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Oreo-driven dev board showcases octa-core Snapdragon 845

Feb 26, 2018 — by Eric Brown — 936 views

Intrinsyc’s Android 8.0 powered “Open-Q 845” HDK debuts the Snapdragon 845 with 8x “Kryo 835” cores split between Cortex-A75 and -A55 like designs, plus security and neural network engines.

It’s Mobile World Congress time again, and that means it’s time for the latest ARM-based super SoCs to debut on the latest high-end smartphones. This year in Barcelona, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 is the star of the show. Not only is it debuting on several phones including Samsung’s Galaxy S9, Sony’s Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact, and Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 2S, but it’s available for pre-order on Intrinsyc’s $1,079 Open-Q 845 HDK Development Kit.

Open-Q 845 with optional touchscreen
(click image to enlarge)

The Android 8.0 (“Oreo”) powered kit, which follows last June’s Snapdragon 835 based Open-Q 835, is designed both for mobile device OEMs and manufacturers of other high-end embedded devices. (See farther below for details on the Open-Q 845.)

Snapdragon 845

Announced in December, the Snapdragon 845 is claimed to offer up to 25 percent faster CPU performance compared to the Snapdragon 835. Recent benchmarks conducted at Qualcomm headquarters by Android Police put Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 Reference Platform — which is probably very similar to Intrinsyc’s Open-Q — in first place over the Google Pixel 2 XL, Samsung Galaxy S8+, and five other phones.

Qualcomm’s simplified Snapdragon 845 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The Snapdragon 845 is not only faster than the similarly octa-core Snapdragon 835, but boosts the Adreno GPU with VR enhancements, beefs up the DSP’s neural network engine, and adds a security chip, among other improvements. Like the Snapdragon 835, the new model features “Kryo” cores fabricated with a 10nm FinFET process. However, it’s a more efficient 10LPP (vs. 10LPE) process that’s said to enable improved performance along with reduced power consumption.

Cortex-A75 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The Snapdragon 845’s eight Kryo 835 cores are evenly split between cores that approximate Arm’s latest Cortex-A75 and lower-end Cortex-A55 architectures, as compared to a similar split between Cortex-A73 and -A53 like Kryo cores on the Snapdragon 835. The 845’s cores clock to a faster 2.8GHz and 1.8GHz maximum, respectively, and are boosted by a larger 3MB system cache.

This is the first SoC to implement Arm’s DynamIQ, a more flexible version of its Big.Little multi-core scheme. DynamIQ can orchestrate up to eight cores in a single cluster, with each assigned its own performance and power characteristics. DynamIQ’s redesigned memory subsystem permits the cores to share its resources for lower latency and improved responsiveness, enabling faster data access, improved power management, and faster response between CPU and specialized accelerator coprocessors, claims Arm.

The Snapdragon 845’s new Qualcomm Adreno 630 GPU is claimed to offer 30 percent faster graphics and 30 percent less power than the 835’s Adreno 540, while offering 2.5 times higher throughput. It has also been enhanced with “eXtended Reality” (XR) technology that can generate dual 2400 x 2400 @ 120Hz displays on VR headsets.

The Adreno 630 subsystem adds support for room-scale 6DoF with SLAM and Adreno Foveation technology for a more immersive and less power-hungry XR experience. Other features include OpenGL ES 3.2, OpenCL 2.0 Full, Vulkan, and DX12 support.

The Hexagon 685 DSP offers only modest improvements over its 682 predecessor, but it also incorporates a third-gen Neural Processing Engine (NPE) for AI applications, which according to Qualcomm can double or triple AI performance. The NPE is supported by a Linux- or Android-targeted Qualcomm Neural Processing Engine SDK. The Hexagon 685 also offers improved voice recognition and low-power voice processing, says Qualcomm.

Galaxy S9 with
Snapdragon 845

Closely integrated with the Adreno 630 and Hexagon 685 is a Spectra 280 ISP that boosts 4K video capture to 60fps instead of 30fps. The ISP can also capture video with the more color-rich HDR technology, matching the Adreno 630’s support for playing video with HDR.

The Snapdragon 845 integrates the second-generation Snapdragon X20 LTE modem, which supports LTE Category 18 peak download speeds of 1.2 Gbps. The modem also supports up to 5x carrier aggregation, License Assisted Access (LAA), Dual SIM-Dual VoLTE, and 4×4 MIMO on up to 3 aggregated carriers.

The SoC’s 802.11ac WiFi modem is said to be enhanced with up to 16x faster connection setup, improved simultaneous dual-band support, and 30 percent more capacity utilization on carrier WiFi networks, compared to the 835. There’s also support for WiGig60 802.11ad. Finally (but not exhaustively), the 845 supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+ technology, which is claimed to be capable of charging a phone up to 50 percent in just 15 minutes.

Open-Q 845

Intrinsyc’s Open-Q 845 HDK Development Kit has the same Mini-ITX (170 x 170mm) footprint and sandwich-style design as the Open-Q 835. The Snapdragon 845 is integrated in a COM-like board topped by a heatsink. Options include a smartphone like 5.7-inch QHD (1440 x 2560) touchscreen controlled via MIPI-DSI, as well as a camera board with dual rear-facing cameras and a front facing camera.

Open-Q 845, front (with optional touchscreen) and back
(click images to enlarge)

The Open-Q 845 runs Android 8.0 on the Snapdragon 845 SoC with the help of 6GB LPDDR4x RAM. There’s also a microSD slot and a 128GB UFS 2.1 flash drive. Like the Open-Q 835, the board offers Bluetooth 5.0 + BLE along with 2.4/5GHz 2×2 802.11a/b/g/n/ac and the latest WiGig60 802.11ad WiFi with onboard antenna.

The Open-Q 845 is further equipped with a GNSS daughter card with GPS, GLONASS, COMPASS, and Galileo support, plus a PCB antenna and SMA connector option. There are mini-PCIe and PCIe slots (only one works at a time) for further wireless and peripheral expansion.

Video ports include a USB 3.1 Type-C DisplayPort, a DSI-driven HDMI 1.4 port, and dual 4-lane MIPI-DSI connectors. You also get 3x 4- and 2-lane MIPI-CSI ports on a single 120-pin connector that support dual 16-megapixel or a single 32-megapixel camera. The kit supports the Snapdragon 845’s capability for 4K @ 60fps, 10-bit HDR video playback and capture using H.264 (AVC) and H.265 (HEVC) compression.

A headset jack and analog audio input and output headers are driven by a Qualcomm audio codec. In addition to the DP-ready USB 3.1 Type-C, there are dual USB 2.0 host ports and a micro-USB serial port. Other features include NFC and sensor expansion headers with I2C, SPI, UART, and GPIO.

The kit includes a power management function, as well as 12V/3A input from wall adapter and a 3000mAh Li-Ion battery.

Further information

Intrinsyc’s Open-Q 845 HDK Development Kit is available for pre-order at $1,079. No ship date was listed. More information may be found on the Open-Q 845 product page.

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