Qualcomm Robotics RB3 Development Platform is Powered by Snapdragon 845 SoC

[Update: The board is now known as “Qualcomm Robotics RB3 Development Platform” instead of DragonBoard 845c”, the rest of the article is unchanged]

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 is one of the fastest Arm processors found in consumer devices, and if you ever wanted a development platform with access to various I/Os, you’d have to go with fairly expensive kits (>$1,000) such as Intrinsyc Open-Q 845 HDK.

The good news is that there’s now a cheaper Snapdragon 845 development board, compliant with 96Boards CE specifications, thanks to Thundercomm’s Robotics DragonBoard 845c that combines with processor with 4GB RAM, 64GB UFS storage, and the usual 96boards ports and expansion headers.

96Boards TurboX 845 SoM
Click to Enlarge

Robotics DragonBoard 845c specifications:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 with
    • 8x custom 64-bit ARMv8 CPUs up to 2.8 GHz
    • Adreno 630 GPU  with support for OpenGL ES 3.2 + AEP, DX next, Vulkan 2, OpenCL 2.0 full profile, and RenderScript
    • Hexagon 685 DSP
  • System Memory – 4GB LPDDR4x SDRAM @ 1866 MHz
  • Storage – 64GB UFS 2.1 storage and 1x MicroSD card slot
  • Display
    • 2x 4-lane MIPI DSI, D-PHY 1.2 or C-PHY 1.0; VESA DSC 1.1
    • 1x HDMI 1.4 (Type A -full) connector
  • Video
    • 4K60 decode for H.264 High Profile, H.265 Main 10 Profile and VP9 Profile 2
    • 4K60 encode for H.264 High Profile, H.265 Main 10 Profile
  • Camera – Qualcomm Spectra 280 ISP, dual 14-bit ISP+one Lite ISP, 32 MP 30 fps ZSL with a dual ISP accessible via the board’s HS connector
  • Connectivity
    • 1x Gigabit Ethernet
    • Dual band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2×2 MIMO WiFi & Bluetooth 5.0 with on-board WLAN/BT/GPS antennas
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 Type A host ports, 1x USB 3.0 Type C OTG port, 1x USB 2.0 Micro B (Debug only)
  • Sensors – Accelerometer + Gyro Sensor/ Proximity sensor
  • Expansion Interfaces
    • High Speed (HS) 1 – 60-pin connector with 4L-MIPI DSI, 2x USB 2.0, 2x I2C , 2L+4L-MIPI CSI
    • High Speed (HS) 2 – 60-pin connector with 2x 4L-MIPI CSI, SSC SPI, PCIe 3.0, 1x USB 3.0, 9x GPIO
    • Low Speed (LS) 1 – 40-pin header with 2x UART, SPI, I2S, 2x I2C, 12x GPIO, and power signals
    • Low Speed (LS) 2 – 40-pin header with headset, stereo speaker, 3x DMIC I/F, CAN, I2S, 7x GPIO, 2x PWM, 2x ADC
    • Low Speed (LS) 3 – 20-pin connector with 3x SSC SPI, SSC I2C, 5x sensor interrupts
  • Misc – 7 LED indicators (4x user, 2x Bt/WiFi, 1x power); Power, Volume, Force Usb Boot buttons, and 6-way DIP switch
  • Power Supply – 12V @ 2.5A adapter via power barrel jack (4.75mm/1.75mm)
  • Dimensions – 85 x 54 mm as per 96Boards CE specifications
Robotics DragonBoard 845c
Click to Enlarge

I don’t think the board is strictly compliant with 96Boards CE, as you’re not supposed to have the Ethernet connector, and so many headers, but at least the other ports are in the standard location, and so are LS1 and HS1 connectors.

The company provides LE OS for the board. That’s a Linux distributions built using the Yocto Project, and hardware and software documentation can be found in 96boards website.

96Boards Snapdragon 845 Block Diagram
Robotics DragonBoard 845c Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

This all looks good, but there are caveats. First, the Linux OS is designed for robotics projects and does not support display, however you can still test video decoding and OpenGL ES, but via tools in the serial console,  the former by converting H.264/H.265 videos to YUV using Gstreamer, and the latter with an OpenGL ES conformance test.

The board is designed for the Qualcomm Robotics RB3 Platform pictured below which also includes Qualcomm Robotics Navigation Mezzanine board, a bracket, the main camera (OV8856), a tracking camera (OV7251), a 100mm coax cable, two 50mm coax cable, a powered adapter, and quick start guide.

Qualcomm Robotics RB3 development kitThe problem is that they won’t sell you the board separately, and it is only sold as part of the robotics kit. Qualcomm Robotics RB3 Platform is sold for $449 on Thundercomm website,  where you’ll also find extra accessories such as a ToF (Time-of-Flight) camera, an SLM Camera for 3D depth sensing, and a Machine Communication Mezzanine that adds 4G LTE connectivity to the platform. The kit may be sponsored by Qualcomm, as if you attempt to purchase the TurboX-845 SoM by yourself it would cost $549 per unit.

Thanks to Nobe for the tip.

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willy
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willy

It seems that the SoC uses Kryo385 cores, comprising 4 A75-like at .up to 2.8 GHz and 4 A55-like at up to 1.8 GHz. So while it’s still really cool, it’s important to note that these are not 8 identical cores.

blu
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blu

I was about to suggest that perhaps it would be a good practice that whenever we got snapdragon specs, the cpu config was listed in proper arm terms, Jean-Luc’s time permitting. Otherwise a reader’s (or at least mine) normal reaction is to go lookup the kryo config.