The important update first: assuming all goes well, we should be launching our Kickstarter campaign on 23rd April, 2018 (i.e. exactly one week from now). I do request anyone who has not done so to subscribe at www.kiteboard.io/contact . Among other things, this helps us understand the *cellular* requirements. Please subscribe if you haven't already. Thank you.
Now, to the other part: I had earlier communicated that we will launch with the Snapdragon 625. I regret to announce that we will not be able to do so. Instead, I am forced to settle for the Snapdragon 450 (for reasons read below).
This downgrade effectively means the following:
- No 4K video encode/decode. (450 is limited to 1080p)
- The application processor is 1.8 GHz, instead of 2.0 GHz
- Reduces L1 cache by half - ouch ! (SD450 is 512 KB, compared to 1 MB in SD 625)
Summary: lower performance in some areas (I am not able to figure out the GPU performance difference. Any info here would be useful). How exactly it will impact you, I will leave you to decide that. Sorry for the change. I think it's better to do this right now.
I have mixed feelings about this, to be honest. Of everything, I was hanging onto the SD 625 for the 4K encode/decode capabilities. I am sad to see it go.
So – why did I decide on the Snapdragon 450? To answer that, let me tell you what I think are my responsibilities are in this project:
- Get great technology to everyone’s hands. Larger the community, better for everyone.
- Ensure that we have a great, predictable & deliverable plan. Once I start my campaign, there should be no going back. (If I am to lose face, now is a great time!)
- Run the project, with my team. Deliver as promised during the campaign.
This project includes certification plans of all sort. Global LTE will require us to have two SKUs for KiteBoard v2:
- North America (USA, Canada)
- Europe & Rest of the World
The largest number of folks who are likely to back this project will come from USA. My subscription list tells me that. Kickstarter provides a “Community” part for every project. A cursory scan on a few projects – and surely projects in the DIY Electronics category – will help prove that too. I expect 40-60% of my backers from USA, if not more.
So – USA is an important geography for this project. USA is also a problematic area for cellular connectivity – courtesy carriers & carrier certification requirements. Countless projects have been delayed due to cellular certifications. And famous ones. I am talking about people with deep pockets. I don’t want to add to that list. I have a great plan for predictable, on time delivery – if I stick to the Snapdragon 450.
But that’s not the only reason. Another equally important reason is that I am unable to see who is buying the Snapdragon 625, and for what purposes. This project is expected to deliver in Dec-Jan window for the early orders. 8 months is a long time in this business. And if I don’t have this visibility now, you can imagine what will happen next year. I need a minimum of 3000 backers, but that’s the minimum. I intend to do a great job – and that means that I should expect more people backing me.
With larger volumes, and longer life, comes a predictability requirement. That’s where the Snapdragon 450 scores again. It’s a fresh chip. The Snapdragon 450 also has most of the goodness of the 625 – two independent displays, two cameras(wee bit less powerful), USB 3.0, WiFi ac, and everything else, including Cat 6 LTE. What you lose is what I have mentioned earlier. Whether it’s worth losing that to get what this project gives you - that's something you need to decide.
There are other benefits of the SD450 being a “fresh chip” – software updates, and more value addition that could potentially be added by Qualcomm (APIs, and anything else). There could be a hidden benefit with the SD 450. Google has mandated (and I quote) that "All SoCs productized in 2017 must launch with kernel 4.4 or newer". To all external appearances, the 450 was productized in 2017. How “productized” is defined by Google isn’t really known to me, but at this point, I am free to speculate that Kernel 4.4 is a likelihood for Snapdragon 450. That should be cause for some cheer, however speculative that might be.
Also, with the 450, I have great visibility into the certification cycle. Whatever I publish when the campaign goes live, I am sure that’s eminently deliverable. So, that’s why I have my mixed feelings. My feather in the cap is lightened, but I have a great chance of making it a feather in everyone’s hands in a timely manner. With that, I rest my case!
Over to you guys. Let me know what you think!
Brickbats & comments welcome... I have edited the rest of the pages to change the processor from 625 to 450 too. The places where I changed the spec have a link back to this article. Hackaday seems to have no way to do overstrike text. (I wonder why for that last part)