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Spiritually similar to the question here Embedded modem options

Why is there such an enormous barrier to getting into something like a Snapdragon 410 with onboard LTE? After extensive research, LTE-equipped SoCs are everywhere, yet not available insofar as development kits, research material and so on.

It's always "contact sales" or just a marketing brochure webpage along with literally 1 million phones that the SoC is tucked away in. If I actually want to do development with an LTE SoC (and I do) how do I even get started?

I love my STM chips and the SIMCOMs are fun but it feels like diddling around in 2008 using that stuff.

9

I expect the situation will change as the demand for NB-IoT picks up, but there are several factors conspiring against your ideal.

  1. Only modules are viable unless you have access to ~$1e6 in test equipment and the skills to use this. As soon as you need to put RF on the PCB, it's hard. Long-range RF is harder.
  2. In order to protect other users, the testing regime is hard (FCC/type-approval).
  3. Companies are still presumably making good money in licensing software stacks for the newer protocols.
  4. Although there is demand for products, it's easier for the SoC designer to spend sales and support costs on a few tier-1 opportunities, rather than many more tier-3 potentials. For small volumes, it's potentially a commodity market which is not appealing (so long as the tipping point can be postponed).

Effectively these are similar answers to why is it hard to purchase some high-end SoC in even medium volumes. The vendor would prefer to deal with just one customer who maybe makes a Subsystem-on-Module, which is a good enough compromise approach to cover enough potential applications.

7

There are many Android Modules based on LTE SOC like Qualcomm MSM8909 and Mediatek MT6735 MT6755 etc.

NewMobi has a range of modules.

  • @JinLiu, you are referring to LTE modules here, whereas the question is regarding development boards. – sob Jun 29 '17 at 14:23
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    @sob - in the case of a module with an onboard application SoC, that's a relatively minor distinction, and perhaps a need for a breakout board. A user who finds that a stumbling block is probably not ready to face the real challenges involved in using any of these. – Chris Stratton Jun 29 '17 at 15:21
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    @sob, they have development board for sell using their modules, and provide the Android system BSP, it's cost-effective compare to use the arm + data modem. tks. – Jin.Liu Jun 30 '17 at 3:12
  • It's only "cost effective" if you can figure out how to use it. Many SoC's have extremely poor documentation, drivers may be tied to old kernel versions (and in some cases, impossible to obtain a valid license to distribute), etc. – Chris Stratton Jun 30 '17 at 18:20

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