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96Boards SBC showcases Mediatek's deca-core Helio X20

Jun 27, 2016 — by Eric Brown 5,899 views

[Updated: Aug. 18] — MediaTek launched the fastest open-spec SBC to date with a 96Boards development board that runs Android on its deca-core Cortex-A53 and -A72 Helio X20 SoC.

The “MediaTek X20 Development Board” is MediaTek’s first 96Boards form-factor single-board computer, and the most powerful open-spec hacker SBC to date. Although we’ve seen some fast 64-bit SoCs among 96Boards SBCs, such as the HiKey, based on an octa-core, Cortex-A53 HiSilicon Kirin 6220, the MediaTek X20 Development Board offers an even more powerful Helio X20 system-on-chip processor.

MediaTek X20 Development Board
(click image to enlarge)

The MediaTek X20 Development Board will “soon” go on sale starting in Asia at an unstated price, and will be sold through ArcherMind Technology. The SBC is aimed at Android 6.0 driven applications, including virtual reality, advanced driver assisted systems (ADAS), mobile point-of-sale, smart signage, and vending machines. This is the first 96Boards entry we’ve seen to exclusively focus on Android rather than Android and Linux.

Helio X20 SoC details


Helio X20

The Helio X20 (MT6797) is a high-end member of the Helio family of 64-bit SoCs that MediaTek introduced in February. The deca-core Helio X20 and X25 are the only Helios to date with Cortex-A72 cores. The other Helios — the X10, P20, and P10 — are octa-core Cortex-A53 SoCs. Like the Helio P10, but unlike Helio X10, the Helio X20 splits its eight Cortex-A53 cores into two separate clusters, Big.Little style, in this case clocked to 1.95GHz and 1.4GHz. The Helio X20 then adds a pair of cores using the more powerful Cortex-A72.

MediaTek clocks the X20’s Cortex-A72 duo to 2.5GHz. This is despite the fact that the SoC nominally only clocks to 2.3GHz while 2.5GHz is reserved for an almost identical Helio X25, which was supposed to ship in the second quarter.

The Cortex-A72 which is found in SoCs such as the MediaTek MT8173 where two A72 cores are wedded with two A53 cores, or the NXP QorIQ LS2088A, which has eight 2GHz Cortex-A72 cores. Qualcomm offers a Cortex-A72 equivalent called Kyro on its quad-core Snapdragon 820.

The 20nm Helio X20’s “Tri-Cluster, deca-core” CPU subsystem is joined with a fast Mali-T880 MP4 GPU, which was launched as a recommended matched set with the Cortex-A72. The 800MHz Mali-T880 is said to be up to 1.8 times faster and 40 percent more energy efficiency than the Mali-T760. Once again, the line between the X20 and X25 is muddied, as the X20 was supposed to clock the GPU only to 780MHz while the X25 was to go to 850MHz. (SoCs based on a faster Cortex-A72 and Mali-G71 will arrive in 2017.)

MediaTek X20 Development Board details

The MediaTek X20 Development Board (initially called the “Helio X20 Development Board”) backs up the X20 SoC with 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM and 8GB eMMC 5.1 flash. There’s also a microSD slot, an HDMI port, two USB 2.0 host ports, and a micro-USB 2.0 device port.

Like most 96Boards SBCs, there’s no Ethernet port, but you get 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, and GPS. A 16-pin analog connector for I/O like headset, speaker, and FM antenna, is available along with the 96Boards standard 40- and 60-pin low- and high-speed expansion connectors.

Unlike some 96Boards SBCs such as the DragonBoard 410c, there are no camera connectors, or additional video interfaces, although MIPI-CSI and -DSI are available from the 60-pin connector. Interestingly, the HDMI port is limited to 1080p @ 30fps, despite the fact that the Helio X20 SoC offers 2160p30 encode and decode and 4Kx2K playback.

Although MediaTek’s MediaTek X20 Development Board spec table lacks details like dimensions, temperature range, and power, it’s clear from the photo that the board uses the 96Boards 85 x 54mm Standard form factor. ArcherMind will offer its own product page with perhaps more detailed specs, but this is not yet available.

Specifications listed for the MediaTek X20 Development Board include:

  • Processor — MediaTek Helio X20 (4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.4GHz, 4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.95GHz, 2x Cortex-A72 cores @ 2.5GHz ); ARM Mali-T880 GPU
  • Memory/storage:
    • 2GB LPDDR3 RAM
    • 8GB eMMC 5.1
    • MicroSD slot
  • Display — HDMI port for up to 1080p @ 30Hz
  • Wireless:
    • 802.11b/g/n/g WiFi
    • Bluetooth 4.1
    • GPS
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports
    • Micro-USB 2.0 device port
    • 40-pin low-speed expansion connector (UART, 2x I2C, SPI, 12x GPIO, DC power)
    • 60-pin high-speed expansion connector (4-lane MIPI-DSI, 2-lane + 4-lane MIPI-CSI, 2x I2C, USB)
    • 16-pin analog connector for audio and other analog
  • Dimensions — 85 x 54mm (96Boards Consumer Edition form-factor)
  • Operating system — Android 6.0

Further information

The MediaTek X20 Development Board is available for pre-order from ArcherMind Technology at an unstated price. More information may be found on MediaTek’s MediaTek X20 Development Board product page, and also at ArcherMind Technology’s MediaTek X20 Development Board product page.

(advertise here)

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2 responses to “96Boards SBC showcases Mediatek's deca-core Helio X20”

  1. Jare says:

    Can you fry eggs on it yet? ;)

    I wonder about TDP..

    Little amount of RAM for such monster.

  2. Jaroslav Svoboda says:

    So it can decode 4K but output just FHD. Thats a real shame.

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