit is called the Open-Q 855.



Snapdragon 855 Mobile HDK and detail view
(click images to enlarge)

The Snapdragon 855 Mobile HDK ships with 6GB LPDDR4x RAM, 128GB UFS 2.1 flash, and a microSD slot. For communications, there’s a Qualcomm Wi-Fi Atheros (WCN3998) module with dual-band 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0. A GNSS location module supports GPS, GLONASS, Compass, and Galileo. Although it’s not mentioned in the documentation, the images show an Ethernet port next to the power jack.

The kit features a 60-pin high-speed connector with 2x 4-lane or 2x 3-Trio MIPI-DSI. There’s also a DSI-derived HDMI 1.4 port and a DisplayPort via a USB 3.1 Type-C port. A 160-pin camera connector provides 4x 4-lane or 4x 3-Trio MIPI-CSI with support for 3D cameras. The kit supports up to [email protected] or [email protected] decode plus [email protected] encode and concurrent [email protected] and [email protected] encode “for wireless display.”

Due to the small size, the optional 5.7-inch, 2560 x 1440 capacitive touchscreen connects from the 60-pin connector via a mezzanine daughtercard rather than being mounted directly on the board. The $389 kit, which includes audio, NFC, and SIM card connectors, is required for audio and video recording.

An optional camera kit offers 12- and 5-megapixel front-facing cameras and on the back dual 12-megapixel cameras in addition to a 13MP camera. We did not see a shopping page for the camera kit.

A Qualcomm WCD934 codec drives a headphone jack and audio headers including 2x speaker outputs, 2x analog mic inputs, 4x digital mic inputs, and an earpiece output. Volume controls are also available.

In addition to the USB 3.1 signals available via the DP-enabled Type-C port, there are 2x USB 3.0 ports and a micro-USB debug port. Other features include a mini-PCIe slot and and both GPIO and sensor expansion headers. The GPIO appears to be available through the 96Boards low-speed connector. There’s a 12V/5A input and adapter plus power and battery management chips and support for a third-party battery.

 
Further information

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Mobile Hardware Development Kit is available for $1,149, or $1,538 with the touchscreen kit. More information may be found in Intrinsyc’s Snapdragon 855 Mobile HDK announcement, as well as the product and shopping pages.
 

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2 responses to “Development kit showcases Cortex-A76 based Snapdragon 855”

  1. CNXSoft says:

    The Open-Q 855 reference is “hidden” at the end of the PDF datasheet:

    “Development Kit includes: Open-Q TM 855 HDK single board computer, 12V power adapter, USB cable, Quick Start Guide, access to documentation, SW updates, and basic Dev Kit support”

  2. Jeff Child says:

    Thanks. We’ve made the update to the story.

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