An exciting new microcomputer for Linux and Android enthusiasts has arrived.

When we initially announced the MIPS Creator Ci20 development board, we were flooded by your exciting project proposals; the launch generated so much interest in our little programme that our site crashed under the intense pressure.

Creator_logo_purple_RGBIntroducing the new Creator programme

We’ve spent the last month parsing our database and selecting some of the most interesting ideas. We had a limited number of boards available in that initial promotion, so it was really hard to choose! Since then, Creator Ci20 single-board computers have been shipped to hundreds of companies, academic institutions and independent developers around the world who are already busy creating the next wave of applications for MIPS-based chipsets.

The thousands of encouraging messages you’ve sent gave us the impetus needed to accelerate our plans to make Creator Ci20 readily available for anyone wishing to turn their developer dreams into reality.

MIPS Creator CI20MIPS Creator Ci20 is a new microcomputer integrating a dual-core 1.2 GHz processor

Pre-order your MIPS Creator Ci20 microcomputer for $65/£50

Today, I’m extremely excited to announce we are ready to embark on a new adventure. For the first time in the history of computing, MIPS and PowerVR meet in an affordable Linux and Android development board that will be easily accessible to everyone. We will be selling the Creator Ci20 boards straight from our store (click the buttons below to pre-order one now). North America and Europe will be the first regions to get it in late January, followed by a gradual rollout to other territories.

[button link=”” color=”#702484″ window=”yes”]Buy Creator Ci20[/button]

$65/£50 gets you a fully connected, high performance microcomputing platform that can be used for a wide variety of applications. Here is a brief list of the key specifications:

  • Processor: 1.2 GHz dual-core, MIPS32-based Ingenic JZ4780 SoC, 32kB L1 I- and D-cache, 512kB L2 cache
  • FPU/SIMD: IEEE754 Floating Point Unit, XBurst MXU
  • Multimedia: PowerVR SGX540 GPU, hardware-accelerated video playback up to 1080p at 60 fps
  • Memory: 1 GB DDR3 SDRAM, 4 GB flash memory, 1 x SD card
  • Audio: AC97 audio, via 4-pin input/output jack and HDMI connector
  • Camera interface: ITU-R BT.645 controller
  • Connectivity: 10/100 Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Display: 1 x HDMI up to 2K resolution
  • USB: 1 x USB host, 1 x USB OTG device
  • I/O peripherals: 2 x UART, 25 x GPIO, 2 x SPI, I2C, ADC, expansion headers, 14-pin EJTAG connector

Giveaway alert!

To celebrate this launch we are going to pick three lucky winners and offer them a board for free when they start shipping in January.

All you have to do is follow any of the four Twitter accounts below in the next seven days – the more you follow, the more you increase your chances of winning; we will randomly pick three prizewinners using Rafflecopter and announce them later next week. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here is what the Creator community has achieved so far

Several developers have already been busy writing apps for Creator Ci20; the work they are doing is centered on optimizing the Linux user experience and bringing more Android applications to our MIPS architecture. This will ultimately benefit future Creator Ci20 owners since you’ll be able to access more content and use the board in more innovative, creative ways.

The excitement around development boards is similar to the early buzz around Linux. Linux development boards, including the one introduced today by our new member Imagination Technologies, are exciting for hobbyists and students with limited resources, as well as extremely promising for engineers and designers during development and beyond. – Mike Woster, COO and VP of business development, The Linux Foundation

Our engineering team has also been working tirelessly to get Android 4.4 KitKat working on the MIPS Creator Ci20 microcomputer, and I’m happy to report that we now have all the fully-compliant GPL code (including ART) you need to get up and running.

A lot of you have expressed a desire to build HTPC rigs that stream high-quality media, but felt limited by the reduced performance and limited connectivity available in other platforms. Since Creator Ci20 delivers up to 3x more CPU horsepower* than its direct competitor and includes a dedicated video decoder, you can easily port XBMC, Plex or similar media players.

I’m a Linux developer maintaining several packages for Debian, including XBMC. Since receiving the MIPS Creator Ci20 development board, I have been able to use it for prototyping and debugging an XBMC port that runs on the MIPS architecture. The interface is currently running smoothly on the PowerVR GPU and the patches needed have been sent to upstream. – Bálint Réczey

Additionally, there is no need to buy a separated comms module; the board already supports 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and an IR receiver so you can connect various remotes and controllers.

MIPS Creator CI20 - AndroidMIPS Creator Ci20 supports the latest version of the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system

For arcade-loving game enthusiasts, there are several Linux and Android games out there that can be ported to Creator Ci20. Since PowerVR SGX GPUs support OpenGL 2.1 and OpenGL ES 2.0, I can already see you fragging away in Quake or Doom, making your grand escape in Temple Run or launching Angry Birds in the air.

Limelight Game Streaming is a free and open-source project to bring NVIDIA’s GameStream technology to as many devices as possible. A MIPS-based device that can decode 1080p at 60 fps video is a very cool prospect and having the hardware in hand allows us to tune our use of Android’s MediaCodec framework to produce the lowest latency video. We also plan to port Limelight to Creator Ci20 under Debian which would provide a better option for users that want a small streaming device. – Cameron Gutman, Limelight Game Streaming

Pixel Hero Games has used the new Creator Ci20 board to port our highly acclaimed Spiral Episode 1 game to the MIPS architecture; this title features console-quality graphics and was initially developed for the Apple iPad 2 tablet. We have made significant progress and found that the MIPS-based dual-core CPU delivers very good performance. I’m also very happy to report we have managed to get Unreal Engine 3 running on the MIPS architecture and we are now testing other upcoming titles in our portfolio. – Aaron Ruiz Mora, technical director, Pixel Hero Games

Tencent is a world-class online game developer and manages the largest game community in China. We are extremely dedicated to the sustainable development of our game-related products, catering to every gaming platform – including microcomputers such as MIPS Creator Ci20. We are very excited to work with Imagination Technologies across all of our segment markets and optimize our titles for their industry-leading MIPS CPUs and PowerVR GPUs. – Steve Nie, GM of research and development, Tencent Games

Hundreds of users have written to us about IoT and home automation-type applications that fit Creator Ci20 perfectly. The inclusion of a popular camera interface, a low-power Ingenic JZ4780 SoC and fast on-board storage creates a perfect framework for designing real-time, always-on embedded vision systems that can be used in smart surveillance and security systems inside the home.

We are also offering you the chance to try out our FlowCloud platform for free on Creator Ci20; FlowCloud is a managed platform designed for consumer and industrial IoT and includes everything you need to design the next generation of apps for smart appliances, interactive multimedia streaming, remote device control, smart metering and more. You can find ample documentation, a guide on how to get started, free example apps and SDKs, and other resources here.

MIPS Creator CI20 - LinuxMIPS Creator Ci20 runs several Linux distributions, including Debian 7

Finally, MIPS Creator Ci20 is a perfect platform for OS bring-up and debugging. Here are some examples of operating systems that will be ported to the board:

Haiku is a free software operating system targeting desktop computers. It is inspired by the BeOS, with the goals of being simple and lightweight. MIPS Creator Ci20 is exactly the board we were waiting for, and getting our hands on it would allow for Haiku to finally support multiple architectures. – Adrien Destugues, Haiku OS developer

MIPS Creator Ci20 looks like an awesome board equipped with a fast processor! Our first project is to get ThreadX running on one of the dual-core MIPS CPUs, together with our other stacks (USBX, NetX and GUIX). We also plan to control a 3D printer and livestream video/photos of the printing in progress for remote viewing. – Scott Larson, senior software engineer, Express Logic

NetBSD is free and open source operating system, based on the old BSD kernel. It runs on a wide variety of MIPS-based hardware, from SGI workstations to various embedded boards and devices. We always try to keep up with new MIPS offers, so we are glad to now work on initial bring-up for the Creator Ci20 platform, especially since it is well documented and comes in a small but powerful package. – Martin Husemann, The NetBSD Foundation Inc.

The possibilities are really limitless.

Final words

From smartphones to digital radios, we have helped our ecosystem partners create new user experiences that weren’t possible before. This is what Imagination is known to do: discovering market discontinuities and creating disruptive technologies and products.

The Creator programme is part of how we continue to innovate and forge new ways for the maker community to explore. I can’t wait to see what you develop next!

Editor’s Note

* Results based on a variety of benchmarks, including CoreMark, Linpack, and 7zip

About the author Alex Voica

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Before deciding to pursue his dream of working in technology marketing, Alexandru held various engineering roles at leading semiconductor companies in Europe. His background also includes research in computer graphics and VR at the School of Advanced Studies Sant'Anna in Pisa. You can follow him on Twitter @alexvoica.

View all posts by Alex Voica