Here Are the Specifications for the Snapdragon Developer Kit

Posted on May 28, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Windows 10 with 87 Comments

Many were excited by Microsoft and Qualcomm’s announcement about a Snapdragon Developer Kit, but it was light on specifics. Key among them, which ports are on the back of the thing?

Fortunately, we now have the Kit’s full specifications. They are:

SoC. Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Compute Platform (SC7180, ARMv8-based).

RAM. 4 GB LPDDR4 RAM.

Storage. 64 GB eMMC.

Ports.

  • USB 2.0 Type-C (PD-Charging)
  • USB 2.0 Type-A
  • MicroSD
  • Micro-SIM card slot type
  • USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A
  • HDMI
  • LAN (10/100 Mbps)

Connectivity.

  • Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
  • eSIM for cellular connectivity

Dimensions. 119 mm (w) x 116.6 mm (d) x 35 mm (h)

Weight. 0.23 kg

Naturally, we still have questions. Is the eSIM 4G/LTE or 5G or both? Which version of HDMI? Etc.

And, this is a very low-end PC, even in the Qualcomm space. To date, all of the Qualcomm-based PCs we’ve seen have used flagship-class 8x-series chipsets, and they’re all pretty slow. This will be even slower.

Thanks to Greg H. for the tip!

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Comments (87)

87 responses to “Here Are the Specifications for the Snapdragon Developer Kit”

  1. Avatar

    codymesh

    These are literally below mid-range phone specs. What should our expectations for Windows to be on these things?

    • Avatar

      solomonrex

      I think windows is less demanding these days. Certain applications aren’t, but windows is fine.

      • Avatar

        codymesh

        eh, true, but we use webapps and complex desktop apps on PC. Does this bode well for a mid-range phone SoC running Windows?


        The reason why we don't use webapps on our phones is because the performance is bad. Putting Windows on the same SoC isn't going to change it. Phones get stuff done using native apps....and the native apps are not as complex as desktop apps.

        • Avatar

          wright_is

          It means developers will actually have to think about their coding again, for a change.


          When I started programming, you wrote the code for the lowest common denominator. Nowadays developers have Marie-Antoinette Syndrome, they stand on the balcony looking down at the baying users and cry "let them eat cake!" (let them buy more powerful hardware).


          Just because the developer has more power at their disposal, it doesn't mean they need to write sloppy code to do the same thing that could be done with a 10th of the resources. Yes, it is nice not to have to worry about cramming everything into 64KB. But that doesn't mean that the programmers shouldn't take pride in making efficient code.

          • Avatar

            gedisoft

            So true. At me previous employer dev's insisted their (dev) workstation were top-notch Core i7 / 32GB Ram / fixed (!!) 1 GB LAN.....and they were very surprised customers (with low end core i3 laptops on wifi) complained that the software was extremely slow. Also test data was about 100 invoices (it was a financial processing software) and you can guess what happened when the first real customer imported about 64 000 invoices.

            • Avatar

              wright_is

              The last 2 software companies I worked at, the devs worked on thin clients attached to the Linux terminal server, just like everyone else. They did have separate build machines and test VMs, running on a lower powered server.

    • Avatar

      Paul Thurrott

      Low. Your expectations should be low.
    • Avatar

      hrlngrv

      | What should our expectations for Windows to be on these things?


      Are you old enough to recall building large memory model 16-bit software with MSC5?

  2. Avatar

    wright_is

    USB 2 and 100mbps Ethernet, are they stuck at the turn of the century??

  3. Avatar

    scovious

    I'm so pleased that they went with HDMI, I would like to see computers move away from Displayport as much as possible. HDMI is much more universal when you factor in televisions.

    • Avatar

      zamroni111

      Display port has higher bandwith than hdmi which is why gpu usually has 3 of them. Dp to hdmi dongle is cheap as well.

      Hdmi is suitable for laptop, especially for business user to connect to projector in pre cough it era.


  4. Avatar

    reefer

    Yeah, sorry but Windows is Intel (AMD), nothing more, nothing less.

  5. Avatar

    crunchyfrog

    Looking past these specs, I suppose this is primarily intended to be a low cost box for devs to test software with and not use this for anything invigorating. If the test box is too expensive they may just pass on developing.

  6. Avatar

    chrisltd

    8 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage seems like the minimum for a dev box these days. It would stink to have to build your app on another device and take the extra step of sending it to this thing for testing.

  7. Avatar

    ikjadoon

    To clarify: Wi-Fi is not included, unfortunately. It is an optional, paid accessory.


    Optional: 802.11ax (PCIe Interface Only)


    Sigh. Is this going to be cost-competitive with the Raspberry Pi Model B even? 4x USB ports, dual HDMI (4K60 x 2), 8 GB of RAM, Gigabit Ethernet. Wi-Fi 5 for $75 (no enclosure). Might as run Windows on Arm on the Raspberry Pi than this, at that point: at leas you'll have guaranteed Linux support, as well, plus a much larger community for developers.


    Hope it's dirt-cheap. Shouldn't be a penny over $200 if they want to sell these in volume and really push WoA to a new level.

    • Avatar

      hrlngrv

      If these machines are intended only for testing newly built ARM software, most of them would be deployed on the same desk as the machine building that software, so connecting the 2 machines with an ethernet cable may be all the networking that the overwhelming majority of intended users would need.

    • Avatar

      wright_is

      The Pi is to slow with 4K. Running Firefox on my Pi 400 on a 4K display is very laggy.

      • Avatar

        angusmatheson

        The base model raspberry pi costs $35. For its price it has amazing performance. And every generation it gets faster and faster.

        • Avatar

          wright_is

          The Pi 400 costs around $100 and is the most powerful version (clock speed) that has been produced - although the Pi 4 can have up to 8GB RAM, whereas the 400 is limited to 4GB.


          Its performance is "ok", but using Firefox to load a modern web page is slow in PiOS or Manjaro - loading YouTube, for example, on my laptop takes about 3 seconds to fully render, on the Pi 400, it takes well over 10 seconds, likewise video stutters to start with.


          It is a great bit of kit, but attached to a 4K display, it is a poor desktop "replacement".


          I used a pair of Pi 3Bs for various activities, such as PiHole DNS, for that they are the perfect solution, fast enough and energy efficient.

    • Avatar

      MikeCerm

      The Snapdragon 7c is literally 3x the speed of the Raspberry Pi, but that's still pretty slow. It's between the N4100 and an i3 from 3 generations ago.

  8. Avatar

    jimchamplin

    Is there a particular reason Microsoft doesn’t have an image for RPi 4? It would still require a valid license to activate, but for chrissakes, get the thing out there, and make it one of the options in the Media Creation Tool.


    Support ARM, not bloody Qualcomm. I’m sure that AllWinner, RockChip, or Broadcom would be happy to invest in their ARM CPUs to run Windows.

    • Avatar

      waethorn

      Driver and firmware support. RPi doesn’t meet minimum requirements for WinQual and Broadcom’s support of their old chips is almost exclusive to the RPi Foundation, what with nobody else using them anymore.

  9. Avatar

    curtisspendlove

    So, here’s the thing.


    Microsoft needs to attract developers. They have to create incentive to get developers excited to port their software over to ARM.


    This is nowhere close to that device.

    • Avatar

      hrlngrv

      At 64GB storage, wanna bet the thing craps out by its 3rd upgrade, so 23H1 or so?


      I suppose if one keeps as much of %USERPROFILE% as possible on a usb drive along with ALL one's own source code files and ejecta from the build process, 64GB might be adequate.

  10. Avatar

    spiderman2

    I like the fact that it has low specs, finally the devs can optimize their code... instead of lazy devs running slow and heavy electron apps on their high specs PCs

    • Avatar

      curtisspendlove

      Here’s the problem with that, though:


      They won’t. They won’t be given the time to optimize an electron app into a “native experience”.


      And how well is this thing going to run a PWA. I guess “fine” is the answer; if you’re running chrome / edge with a tab or two.


      But browsers take a lot of RAM. And SPA’s (like Angular / React apps can gobble up significantly more if they are coded to cache things for perceived performance).


      I just don’t see this as an effective “testing kit”, let alone “developer kit”.

  11. Avatar

    JH_Radio

    lol, the WiFi6 will go faster at than the wired connection because the LAN is capped at 100MBPS. yikes.

  12. Avatar

    JH_Radio

    So here's a question. Will Qualcomm have more than one chip you know like AMD and Intel? Think about Apple and what they gave the devs and now consumers. Its one chip. Sure the ram and storage options can be configured but its one chip for anything and everything. No matter what device its ran on (iPad or MAC), its designed to be fast for both things. But they're different than MS too in that they have a much smaller audience. Like what will MS do. Have Qualcomm for the very low end, then AMD and Intel core next? I'd think with Apple everything is just easier, no partners, and the strategy would be easier than MS.

  13. Avatar

    angusmatheson

    Ha anyone tried WOA on a respberry pi 4? I have one and really want to try it now.

  14. Avatar

    waethorn

    What is the performance like NOW on the up-to-date M1 Mac version of Parallels Desktop and current build WoA?


    I’m also curious about the memory footprint of Windows on ARM64 vs AMD64.

  15. Avatar

    diegonovati

    It seems WoA will never take off: I have successfully used the Apple DTK, but this one is not ready at all to support the development of applications for WoA. Sorry Microsoft and Qualcomm but don't do something just to copy Apple without putting any effort in it.

    • Avatar

      james.h.robinson

      Wasn't Windows on ARM announced years before Apple announced ARM-based Macs? Not sure how Microsoft is copying Apple.

      • Avatar

        SvenJ

        Yea, MS had WOA before M1 (ARM) based Macs, but Apple has been running ARM based OSs for a long time. Their ARM MacOS developer kit actually ran on a iPAD ARM processor. Not sure anyone is copying anyone, or me-too-ing it. Do think MacOS on (arm-based) Apple silicon is more of a natural progression than Windows on ARM.

  16. Avatar

    ianbetteridge

    There’s no way this is a spec to build anything on. Surely this is a test rig rather than a build one?

  17. Avatar

    sharpsone

    Would make a decent thin client, let the cloud to the hard work... See some complaints it wouldn't run games well this clearly isn't for that market segment... It's a lightweight, low power pc for kiosks, light workloads or VDI access.

  18. Avatar

    ponsaelius

    This specification makes Apple look even better. It is a poor advertisement for Windows on ARM.


    Microsoft first dipped their toe in the water with Windows RT. I doesn't feel much of an advance for Windows.

    • Avatar

      wright_is

      This isn't kit for users, this is kit for developers to test their applications on. If it runs on this, it should fly on "normal" WoA kit. Getting the developers to test on this low-powered kit (test, not develop!!) will incentivise them to write efficient code.

  19. Avatar

    mikegalos

    And that's actually what you want in this case. Remember this is a device for testing ported code. The idea is to have a device to make sure your application works on a relatively minimal system. If your test devices are all top of the line you end up with your team not really doing a good job of testing on the annoying base model systems.



    • Avatar

      lvthunder

      I wouldn't even consider this base model specs. 4GB, USB2, and 10/100 LAN? What year is this? I think I have a Pentium 4 machine with these specs.

      • Avatar

        wright_is

        Our reference PC for our users is a Core i3 with 4GB RAM, although we do have gigabit Ethernet and USB-3 ports - although do you really need USB 3 for a keyboard and mouse?

    • Avatar

      bkkcanuck

      IMHO, this is just a way to bend over backwards trying to excuse this 'Development Kit' (not test kit - test kit would be like Apple's running the software on a given end user device).

    • Avatar

      bkkcanuck

      You want something that represents something around the low end 'usable hardware' to test, but not necessarily to develop (you want a reasonable computer). If this is going to represent the low end of the Microsoft Windows hardware (Microsoft does not have 'Windows Phone' OS).... then Windows low end hardware is going to be crap similar to the Netbook craze. If this is the development platform (not test platform) then this is just crap IMHO.

    • Avatar

      vernonlvincent

      This is 100% correct. The benefit of this kit is that you are designing against absolute minimum specs. It means that any apps should run that much better on higher-end hardware.


      Look at the ports. Even the LAN is only 10/100 - not even gigabit. The USB ports are all 2.0 except for one. We're looking at a barebones minimum kit that seems intended to help devs work on what a baseline experience should be.

    • Avatar

      dstrauss

      I agree with bkkcanuck and lvthunder - it may look like MS is copying Apple, but at the very best it is a bench test for a minimalist experience. It doesn't even have the lame two year old processor in a MS Duo! It's like MS is saying good bye to WOA.

    • Avatar

      hrlngrv

      Ah, as in if it runs on this POS, it should run on any ARM hardware.


      That said, if this is purely for testing built software but NOT for building that software, would that mean MSFT expects most software developers to build software on Intel/AMD PCs?

      • Avatar

        wright_is

        I would say, yes. They will build on their normal development rig and target the executable to ARM architecture. This is how it used to be done.


        When I was growing up, I had friends who developed for C64 and Amiga. Often they would work on a mini-computer with a full editor and would then compile/assemble their code for the C64 - with the Amiga, it became easier to write the code directly on the Amiga.


        It was only once the developer tools on microcomputers became more user friendly than those on the minis and mainframes that "big" developers developed directly on the target hardware. When Windows was available on MIPS, Alpha, and Itanium platforms, you didn't need to write the code 3 times or compile it on each platform, you just threw a switch and then copied the compiled code over to the target platform for testing.

  20. Avatar

    Chris_Kez

    Compare this to the developer transition kit that Apple offered last year: A12Z processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD. These Snapdragon specs are tremendously underwhelming; it's like cheap Android or Windows 8 tablet bad. Maybe they figure if you can get something to run acceptably on that hardware then it will be really smooth on a properly spec'd device?

    • Avatar

      bkkcanuck

      I was really expecting about 8 to 16GB of Memory, and least 256GB of SSD (max 500GB) and at least a 1GB ethernet port... (who sells 100MB wired networking anymore).

  21. Avatar

    rmlounsbury

    Interesting that the "developer" kit is so low end. It should make it super affordable and maybe Microsoft just wants people to pick it up and tinker with it and have no barriers to entry. I also get wanting to make sure apps developed for WOA will run on anything but even considering that this is so low end. Curious.


    I presume this is going to be bargain bin priced (south of $300). If so I'll pick one up for a lab device.

    • Avatar

      spiderman2

      I prefer when a developer kit is low end, it means devs really need to optimize their apps... not like nowadays that they use high end pcs and they don't care that their electron apps are so slow and heavy

      • Avatar

        lvthunder

        It depends on what you are developing. I'll use Photoshop as an example because it's the latest to be ported. There is no way it's going to be able to run all the commands. Maybe they need two or three levels of developer boxes.

        • Avatar

          wright_is

          True, but a majority of apps don't need anywhere near the resources of the Adobe suite.


          Typical business users need Office, CTI software, a browser and a few bespoke applications that don't use that many resources. For developing and testing them, you don't need that high a spec.


          The same for device drivers, you don't need high specs to test printer, scanner, industry equipment etc. drivers. You need a good, solid and reliable system that you can quickly re-image between builds.

        • Avatar

          syneryder

          Interesting that you mention Photoshop. I've been looking at this developer box specifically for recompiling Photoshop plug-ins to work on Adobe's new Windows ARM version. If this thing isn't powerful enough to run Photoshop, then it doesn't even work as a developer kit for me.


          I'm okay with it being low spec, but only if it's extremely cheap. When Mary Jo suggested it would be $300, I doubted they could get the price that low. But seeing these specs, $300 now looks way too expensive for this. I'd be better off putting the money towards a refurb Galaxy Book S with twice the RAM & 4x the storage & being able to work from anywhere.

      • Avatar

        wright_is

        My thoughts exactly. We always had the "standard" user PC to test on. We were never allowed to use our development rigs for testing. They don't have a standard install and they are way faster than a normal user's machine.

        • Avatar

          curtisspendlove

          I dunno. Not for final testing, no. But you need to iterate on a fast machine. You can always use toolkits to artificially throttle fast hardware for “performance testing”.


          And then of course, the final rounds of testing on actual equipment. But that should be layered.


          You should always have a powerful, fast version of whatever you’re deploying to for iterative dev/test.

        • Avatar

          rmlounsbury

          Like I said, I get that. But this bugger is using some pretty outdated tech.

          • Avatar

            curtisspendlove

            Yup. My other concern. Like I’ve mentioned, is that they need to trigger some excitement.


            Or maybe they don’t. They don’t seem to care about consumers much anymore anyway. So maybe they have just conceded that business customers are what they want.


            In that case, yeah. This is fine. I can go to work, dev / build / iterate on my main rig and deploy to this when I need to show it to anyone on actual hardware; collect my paycheck and go home to play around on my PlayStation, iPhone, and iPad and watch Roku.

            • Avatar

              peterc

              >> They don’t seem to care about consumers much anymore anyway. So maybe they have just conceded that business customers are what they want.


              This is absolutely the case. In my opinion, cancelling Win 10X and focussing on Windows desktop and WOA is a "defensive move" to protect the enterprise/corporate/business desktop customer base. The Windows desktop user base is what they wish to protect for their growing cloud based sales etc. Sure in principle you can use any OS with MS365 etc, but..... WAAS is coming right down the pipeline with Sun Valley and this Windows "significant update"... more subscriptions and more revenue and this one will tie you in like the apple "lock in".... in my opinion.





              • Avatar

                angusmatheson

                I am hopeful that Microsoft killed Windows X so that they could devote more time to Windows on ARM. I really think that is going to be an important part of the future and right now Windows is missing it. Chrome can run on ARM, Fuchsia too, Mac OS, Linux, iPad OS. Every chip might not be ARM in the future, but I bet a being able to run it will be really important for some use cases.

  22. Avatar

    PhilipVasta

    Is there something particularly special that Apple is doing with the M1 that can't be replicated, at least to some degree, on the Qualcomm side? This isn't to take away from the good work Apple has done, but I hope this is more or less a case of Apple being the first to make an ARM chip that's truly designed for the desktop.

    • Avatar

      wright_is

      The big difference is that Apple is all-in on ARM on the desktop and had invested billions on making a chip powerful enlighten for laptops and low end desktops.


      Microsoft is still experimenting with ARM and Qualcomm isn't investing heavily in something that might not work out. Also the market is to small for them to think of investing that sort of money on a long shot.

      • Avatar

        Truffles

        I still don't understand the business case for Windows on ARM. Business won't use it because their full set of apps aren't there and the performance/power efficiency of existing x86 laptops is good enough for most corporate scenarios. Personal buyers won't buy because they'll miss out on gaming and the games that are ported will be processor constrained. In the end the maths just don't add up to justify the investment by MS, Qualcom (who died and made them king?) or app devs.


        MS has too many vested interests to make such grand plans - with the killer response to any proposal always being "Web Services are the future - OS and local apps are legacy".

        • Avatar

          lvthunder

          If you used an M1 Mac you would see the business case for it. I have a i7 Surface Book 3 and the M1 MacBook Air. My hobby is photography. I have an action that I run on almost every portrait. The Mac runs that action in half the time of the Surface Book. After 4 or 5 pictures though my Surface Book is so hot, I can't set it on my lap. I use it like a tablet because I do everything with the pen. So the M1 is faster, produces less heat, and uses less power. Who wouldn't want that for their laptop? If Qualcomm, Intel, or AMD made a chip like that and the software was as compatible as it is on the Apple side (I don't care if it's ARM or x64) every PC maker would be placing orders.

          • Avatar

            james.h.robinson

            Yeah, like enterprises will really enjoy lower upgradability and repairability, loss of discrete GPUs, plus possible backward-compatibility challenges just to have something with longer battery life.


            And OEMs really want to give up that Intel co-engineering and co-marketing money to sell something like a $1,000 Macbook Air? And they really want to give up the gaming and engineering markets along the way?


            I swear this site is becoming more of an Apple fan site every day. It's like going to iMore.

            • Avatar

              wright_is

              Apart from CAD users, I haven't worked anywhere that uses discrete GPUs for over a decade. They all use integrated Intel graphics.

              • Avatar

                james.h.robinson

                You're right about CAD users. Also, hard-core video editors and folks who use tools like Maya.

                • Avatar

                  wright_is

                  I worked with software developers (NUCs onto Linux terminal servers) and manufacturing (apart from those looking after the production design using AutoCAD or Eplan, everyone else just uses the ERP software and normal Office, so no need for discrete graphics cards, the internal graphics have been powerful enough to run 2 displays or a 4K display for a long time.

          • Avatar

            james.h.robinson

            So you're comparing a brand-new M1 Mac to a Surface Book 3 from over a year ago? And what about an AMD-based x86?

      • Avatar

        matsan

        experimenting and will kill it at the drop of a hat.

    • Avatar

      ikjadoon

      Qualcomm has everything it should need with NUVIA by late 2022 to be close to the M1: all that's left is engineering, focus, and money to follow through for the next five years. Nothing magical. Just hard & serious engineering.


      Of course, the NUVIA-Qualcomm SoCs will compete with the Apple M3 and Intel's Raptor Lake (Alder Lake successor) and AMD's Zen4. But matching M1 by late 2022 / early 2023 is still quite good for consumers: it's not like our computing needs are growing that fast that M1 will feel slow by then.


      It just might be slower than Intel / AMD laptops of the day, but far more efficient.

      • Avatar

        jimchamplin

        The problem is that if it takes Qualcomm until 2022 to match the M1, Apple will be on their third generation, and we know how wide Apple’s generational leaps are in silicon performance, and how pedestrian Qualcomm’s pace of improvement is if it’s not a market they’re interested in (anything but flagship Android phones).


        Is Qualcomm capable of making them? Yes. We’ll have to wait and see if they’re willing to put in the work. So far, they haven’t.

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