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Snapdragon 820 Tapped for Embedded

March 6, 2018

Author: Linley Gwennap

Qualcomm has elevated the Snapdragon 820 processor into its pantheon of embedded products, granting this popular device a 10-year lifespan and a new designation as the 820E. The 820E will sell both directly and from a distributor (Arrow Electronics) through at least 2025. It is well suited to embedded and IoT systems with high processing requirements, high-resolution cameras, or complex displays.

The 14nm design has four ARMv8 CPUs based on the company’s original Kryo design, a powerful Adreno 530 GPU, a Hexagon 680 DSP with SIMD extensions, a 4K video engine, an image processor (ISP), an audio engine, and a GNSS (location) baseband. The embedded version operates two of the CPUs at a maximum of 2.35GHz and the other two at up to 1.6GHz. The processor sports multiple camera and display interfaces as well as USB3.0 and three PCI Express 2.1 lanes, but no Ethernet connectivity.

Qualcomm complements the SoC with two external power-management chips (PMICs) and an audio-codec chip. Applications that need GNSS capability require an external RF chip (WGR7640). The platform also includes the optional QCA6174A, which provides Bluetooth 4.2 and dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO.

To simplify the design task, Qualcomm created the DragonBoard 820c, which comprises the processor, the PMICs, the audio codec, and all wireless-connectivity options noted above, plus 32GB of flash memory and 3GB of LPDDR4-1866 DRAM. A third-party Gigabit Ethernet chip adds wired networking. The credit-card-size board includes connectors for SD storage, an HDMI display, Ethernet, and USB devices. An expansion connector supports mezzanine cards for the Linaro 96Boards specification. Arrow sells the 820c for $199 in single-unit quantities. Qualcomm also offers the schematics for the DragonBoard as a reference design.

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