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Tiny MIPS COM aims Linux and Android at wearables

Nov 12, 2014 — by Eric Brown — 3,840 views

[Updated Nov 13] — Ingenic’s tiny “Newton2” wearables module is smaller and more power efficient than the original, and runs Linux or Android on a MIPS-based Ingenic M200 SoC.

The Ingenic Newton2 provides a “complete development platform for wearable and Internet of Things,” according to Imagination Technologies, which announced the product to highlight the MIPS foundation of the computer-on-module’s new Ingenic M200 processor. Compared to the original Newton announced earlier this year, however, the Newton2 is focused even more directly on wearables than larger IoT gizmos.

Newton2 front (left) and back
(click images to enlarge)

The Ingenic Newton2 has shrunk from 38 x 22 x 3mm to 30 x 15 x 2.4mm — roughly half the size of the original Newton module — which is pretty remarkable. The Newton2 also reduces power consumption from 260mW to 150mW, according to Imagination. Meanwhile, standby power is also said to have been cut in half, from 4mW to 2mW with no radios activated, or from 6mW to 3mW in a more typical standby state.

Newton2, Newton, and Edison modules, shown to scale
(click images to enlarge)

By comparison, Intel’s Atom E3800 based Edison module, which is similarly aimed at IoT and wearables, measures 35.5 x 25 x 3.9mm. The Edison has standby power consumption ranging from 13mW to 35mW.

The wearables focus of the Newton2 is backed up by Imagination’s list of target applications:

  • Infotainment — smartwatches, augmented reality headsets, smart glasses, smart cameras
  • Healthcare — wearable healthcare monitors
  • Fitness and wellness — fitness bands, activity trackers, smart clothing, sleep sensors

The Ingenic Newton2 runs on a new Ingenic XBurst system-on-chip called the Ingenic M200 (see farther below). As before, the module supports Linux (3.10) and Android (4.4). For the first time, Ingenic is claiming the module to be fully open source in both hardware and software.

Inside the Newton2

The Newton2 module ships with 4Gb LPDDR2 and 4GB eMCP eMMC flash memory. As before, the module integrates 802.11 a/b/g/n, but it drops from dual-channel WiFi to a 2.4GHz only. The same Broadcom module also integrates Bluetooth 4.1 with BLE support. Missing, however, are the Newton’s FM and NFC features.

Newton2 front (left) and back details
(click images to enlarge)

The updated device adds an interface that supports GPS, as well as other sensors, but sacrifices its onboard ECG, pressure, humidity, or temperature sensors. Apparently, this is something that device manufacturers prefer to add themselves. As before, there’s a 9-axis MEMs sensor.

For display, a MIPI-DSI interface supports a 320 x 320 1.63-inch AMOLED module, which happens to match the Android Wear spec for smartwatches. Capacitive touchscreen support is also said to be available, along with a 16-pin camera interface.

As before there is a micro-USB port, which can be used for 5V power. A battery interface and power management IC are also available. Additional features include UART debug and button connectors. There’s no mention of the previous “motor support.”

Summary of Newton2 specs

Specifications listed for the Newton2 include:

  • Processor — Ingenic M200 (2x MIPS/Xburst cores):
    • 1x core @ up to 1.2GHz
    • 1x core @ up to 300MHz
    • 512KB L2 cache
    • 3D GPU with OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1 and OpenVG 1.1
    • VPU with H.264 [email protected] encoding and decoding
    • ISP for image pre-processing
  • Memory — 4Gb LPDDR2; 4GB eMCP eMMC flash
  • Display/camera:
    • MIPI-DSI (24-pin) supporting 320 x 320 1.63-inch AMOLED module
    • Capacitive touchscreen support
    • Camera (16-pin) interface supporting MIPI-CSI and I2C
  • Wireless:
    • 802.11 a/b/g/n — 2.4GHz single-band (Broadcom 43438)
    • Bluetooth 4.1 and 2.1 EDR (BLE compliant) via Broadcom 43438
    • Wi-Fi and 2.4GHz BT antenna
  • Sensors:
    • 9-axis InvenSense MPU-9250:
      • 3-axis gyroscope
      • 3-axis accelerometer
      • 3-axis magnetometer
    • GPS/sensor 18-pin connector — UART, I2C, GPIO
    • Other I/O:
      • Micro-USB 2.0 device
      • Audio (14-pin) with DMIC and AOHPL/R
      • UART (serial debug)
      • Button interface (14-pin) with POWER, BOOT_KEY, BOOT_SEL1
    • Power — Micro-USB 5.0V; 3.7 to 4.2V Li-Ion battery, with PMU and charger; Ricoh RC5T619 PMIC
    • Power consumption — 150mW (operating); 2mW (standby)
  • Dimensions — 30 x 15 x 2.4mm
  • Operating system — Linux 3.10; Android 4.4 (KitKat)

Ingenic M200 SoC

Whereas the Newton ran on a 1GHz, single-core Ingenic JZ4770 XBurst SoC, the Ingenic M200 features a 1.2GHz core and a secondary 300MHz low-power MIPS processor that behaves more like a microcontroller. These hybrid processor schemes are increasingly showing up in IoT designs. Freescale’s Vybrid, for example, combines an ARM Cortex-A5 core running Linux with a Cortex-M4 MCU core running Freescale’s MQX RTOS. The Edison module combines an Atom CPU with a 100MHz Quark chip.

Ingenic M200 SoC block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The 7.7 x 8.9 x 0.76 mm Ingenic M200 SoC, which is “built from the ground-up for wearable devices,” consumes only 150mW in full operating mode, according to Imagination. All of the key modules inside the SoC have been redesigned to target ultra-low power operation, says the company. The M200 is said to include “special fabric” that creates multiple low power modes of operation and distinct power islands that can also be switched on by special programmable triggers, such as voice activation.

A new 3D graphics engine supports OpenGL ES 2.0, and there’s also a video accelerator for low power decoding and encoding of popular codecs like H.264 and VP8 at up to 720p at 30 fps, says Imagination. An image processor supports Wide Dynamic Range (EDR) dual-stream processing, video and still-image stabilization, image cropping and rescaling, and other camera controls like autofocus, auto-exposure, and color correction.

Imagination does not detail the exact MIPS architecture used by the M2000. However, it appears to be based on the MIPS M51xx series of processors, which in turn is part of its MicroAptiv-based Warrior-M family.

Geak Watch II features Ingenics chip, 7-day life

Imagination Technologies notes that a Geak Watch II — Shanda’s follow-up to its original Geak Watch — runs a custom Android build on a new Ingenics processor designed for wearables, but does not claim it’s the M200. Shanda’s Geak Watch II crowdfunding page on does not list the processor.

Geak Watch II

The luxury watch has a round-faced, 1.36 inch (320 x 320-pixel) screen, and is notable for its claimed battery life of up to seven days, which goes far beyond other smartwatch claims. Typical use is said to be a still impressive 3-4 days.

The Geak Watch 2 comes in two models. The baseline model “delivers up 15 days of battery life (standby) and up to six days of typical use,” says Imagination Technologies spokesperson Alexandru Voica. A second, “Pro” version of the watch offers “up to seven days of normal use and 18 days in standby,” adds Voica.

Both Geak Watch 2 models integrate Imagination’s Ingenic M200 SoC. The device will is available to crowdfunding backers starting at $360, and will ship in January. The new watch’s crowdfunding campaign’s video appears below.

Geak Watch II on YouTube

Further information

No pricing or availability information was listed for the Newton2. More information may be found at Ingenic’s Newton2 product page, and at the Imagination Technologies Newton2 announcement. More on the Ingenic M200 SoC may be found at Ingenic’s M200 product page.

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0 responses to “Tiny MIPS COM aims Linux and Android at wearables”

  1. St says:

    How much does the Newton and Newton2 cost? is it available in unit quantities in the US?

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