Imagination’s Linux/Android “Creator CI20” hacker SBC, featuring a dual MIPS core Ingenic JZ4780 SoC, 4GB flash, WiFi, and BT 4.0, is now selling for $65.
Imagination Technologies unveiled its MIPS Creator CI20 single board computer in August without pricing or availability information. The community-backed, MIPS-based hacker board was supplied free of charge to several hundred university students, developers, hobbyists, and partners who petitioned the MIPS ISA developer with the most compelling project ideas. Now, after strong demand, Imagination has announced $65 (50 UK Pounds) public pricing for the board, which ships in late January.
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The MIPS Creator CI20 SBC “enables open source developers, the maker community, system integrators and others to create a wide range of applications and projects, ranging from home automation and gaming to wireless multimedia streaming,” says Imagination. The board ships with Android 4.4 or version 7 of Debian Linux, which Imagination says “complies with the principles of the Free Software Foundation.” Gentoo and Yocto Linux builds are on the way.
The SBC appears to be almost identical to the original except that it has half the flash memory at 4GB. The less detailed specs announced with the new version also add mention of an IR receiver. There’s no longer any reference to a “Transport Stream Interface,” but Imagination does list the availability of “expansion headers,” which appear to be the same thing. As before, there was no mention of Arduino compatibility.
No dimension details were supplied in this latest announcement, but the SBC seems to be the same 90.2 x 95.3mm, 5VDC design. Once again, power consumption was unlisted. The ELinux.org product page for the board matches the original version’s specs, complete with the 8GB flash.
The Creator CI20 is built around an Ingenic JZ4780 system-on-chip, which integrates a pair of MIPS32 cores clocked at 1.2GHz. The SoC also integrates Imagination’s own PowerVR SGX540 GPU, which supports OpenGL 2.1 and OpenGL ES 2.0. The SGX540, which is commonly used in mobile devices, is less popular on ARM hacker boards, due largely to the opinion that the GPU is less transparent — and therefore less accessible to developers — than some others like the ARM Mali 400.
Ingenic JZ4780 SoC block diagram
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The MIPS Creator CI20 ships with 1GB of DDR3 DRAM, 4GB NAND flash, and an SD slot. As before, the SBC communicates externally with a 10/100 Ethernet port, as well as both WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. An HDMI port supports video at up to 2K at 60fps.
Additional features include USB OTG and host ports, a CMOS camera input, and an audio in/out jack. You also get multiple analog inputs and digital I/Os, and a pair of serial UARTs. Other I/O includes a 14-pin MIPS JTAG header.
Creator CI20 with Debian 7 (left) and Android 4.4 applications
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The Creator CI20 can run Imagination’s FlowCloud cloud platform for Internet of Things (IoT) device management. FlowCloud enables applications including security, personal and professional health monitoring, energy management, cloud-based systems for content delivery, and more, says Imagination.
Imagination has also posted a number of testimonials from developers. These describe ports of Kodi/XBMC, Limelight Game Streaming, Tencent games, and Pixel Hero Games’ Spiral Episode 1 game, as well as the Unreal Engine 3 gaming technology.
“The Creator CI20 is a fast development board for a really good price that combines two technologies we are very excited about: a dual-core MIPS CPU and a PowerVR GPU,” stated Neil Henning, technology lead for Codeplay.
Summary of MIPS Creator C120 specs
MIPS Creator CI20 specifications provided by Imagination include:
- Processor — Ingenic JZ4780 system-on-chip
- CPU — 2x 1.2GHz XBurst MIPS32 cores
- GPU – PowerVR SGX540
- FPU — IEEE754
- Hardware video decoders — MPEG-2, VC-1, VP8, MPEG-4, H.264 (1080p at 30fps), RV9 (1080p at 60fps)
- 1GB (32-bit DDR3) RAM
- 4GB NAND
- SD slot plus second SD interface via expansion connector
- 10/100 Ethernet port
- WiFi 802.11b/g/n
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Other I/O:
- HDMI port (up to 2k resolution)
- 2x USB ports (OTG and host)
- 25x GPIOs
- CMOS camera input (ITU.R BT.645 connector)
- 2x SPI
- 1x I2C
- 7x analog input channels
- 2x UART
- AC97 audio (via 4-pin I/O jack and HDMI connector)
- JTAG (14-pin MIPS ETAG header)
- Expansion headers
- Power — 5VDC
- Dimensions — 90.2 x 95.3mm
- Operating system:
- Android 4.4
- Debian 7 Linux
- Gentoo and Yocto Linux on the way
- Ports of BeOS, ThreadX, and NetBSD in progress
- Supports optional FlowCloud cloud IoT management platform
Creator CI20 vs. Raspberry Pi vs. BeagleBone Black
(click image to enlarge; source: Imagination Technologies)
Last month, Ingenic and Imagination announced an updated Newton2 computer-on-module for wearables that runs Linux and Android on a lower-power, single-core MIPS-based Ingenic M200 SoC. The 30 x 15 x 2.4mm module runs at only 150mW.
The MIPS Creator CI20 is available for pre-order in North America and Europe, with other markets to follow, at $65 (£50 in Europe). Shipments are expected in late Jan. 2015. Imagination Technologies is also giving away three free boards to those who closely follow the company’s Twitter feeds.
More information may be found at the Imagination blog announcement, which offers further details on the competition, as well as some early Creator CI20 projects. Pre-orders may be filed at the Imagination Store. Full specs on the almost identical, original developer version may be found on this ELinux.org page. Several interesting comments from LinuxGizmos readers can be found on our initial Creator C120 coverage.