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Qualcomm DragonBoard 600c 96Boards Development Board Includes Ethernet and SATA

May 8th, 2016 9 comments

A few weeks ago, I was informed that some code about DB600c board powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor (APQ8064T) was making it into mainline Linux, and more recently I found a website listing DragonBoard 600c with a low resolution picture of the board. While we don’t have the complete specifications yet, the form factor of the board is quite interesting, as we’ll find the typical 96Boards CE form factor on the right, and some extra interfaces on the left with Ethernet and SATA. It turns out, as we’ll see below, it’s perfectly compliant (hardware wise) with 96Boards CE “Extended Version” specifications.

DragonBoard 600c vs DragonBoard 410c

DragonBoard 600c vs DragonBoard 410c

Preliminary specifications of DragonBoard 600c board:

  • SoC- Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064 Fusion 3) quad-core Krait processor  @ 1.7 GHz with Adreno 320 GPU @ 400MHz
  • System Memory – 1GB or more RAM (TBD)
  • Storage – eMMC Flash + micro SD slot + SATA port
  • Video Output – HDMI up to 1080p
  • Video Playback – [email protected] HD video playback
  • Connectivity – Gigabit? Ethernet via PCIe . I can’t see WiFi and Bluetooth on the board, but since “Wi-Fi 802.11g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 LE” are required by 96Boards the specs, it could be on the back of the board.
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB port
  • Expansion:
    • 1x 40 pin low speed expansion connector – UART, SPI, I2S, I2C x2, GPIO x12, DC power
    • 1x 60 pin high speed expansion connector – 4L-MIPI DSI, USB, I2C x2, 2L+4LMIPI CSI
    • 1x 16-pin analog expansion connector – Headset, Speaker, FM antenna
    • One extra high speed? connector on the extended part of the board
  • Sensor – On-board magnetometer
  • Misc – Power, reset and volume buttons. 6 LEDS (4x user, 1x Wifi, 1x Bluetooth), RTC battery slot
  • Power Supply – 6.5 – 18V DC input (based on 96Boards specs)
  • Dimensions – 100 x 85 mm

The board should support the latest version of Android as well as Debian 8, based on the work done by Linaro on DragonBoard 410c.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I’ve included the mechanical drawing for 96Boards Consumer Edition Extended Version as it should that designer can pretty much do whatever they want in the extended area, except for the position of mounting holes and power jack, and the maximum height of components limited to 6.5mm for Extended A, and 15 mm for Extended B.

I’m not sure when the board will be formally introduced and available, but considering there are working samples for developers, and most features have been found to work, it might not be too far away. There’s also a DragonBoard 820c with APQ8096 processor in the works, but I could not find pictures, nor code commits about DB820c, so the launch is likely many months away, or possibly early next year.

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Debian on DragonBoard 410c Development Board

May 6th, 2016 29 comments

I purchased Qualcomm DragonBoard 410c development board last year, and first tested it and run some benchmark on the 96Boards compliant hardware with Android. I found that it was still work-in-progress, and decided to wait before trying Debian on the board. I’ve now done so, and will report by experience installing Debian Linux, playing with the board, and running Phoronix benchmarks to compare it to other ARM Linux boards.

Installing Debian on DragonBoard 410c

The first challenge is to navigate through the documentation that is not always clear or up-to-date. I eventually ended up on DragonBoard 410c Wiki on Github.

DragonBoard_410c_Debian_Android_Opearting_SystemsYou then have to decided which image you want. While there are two official operating systems with Android and Debian, you can three “entities” releasiong their own images. For Debian specifically, you have the Linaro image, and Reference Platform Build (RPB) image. I could not find any changelog or known issues with the former, but the latter as its own Wiki with the latest release being RPB 16.03 (March 2016), and the next one scheduled to be RPB 16.06 in June.

That’s the current list of known issues

  • bug 285 USB host doesn’t detect any plugged devices
  • bug 121 [RPB] Cannot soft power off or shutdown db410c
  • bug 284 [RPB] Dragon board Display sleep not working
  • bug 289 [RPB] USB devices don’t work after reboot
  • bug 207 [RPB] Bluetooth does not work on Dragon board debian
  • bug 153 [RPB] Missing information about hwpack usage

USB host not working did not inspire confidence, so I first tested the Linaro image. The (other) Wiki points to the “latest version”, but the link would point to Linaro Debian 16.02 release, while I could find a more recent Linaro Debian 16.04 which I downloaded in a terminal:

I used a micro SD card to install it. If you use Windows, simply use Win32DiskImager, but in computer running Linux or in Windows via Windows subsystem for Linux, you may want to do it in the terminal. First check the SD card device with lsblk. Mine was /dev/sdb, but your may be different, and I use /dev/sdX in the command below tp flash the Debian installer to a micro SD card:

Now remove the micro SD card from your computer and insert it in to the board, set the jumper to boot from SD card on the DragonBoard 410c, and connect the power. I could see LED 1 blinking, but nothing on my HDMI TV. Last time, I did not  manage to make the serial console (requiring a 1.8V USB to TTL board or cable) using Hardkernel ODROID board, so I went to the support forums, and after several minutes of reading, I found that the RPB image is recommended, as well as a clear explanation between the Linaro and RPB images:

Use the Reference Platform Build instead of the Linaro release. The Reference Platform is an integrated build with support for multiple boards, and that is where all engineering effort is going. The Linaro build is the old single-platform image that we’re not working on anymore.

The reference platform will run on all 96boards CE (Consumer Edition) and EE (Enterprise Edition), while the Linaro image is built specifically for a given board, and they are not really working on it. [Update: This answer was specific to Hikey board, and for DragonBoard 410c there are two images provided by Qualcomm Landing Team and the Reference Platform team]

So let’s start again from scratch using the RPB image, and download the bootloader, Linux kernel and rootfs to my Ubuntu computer:

Now find a micro USB to USB cable to connect to DragonBoard 410c, install fastboot…

.. and check the device is detected:

Good. After making sure the jumper switch is set to 0000 on the board again, we can  extract the three files, and install Debian as follows:

That was a lot of commands to install the operating system… Now you can unplug the board, remove the micro USB cable, and connect the power again. After a few seconds, you should see the kernel log, and eventually LXDE desktop environment.

Click to Original Size

Click to Original Size

You’ll be asked to configure WiFi, and you’re basically done.

DragonBoard 410c Debian System Info

I’ve then run a few command to learn more about the image and system:

One of the main advantage of 96Boards should be recent Linux version,and that’s exactly what we have here with Linux 4.4 running on the board. Out of a total of 866MB reported RAM, 64MB is free, and the 6.9GB rootfs has 4.8 GB available to the user. Snapdragon 410 SoC is correctly reported as being a quad core Cortex A53 (0xd03) processor.

I used file utility to make sure a 64-bit rootfs is being used here:

Finally, there’s a bunch of modules pre-loaded on the board:

Testing Debian on DragonBoard 410c

The thing that often do not work on ARM Linux board are 3D graphics and hardware video decoding, so I’ve specifically tested these two, and also played with the pre-installed Chromium browser.

If I understand correctly the debian image comes with Freedreno open source graphics driver, and if that’s the case I have the first ever platform with working open source 3D graphics drivers:

So that means both framebuffer and X11 3D graphics acceleration are working. Nice !

I also tried to play Tuxracer as it was part of the board’s test results provided by Linaro.

It works, but it’s so slow that it’s barely playable (see video below).

I installed VLC to play 1080op h.264 videos, but based on the CPU usage the system is clearly using software decoding, and there’s no audio via HDMI. I’ve asked about those two issues on the forums about 24 hours ago, but I have yet to get a reply.

Chromium loads OK, but I did notice some freezes during use, and YouTube will struggle at full screen at 1080p, in similar way to many other low end ARM Linux platforms.

DragonBoard 410c Linux Benchmarks

Let’s install the latest version of Phoronix…

…and run some benchmarks to compare against other development boards:

After over 3 hours the results are in. Bear in mind that the board does not have heatsink, just a metallic shield, and this may affects the performance. It’s also running an OS with a 64-bit ARM rootfs, while platforms like Raspberry Pi 3 features a 64-bit processor running 32-bit code.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I like to check John the Ripper for multi-threaded performance.

DragonBoard_410c_Phoronix_John_The_RipperWhile FLAC audio encoding is nice to single threaded performance.

DragonBoard_410c_Phoronix_FLAC

In theory the CPU performance of Snapdragon 410 and Broadcom BCM2837 (as found in RPi 3) should be equal since both are quad core Cortex A53 processors @ 1.2 GHz, but for some reasons DragonBoard 410c is a little slower in the multi-threaded benchmark, and quite faster during FLAC audio encoding likely due to software differences (Aarch64 vs Aarch32).

You can find the full results @ http://openbenchmarking.org/result/1605068-GA-1604204GA12

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Linux 4.5 Released – Main Changes, ARM and MIPS Architectures

March 15th, 2016 1 comment

Linus Torvalds released Linux Kernel 4.5 on Sunday:

So this is later on a Sunday than my usual schedule, because I just couldn’t make up my mind whether I should do another rc8 or not, and kept just waffling about it. In the end, I obviously decided not to,but it could have gone either way.

We did have one nasty regression that got fixed yesterday, and the networking pull early in the week was larger than I would have wished for. But the block  layer should be all good now, and David went through all his networking commits an extra time just to make me feel comfy about it, so in the end I didn’t see any point to making the release cycle any longer than usual.

And on the whole, everything here is pretty small. The diffstat looks a bit larger for an xfs fix, because that fix has three cleanup refactoring patches that precedes it. And there’s a access type pattern fix in the sound layer that generated lots of noise, but is all very simple in the end.

In addition to the above, there’s random small fixes all over-shortlog appended for people who want to skim the details as usual.

Go test, and obviously with 4.5 released, I’ll start the merge window for 4.6.

Linux 4.4 added support for a faster and leaner loop device, 3D support in virtual GPU driver, TCP improvements, various file systems improvements for BTRFS, EXT-4, CIFS, XFS etc… Some notable changes made to Linux 4.5 include:

  • Copy offloading with new copy_file_range(2) system call – Performance improvements on local file systems are marginal, but for networked file systems such as NFS, you could copy a file internally on a server drive without transferring file data over the network.
  • Experimental PowerPlay for amdgpu driver
  • Btrfs free space handling scalability improvements – New, experimental way of representing the free space cache that takes less work overall to update on each commit and fixes the scalability issues for large drives (30TB+). It can be enabled with -o space_cache=v2 mount option, and you can revert to the one method with -o clear_cache,space_cache=v1.
  • Support for GCC’s Undefined Behavior Sanitizer (-fsanitize=undefined) UBSAN (Undefined Behaviour SANitizer) is a debugging tool available since GCC 4.9. It inserts instrumentation code during compilation that will perform checks at runtime before operations that could cause undefined behaviors. Linux 4.5 supports compiling the kernel with the Undefined Behavior Sanitizer enabled.
  • Next gen media controller whose “goal is to improve the media controller to allow proper support for other types of Video4Linux devices (radio and TV ones) and to extend the media controller functionality to allow it to be used by other subsystems like DVB, ALSA and IIO”. See lkml for details

Some new features and improvements specific to the ARM architecture:

  • Allwinner:
    • Allwinner A80 support – IR receiver driver, NMI controller,PRCM driver, R_PIO support, and RSB driver
    • Allwinner H3 SoC support – H3 USB PHY clocks
    • A10/A20 Video Engine clocks
    • MIC1 capture for sun4i codec
    • Audio codec enabled on various boards
    • Added board – Orange Pi Plus
  • Rockchip:
    • Crypto module and io-domain driver enabled in multi_v7_defconfig
    • Tweaks for RK3368 SoC and eval board
    • Added Rockchip RK3228 SoC and eval board
    • New RK3228 subdriver in pinctrl
    • SPI driver fix
    • Added support for RK3399 in thermal driver
    • RK3036: Added SMP support, emac support
    • Expose USB PHY PLLs
  • Amlogic
    • Device tree changes – Add watchdog node to meson8b, add status LED for ODROID-C1
    • Watchdog timer modifications
  • Samsung
    • eMMC/SDIO minor fixes usage of bindings on Snow and Peach chromebooks.
    • Remove FIMD from Odroid XU3-family because on XU3 it cannot be used yet and on XU3-Lite and XU4 it is not supported.
    • Remove deprecated since June 2013 samsung,exynos5-hdmi.
    • Add support for Pseudo Random Generator on Exynos4 (Trats2 for now). This depends on new SSS clock.
    • Add rotator nodes for Exynos4 and Exynos5.
    • Switch DWC3_1 on Odroid XU3 and XU3-Lite to peripheral mode because  now it cannot be used as OTG.
    • Cleanup the G2D usage on Exynos4 and add it to a proper domain in case of Exynos4210.
    • Put MDMA1 in proper domain on Exynos4210 as well.
    • Minor cleanups
  • Qualcomm
    • New pinctrl subdrivers for Qualcomm MSM8996, PM8994,  PM8994 MPP support
    • Added Qualcomm PCIe controller driver
    • Qualcomm ARM64:  Add fixed rate oscillators to dts, fixup PMIC alias and properties, change 8916-MTP compatible to be compliant with new scheme, fix 8×16 UART pinctrl configuration, add SMEM, RPM/SMD, and PM8916 support on MSM8916
  • ARM SoC multiplatform code – “This branch is the culmination of 5 years of effort to bring the ARMv6 and ARMv7 platforms together such that they can all be enabled and boot the same kernel”
  • ARM64 – hugetlb: add support for PTE contiguous bit; perf: add support for Cortex-A72;
  • Other new hardware or SoCs – Sigma Designs ARM Cortex-A9 Tango4 “Secure Media Processor” platforms (SMP8756, SMP8758, and SMP8759), TI-based DM3730 from LogicPD (Torpedo), Cosmic+ M4 (nommu) initial support (Freescale Vybrid), Veyron-mickey (ASUS Chromebit), BCM2836 and Raspberry Pi 2 B.

MIPS changes:

  • Add support for PIC32MZDA platform
  • bcm963xx: Add Broadcom BCM963xx board nvram data structure
  • dts: Add initial DTS for the PIC32MZDA Starter Kit
  • math-emu: Add IEEE Std 754-2008 ABS.fmt and NEG.fmt emulation
  • math-emu: Add IEEE Std 754-2008 NaN encoding emulation
  • math-emu: Add IEEE Std 754 conformance mode selection
  • pci: Add MT7620a PCIE driver
  • ralink: add MT7621 support
  • zboot: Add support for serial debug using the PROM

If you want to get the full details, I’ve generated Linux 4.5 Changelog with comments only (12.2MB) using git log v4.4..v4.5 --stat, but it’s probably a better idea to simply check out Linux 4.5 changelog on kernelnewbies.org.

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The First Devices and Routers with WiFi 802.11ad Delivering Up 7Gbit/s Transfer Rates at 60 GHz Will Be Available This Year

March 7th, 2016 7 comments

802.11ad is the latest and fastest WiFi standard working in the 60 GHz band and delivering up to 7 Gbit per second data transmission rates. The 60 GHz  frequency band offers both advantages and disadvantages because it does not penetrate through walls nor water, meaning it can only be used within a room limiting the range, but at the same time it’s more secure since it cannot be snooped from the outside, and for people who worry about health effects it does not penetrate the human body. 802.11ad routers will also be able to switch to 2.4 and 5.0 GHz frequency bands in order to go through walls.

The table above nicely summarize the key features of 802.11ad over 802.11ac and 802.11n, however the throughput row shows the theoretical maximum throughput, but in practice, using 802.11ac as example, clients are often limited to 433 or 866 Mbps, and distance and obstacles will even lower the performance further.

Wikipedia also list the following key features for WiGig MAC and PHY Specification version 1.1:

  • Supports data transmission rates up to 7 Gbit/s – more than ten times faster than the highest 802.11n rate
  • Supplements and extends the 802.11 Media Access Control (MAC) layer and is backward compatible with the IEEE 802.11 standard
  • Physical layer enables low power and high performance WiGig devices, guaranteeing interoperability and communication at Gigabit rates
  • Protocol adaptation layers are being developed to support specific system interfaces including data buses for PC peripherals and display interfaces for HDTVs, monitors and projectors
  • Support for beamforming, enabling robust communication at distances beyond 10 meters. The beams can move within the coverage area through modification of the transmission phase of individual antenna elements, which is called phase array antenna beamforming.
  • Widely used advanced security and power management for WiGig devices

Applications for the higher bandwidth include faster download speeds, 4K wireless video, in-room gaming, etc…

60 GHz Frequency Bands for 802.11ac per Regions/Countries

60 GHz Frequency Bands for 802.11ac per Regions/Countries

If you want more technical details or/and finding how to test WiFi 802.11ad device, Agilent’s Wireless LAN at 60 GHz – IEEE 802.11ad Explained application note should be a good read.

TP-Link 802.11ad Router

TP-Link 802.11ad Router

So when will 802.11ad become available? Very soon, as TPLink unveiled Talon AD7200 Multi-band 802.11ad Wi-Fi Router at CES 2016, supporting up 7200Mbps Wi-Fi speeds over 2.4GHz (800Mbps), 5GHz (1733Mbps), and 60GHZ (4600Mbps) bands, and scheduled to be available in “U.S. stores in early 2016”, while LeEcho, previously known as LeTV, has just launched Le Max Pro (X900) smartphone featuring 802.11ad WiFi in China (also found in Aliexpress), and showcased in ARMDevices.net video where Qualcomm demonstrates 802.11ad with the phone by streaming a 4K video at 50 Mbps to a 802.11ad dock connected an UltraHD TV, and downloading data up to 2.6 Gbps with the phone.

Intrinsyc’s Snapdragon 820 Tablet Mobile Development Platform (MDP) also features 802.11ad, and according to a Qualcomm’s press release, Acer and Asus are working on 802.11ad notebooks, and USB adapter  reference designs and development kits will be offered by Sibeam and Peraso.

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Samsung Exynos 8890 Processor with Custom Exynos M1 and ARM Cortex A53 Cores Benchmarked

February 22nd, 2016 No comments

When Samsung announced Exynos 8890 processor, it promised 10% lower consumption and 30% high performance compared to Exynos 7 Octa. The company also said it make its own custom ARMv8 cores for the new, but at the time details were limited. Anandtech has now published more information, and Exynos 8890 octa-core processor will make use of four Exynos M1 custom cores combined with four low power ARM Cortex A53 cores, combined with a Mali-T880MP12 GPU.

Samsung_Exynos_8_Octa

Exynos 8890 key features:

  • Low power cores – 4x ARM Cortex A53 cores @ 1.586GHz
  • High performance cores – 2x Exynos M1 @ 2.60 GHz, 2x Exynos N1 @ 2.29 GHz; If 4 cores are running at the same time: 2.29 GHz maximum
  • Memory – 2x 32-bit LPDDR4 @ 1794MHz; 28.7GB/s bandwidth
  • GPU – Mali-T880MP12 @ 650 MHz
  • Manufacturing process – Samsung 14nm LPP

Now that Samsung Galaxy 7 has been announced with Exynos 8890 processor (at least one of its versions),  as well as LG G5 with Snapdragon 820 processor using Qualcomm custom ARMv8 Cryo cores, benchmarks have also started to show up.

Exynos_8890_benchmark_Snapdragon_820

Source: Phonearena

The two new processors are usually performing much better than last year devices in benchmarks except for graphics where the Apple A9 processor found in iPhone 6s still performs better, and somehow Galaxy Note 5 (Exynos 7 Octa) achieved a better than LG G5 in Vellamo Browser. There’s however a good reason for iPhone 6s out-performance here as its screen resolution is 1920×1080, while the new models have higher resolution (2560 x 1440). Luckily Anandtech has the good idea of running offscreen tests instead of on-screen ones, and the results are quite different.

exynos_8890_snapdragon_820_GFXBench_T-Rex-HD_OffscrenIt should be  noted that MDPs (Mobile Development Platforms) can somtimes deliver better performance than smartphone due to better cooling. AnandTech also noticed that both Snapdragon 820 based LG G5 and Exynos 8890 based Galaxy S7 smartphones got pretty warm after testing.

More details about the processor should eventually be found on Samsung Exynos microsite.

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Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon Wear 2100 for Smartwatches, 3 New Cortex A53 Mobile SoCs

February 12th, 2016 No comments

Qualcomm has unveiled four new Snapdragon processors with three quad and octa core Cortex A53 processors for smartphones with 4G LTE connectivity, and a new wearables SoC with lower power and, area compared to Snapdragon 400 series processor often used in smartwatches.

Snapdragon_Wear_2100

Snapdragon Wear 2100 SoC is the first processor part of Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear, of new platform targeting wearable devices, with the company listing the following highlights:

  • Quad core Cortex A7 processor @ up to 800 MHz or 1.2 GHz
  • Adreno 304 GPU
  • 30% smaller than Snapdragon 400
  • 25% percent lower power than Snapdragon 400
  • Integrated, ultra-low power sensor hub
  • Available in both tethered (Bluetooth and Wi-Fi) and connected (4G/LTE and 3G via X5 LTE modem) pin-to-pin compatible versions

The SoC supports Android Wear, and Android, and should be found in smart watches, smart bands, smart eyewear and smart headsets.

Snapdragon Wear 2100 and other Snapdragon Wear products are available now.

Snapdragon_425The company’s three new mobile SoC key features:

  • Snapdragon 425
    • Quad core Cortex A53 up to 1.4 GHz
    • Adreno 308 GPU
    • Display up to 1280×800 @ 60 fps
    • X6 LTE Cat.4 connectivity up to 150 Mbps DL
    • H.264 and H.265 codecs up to 1080p
  • Snapdragon 435
    • Octa core Cortex A53 up to 1.4 GHz
    • Adreno 505 GPU
    • Display up to 1080p60
    • X8 LTE Cat.7 connectivity up to 300 Mbps DL
    • H.264 and H.265 codecs up to 1080p
  • Snapdragon 625
    • Octa core Cortex A53 up to 2.0 GHz
    • Adreno 506 GPU
    • Display up to 1900×1200 @ 60fps
    • X9 LTE Cat.7 connectivity up to 300 Mbps DL
    • 35% lower power usage than Snapdragon 617
    • H.264 and H.265 codecs up to 4K

All three processors also support Quick Charge 2.0 (Snapdragon 425) or 3.0, Fluence noise cancellation technology, 16 to 24 MP camera with dual ISP, NFC, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, etc…

Qualcomm Snapdragon 435, 430, and 425 are pin-to-pin compatible, and all three new processors are expected in samrtphones in H2 2016.

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DragonBoard 410c Development Board Quick Start Guide and Android Benchmarks

November 21st, 2015 4 comments

Linaro’s 96Boards initiative was announced in February with the introduction of Hikey board, and while progress has been rather slow, there are now two boards available for sale: Lemaker Hikey and Qualcomm Dragonboard 410c. The main advantage of these board is that 96Boards is not only an hardware specification, but also a software specifications that mandate most code to be open source, with recent versions of Linux and U-boot, and in the case of Dragonboard 410c work is being done with Freedreno open source GPU drivers.

Now that I’ve got a board I’ll explain my experience with the purchasing process, take a few pictures, and show how to get started with Android, and install the latest version, before running a few benchmarks.

Ordering DragonBoard 410c Development Board

I normally don’t like purchasing from North American and European distributors, because of the potential documentation involved to comply with silly laws, high shipping fees, which are themselves compounded by import taxes at home and the courier’s handling fees, meaning a $75 board could easily ending costing $150… So I did not intend to buy the board at first, and just went to the Arrow’s Dragonboard 410c page to find out how much shipping would be…

The board ships from the United Stated, but to my surprise shipping was free via Fedex Economy.

DragonBoard_410c_ShippingSo I just went ahead, the checkout process was rather straightforward, and paid by Paypal on Wednesday, November 12, with an estimated delivery date of November 18. Not too bad.

Two days later, I received an email asked me to complete an FCC Purchaser’s Certification form, because while the board had passed the company’s internal EMC tests, it had not passed FCC certification yet, so I could only use it as an evaluation platform. EMC certifications is expected by the end of the month. So I filled it up and simply sent it back by email.

The following Wednesday my order was confirmed, and I received the board yesterday (November 20). So it took about a week between my order and shipping, so I’m pretty satisfied how it all went considering the board is sent for free.

I did not pay any import duties, but Fedex did request for 7% VAT, amounting to about $6.

DragonBoard 410c Pictures

I got the board in a box warning about static electricity.

Dragonboard_410c_PackageI’ve seen pictures of the board before with Green and Red PCB, but mine ended up being Cyan, although the overall design did not really change since the first prototypes.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

DragonBoard_410c_Angle

The main difference with the previous photos is that they added shields on top of the power circuitry, as well as on Qualcomm Snapdragon 410c and memory chips.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I’ve also take a picture with a few “friends” including Raspberry Pi 2, Orange Pi 2 mini, and Roseapple Pi boards. with DragonBoard 410c being slightly smaller.

Getting Started with DragonBoard 410c Development Board (in Android)

Linaro released the first Reference Software Platform for 96Boards a couple of weeks ago, and while Hikey supported both Android and Debian 8.2, ony the latter was released for DragonBoard 410c, so I was expecting the board to come pre-loaded with Debian Linux distribution, but instead it came with Android 5.1. That’s why I’m going to focus on Android in this first post, before checking out Linux in more details.

Since the board comes pre-loaded with an operating systems it should be easy to start with the platform, right? Sort of, but there are still some mini challenges to overcome.

First, the board takes 6.5 to 18V power supply as per 96Boards specifications, and the power barrel has a 1.7mm diameter instead of the more usual 2.1mm. That means all these 5V power supply I’ve accumulated can’t be used, so I had to find a 12V power supply, as well as some adapters to be able to connect it to the board. Luckily, I have a few 12V/1A power adapter from some TV boxes, and I have a 28 power jack adapters set to handle this case. If you don’t have any of those, you could also check out 96Boards power supply page with some recommendations.

12V/1A Power Adapter, and 2.1 to 1.7mm Adapter (Click to Enlarge)

12V/1A Power Adapter, and 2.1 to 1.7mm Adapter (Click to Enlarge)

Once I got this sorted out, I also connected a USB keyboard, and RF dongle for my air mouse, an HDMI cable to my TV, and an Ethernet… wait.. There’s no Ethernet port on 96Boards, so that’s it. As I connected the power, and LED quickly blink once, and then nothing for several (long) seconds, until I saw the Qualcomm boot animation, and later the lock screen.

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

These are the few apps pre-installed in the Android image.

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

And a look at “About phone” section shows MSM8916 for arm64 is running Android 5.1.1 on top of Linux 3.10.49. So I don’t think that image fully complies with 96Boards software specifications, and hopefully the Android release part of the Reference Software Platform will fix that.

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

I could connect to WiFi with issues, and transfer the screenshots via Bluetooth, since Android would not recognize my USB flash drive. Later on I found out micro SD cards work fine.

If you intend to modify the bootloader or kernel, you’ll most probably want to connect a USB to TLL board to the development platform. Unfortunately, while most development boards on the market are perfectly happy with a 3.3V or 5V power debug board, DragonBoard 410c board requires a 1.8V USB to TTL board which needs to inconveniently be connected to pins 1, 11 and 13 on the 40-pin low speed (LS) header.  I could remember that Hardkernel USB-UART board supports both 1.8 and 3.3V, and I got one thanks to the several ODROID board I was given to play with.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I fired up minicom in my Ubuntu computer, made sure it was set to 115200 8N1, but whatever I did I could not get any debug message on the serial console, even after switching Tx and Rx a few times… I tried to download Snapdragon 410 GPIO Pin Assignment from the Wiki, but the file in question had a “redirect loop”… So I gave up on that part for now.

Installing the latest Android Image

Eventually Linaro is going to update the firmware images and release the source regularly, so you’ll probably want to install the latest the latest build of the Android image, and I followed the instructions on 96Boards github wiki in an Ubuntu computer, which uses fastboot, and there’s also another method using a micro SD card.

Fastboot update

You’ll need fastboot utility to flash the firmware over USB. This command and all other below are typed from your Linux computer (Ubuntu/Debian):

Now download and extract the latest bootloader

Dragonboard_410c_fastboot_switchNow make sure S6 switch on the board is set to 0-0-0-0 as shown in the right photo, and that there’s no micro SD card inserted in the board.

Now keep pressing S4 button (Volume -), while inserting the power jack into the board, and after a few releas the button. You should be in fastboot mode. Let’s check it:

All good. Now flash all files with a single command

The output will start with:

It should take a few seconds to complete. If you forget to add sudo, the following message will show forever:

Now you’ll want to download the latest Android firmware files in your computer:

Once this is done, unzip and flash the files to the board:

Now unplug the power, and the micro USB cable, and put the power jack back into the board. Android should boot, but in my case it did not, and my power meter was stuck at 1 to 1.5 Watts instead of 2.0 to 3.0 Watts during a normal boot.

SD Card Update

So I fell back to the second update method, using a micro SD card. I’ve used a terminal windows in Ubuntu in the instructions below, but you could also use a Windows computer, and Win32DiskImager utility to perform the same tasks over a graphical user interface.

First download and extract the SD card image:

Now insert your SD card into your computer, and check your device with lsblk:

In my case, the micro SD card is 32GB, so my device is sdb. You need to replace <sd_device> with your own device in the command to dump the data to the SD card.

DragonBoard_410c_SD_Card_BootYou can now remove the micro SD card from your computer and insert it into the board.

Set the S6 switch to 0110 (boot from SD-card ,USB Host mode) as shown on the right.

Now power on the board, LED 1 will blink regularly, and after a while NOOBS should show up on your monitor or TV, asking you to choose the operating system to install.

DragonBoard_410c_NOOBS_AndroidAbout_Phone_Android_Qualcomm_Snapdragon_410Click install, and complete the process. Once it asks your to remove the SD card. Disconnect the power, remove the micro SD card, set S6 back to 0000, re-connect the power, and be very patient for the first boot. I propose you make some tea and coffee, drink it, go to relieve yourself, and come back later where Android will have hopefully booted.

My Linux kernel is now a little newer, but still dated in August. So they have not released any Android firmware for a few months. This should change for the December Software Reference Platform release.

If you want to go further with Android on the board, I recommend you read the Android User Guide (PDF),  and visit DragonBoard 410C documentation page on 96Boards.org.

DragonBoard 410c Android Benchmarks

I’ve also side-loaded a few benchmarks to find out more about the board performance. But first let’s see what CPU-Z reports.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Qualcomm Snapdragon 400/410 is properly recognized with a quad core Cortex A53 processor clocked between 200 and 1.21 GHz and an Adreno 306 GPU @ up to 400 MHz. The governor is set to interactive, so it may slightly negatively impact the benchmarks below. The system has indeed 1GB RAM, with 4.84GB internal storage available to the user out of the 8GB eMMC flash.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

After installing Antutu 5.7.1, it asked me whether I wanted to update to the 64-bit version for better performance. It’s the first time it happened in all my testing despite reviewing and benchmarking other 64-bit ARM systems before. The board scores 18,211 points in Antutu, quite lower as I expected compared to Amlogic S905 (quad core @ 2.0 Ghz -> ~28,000 points) and Rockchip RK3368 (octa-core @ 1.2 GHz -> ~34,000 points) processors also Cortex A53 cores.

Several smartphones have launched with Snapdragon 410 processors, so in theory it should be easy to find benchmark for comparison, but most of these phones come with a lower resolution 1280×720 display, and run Android 4.4. I still found Elephone Trunk with Snaprdragon 410, Android 5.1, and a 1280×780 scoring 21,500 points, so the score in DragonBoard 410c  appears more or less as expected.

Qualcomm_Snapdragon_410_VellamoVellamo 3.x should not run with Firefox at all, and only partially with Webview, so ignore the Browser scores. The board got 1,114 points in the multicore benchmark, or 786 points in the metal benchmark, which compares to respectively 1,572 and 763 with Amlogic S905 benchmark results.

DragonBoard_410c_3DMark_Ice_Storm_Extreme

Qualcomm DragonBoard 410c achieved 2,304 points in 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme compared to around 4,200 to 4,300 points in both Rockchip RK3368 and Amlogic S905 devices at the same 1920×1080 resolution.

Conclusion

As you can see from this initial review, 96Boards project is still very much work in progress on the software side, and I had wished some more common decision were made with regards to the specs (e.g. power supply, serial voltage, Ethernet…),  but at least the DragonBoard 410c platform should be interesting over time for people who want recent versions of U-boot, Linux and Android / Debian firmware, and source code, as well as an open source GPU drivers (Freedreno).

The next step should be to run Debian 8.2, but since the firmware is at the alpha stage with some issues like no HDMI audio, I may decide to take my time, and wait for the December release.

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Qualcomm DragonBoard 410c Board Now Supports Windows 10 IoT Core

October 30th, 2015 4 comments

Microsoft announced Windows 10 IoT Core for Raspberry Pi 2 and Minnowboard MAX boards a few months, and now the company has added a new ARM board to their Windows 10 IoT program with the soon-to-be-available Qualcomm DragonBoard 410c development board compliant with 96Boards specifications.

Dragonboard_410c

Windows 10 IoT Core for DragonBoard 410c adds support for onboard WiFi and Bluetooth, as well as DirectX graphics on top of features already supported on the Raspberry Pi 2. To get started, you’ll need a computer running Windows 10, and follow DragonBoard’s Winfows 10 IoT Core guide.

I assume most people familiar with Linux operating systems won’t suddenly jump ship to run a Windows operating systems, but Windows developers who got used to work with Visual Studio may be more comfortable with Microsoft’s environment. Out of curiosity, I’ve checked out if anybody had done any project with Windows 10 IoT core, and was surprised to find 186 projects on haskster.io.

As a side note, Microsoft and Arduino also announced further collaboration including support for Arduino Wiring, Windows Virtual Shields, and Windows Remote Arduino Experience.

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