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Tiny compute modules crank up Snapdragon 845 and Snapdragon 660

Jul 9, 2019 — by Eric Brown 1,360 views

Inforce announced two Micro SoMs with Android (and soon, Debian) BSPs running on octa-core Qualcomm SoCs. The Inforce 6701 showcases the high-end Snapdragon 845 while the Inforce 6502 taps the Snapdragon 660.

Inforce Computing unveiled a pair of Qualcomm Snapdragon based compute modules using the same 50 x 28mm Micro SoM form factor used in earlier products such as its Snapdragon 600-based Inforce 6401 and Snapdragon 820-based Inforce 6601. The new, Snapdragon 845-driven Inforce 6701 and Snapdragon 660-powered Inforce 6502 ship with BSPs for Android 9.0 Pie and Android 8.0 Oreo, respectively. Debian Linux BSPs are said to be “coming soon.”

Inforce 6701 (left) and Inforce 6502
(click images to enlarge)

Both the Inforce 6701 and Inforce 6502 integrate Snapdragon SoCs with neural acceleration support for AI. They both offer 802.11n/ac MU-MIMO WiFi and Bluetooth/LE 5.x via a Qualcomm WCN3990 module. Other common features include GPS/GLONASS chips, LPDDR4 RAM, onboard eMMC or UFS storage, and USB Type-C support.

The standard SKUs support a generous 0 to 70°C range with humidity resistance, and optional SKUs provide –25 to 85°C support, EMI shielding, and improved heat spreading and dissipation. The modules are each supported with carrier boards.


Inforce 6701

The Inforce 6701, which appears to be the first in a line of Inforce 67×1 modules, uses Qualcomm’s 10nm Snapdragon 845. This was the most powerful Snapdragon around until the similarly octa-core, but 7nm fabricated, Snapdragon 855 arrived this year. So far we’ve seen the SoC on Intrinsyc’s Open-Q 845 HDK and the
Robotics RB3 Platform from Qualcomm and Thundercomm, which is built around a DragonBoard 845c SBC that has yet to be released separately.

Inforce 6701, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The Snapdragon 845’s eight Kryo 835 cores are evenly split between cores that approximate Arm’s Cortex-A75 and lower-end Cortex-A55 architectures. The 845’s cores clock to 2.8GHz and 1.8GHz, respectively, and are boosted by a 3MB system cache. There’s also a powerful Adreno 630 GPU with “eXtended Reality” (XR) technology that can generate dual 2400 x 2400 @ 120Hz displays on VR headsets. The SoC’s Hexagon 685 DSP has a third-gen Neural Processing Engine (NPE) for AI applications, and there’s a dual-core Spectra 280 ISP that boosts 4K video capture to 60fps. (For more on the Snapdragon 845 see our Open-Q 845 report.)

The Inforce 6701 Micro SoM ships with 4GB of dual-channel LPDDR4 and 64GB of UFS storage. In addition to the WiFi/BT module, there’s a Qualcomm SDR845 GPS/GLONASS module for location.

Inforce 6701 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The Inforce 6701 provides 2x USB 3.1 interfaces, one of which supports a USB Type-C port that supports a DisplayPort interface with [email protected] support. The module can also handle concurrent [email protected] 10-bit encoding and decoding. The spec list shows dual 4-lane MIPI-CSI interfaces, yet elsewhere the module is said to have 3x CSI lanes.

The 3.8V/6A powered module is further equipped with 2x SD v3.0 connections and single PCIe Gen 2 and PCIe Gen 2 x1 interfaces. Judging from the block diagram, there are also analog and digital audio I/Os, dual 4-lane MIPI-DSI, and 4x BLSPs that support I/O including I2C, UART, SPI, and GPIO.

Unlike the Inforce 6502, there’s a “complete vault like Content Protection Framework to run your system in an secure environment with secure boot, DRM and content protection through StudioAccess content protection,” says Inforce.

Inforce 6701’s SoM +ACC-1C20 carrier and its block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

We did not see any detailed specs on the optional, $600 SoM +ACC-1C20 Carrier board, also referred to as an IFC6701-00-P1 reference design, but the block diagram shows most of the key elements. These include USB 3.1 host and Type-C ports, a microSD slot, an I/O expansion header, DSI and CSI connectors, an audio combo jack and headers, and a PMIC and battery header. Camera accessories are also available.

Inforce 6502

The Inforce 6502 follows several other boards that use the octa-core Snapdragon 660, including Inforce’s own Inforce 6560 Pico-ITX SBC and Intrinsyc’s Open-Q 660 HDK and 50 x 25mm Open-Q 660 μSOM module.

Inforce 6502, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The 14nm fabricated Snapdragon 660 has 4x Kryo cores clocked to 2.2GHz and 4x clocked to 1.84GHz. There’s also a 650MHz Adreno 512 GPU along with the Spectra and Hexagon co-processors. The latter offers AI support, but not to the level of the Snapdragon 845. (For more on the Snapdragon 660, see our Inforce 6560 report.)

The Inforce 6502 Micro SoM is equipped with 3GB LPDDR4 and 32GB eMMC storage. There’s a Qualcomm SDR660G GPS/GLONASS module in addition to the WiFi/BT module.

Inforce 6502 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The Inforce 6502 provides a USB Type-C interface based on USB 3.1 Gen2 that offers DP alternate mode support for a [email protected] display. Dual 4-lane MIPI-DSI interfaces offer 1080p support, and the 2x 4-lane MIPI-CSI connections can capture [email protected] video. There are also 3x mic-in and 2x line-out audio links.

The 3.3V/6A powered Inforce 6502 provides single USB 2.0 and SD v3.0 interfaces. There are also 4x BLSPs that support I/O including I2C, UART, SPI, and GPIO.

The carrier board situation is a little confused. The product page lists the same SoM +ACC-1C20 Carrier name and photo as the Inforce 6701. The same name is applied to the block diagram shown above, which shows a slightly different mix of features. Yet, the datasheet also lists two other carriers for the Inforce 6502.

Block diagram for Inforce 6502’s version of SoM +ACC-1C20 Carrier (left) and two other Inforce 6502 carrier options: the ACC1C20 and IOC6601
(click images to enlarge)

The IOC6601 is a mini-ITX carrier board that “expands all I/O and connectivity including dual MIPI cameras and DSI display,” says Inforce. There’s also an ACC1C20, which Inforce describes as “a small but complete carrier that brings out all native interfaces of the SDA660 processor including USB-C.” There’s a link to the Inforce 6301 SoM Reference Design, which appears to be identical to the small ACC1C20 board. Our report on the Snapdragon 410-based Inforce 6301 has more details on the carrier.

Further information

The Inforce 6701 and Inforce 6502 modules are available now. The Inforce 6701 sells for $285 or $300 (extended temp) and the Inforce 6502 lists only the $208 commercial temp SKU, both in single quantities. The SoM +ACC-1C20 Carrier is available as the IFC6701-00-P1 (6701) and IFC6502-00-P1 (6502) Reference Designs and sell for $600 and $500, respectively. It’s unclear what the prices are for the other Inforce 6502 carrier boards.

More information may be found in the Inforce 6701 product and shopping pages, as well as the Inforce 6502 product and shopping pages.

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