After hitting Raspberry Pi 2, Windows 10 will head to Qualcomm's board

Qualcomm's DragonBoard 410c provides GPS, Wi-Fi and other features that Raspberry Pi 2 doesn't have

Qualcomm's DragonBoard 410c

Qualcomm's DragonBoard 410c

Raspberry Pi 2 has been the only announced option for enthusiasts looking to make electronics using Microsoft's upcoming Windows 10, but Qualcomm is now offering its DragonBoard 410c as an alternative.

The credit card-size DragonBoard 410c is a board computer that Qualcomm has priced at around US$75, which is double that of the $35 Raspberry Pi 2. But with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and 64-bit ARM CPUs, the Qualcomm board has a blend of horsepower, graphics and location-tracking capabilities not found on other board computers.

As a result, enthusiasts could use Windows 10 to make robots, drones or wearables that can be remotely tracked. The board also supports Linux, and can be used to make Internet of Things devices, medical instruments, industrial equipment and casino gaming consoles, according to Qualcomm.

Microsoft has said it would provide an optimized version of Windows 10 called Athens for free to users of ARM-based boards later this year. Qualcomm demonstrated its DragonBoard 410c board running Windows 10 at the WinHEC conference, which was held in Shenzhen, China this week. The board will ship later this year.

Microsoft is pushing out a version of Windows 10 to do-it-yourselfers and makers so the OS can be used in a wider range of devices. Tinkerers are consistently testing new ideas and concepts, and Microsoft wants to make sure its OS is in the next big hit device.

Smartphones with Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors already support Windows. But Qualcomm and Microsoft have a common goal to expand offerings for the IoT market. The number of networked and Internet-connected devices is expected to touch 30 billion to 50 billion by 2020, according to various estimates.

Developers who want to use Windows 10 for hardware development will get advanced circuitry and many wireless connectivity options with DragonBoard 410c, said Mike Roberts, senior director for the Qualcomm reference design (QRD) program and developer marketing at the company.

The DragonBoard has a Snapdragon 410 64-bit processor, while the Raspberry Pi 2 has older 32-bit Cortex-A7 CPUs. The Qualcomm board also has 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and supports iZat, which offers location tracking through GPS and mapping.

There are other features that could make DragonBoard 410c a better option for Windows 10 than Raspberry Pi. Qualcomm and Microsoft are members of the AllSeen Alliance, and Windows 10 will support the AllJoyn framework, a software platform designed to help devices easily recognize and pass on commands to each other, Roberts said.

Other applications of DragonBoard 410c with Windows 10 could relate to linking living room devices via AllJoyn and connecting industrial applications to Microsoft's Azure cloud service, a Qualcomm spokesman said.

Qualcomm will offer tutorials and documentation for Windows 10 on DragonBoard 410c in the coming months, Roberts said.

The DragonBoard 410c has an Adreno 306 graphics processor, which will be able to handle 1080p video. Other board features include USB ports, an HDMI slot and a micro-SD slot, DDR3 memory and board expansion slots such as UART, SPI, I2S, I2C and GPIO.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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Agam Shah

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