Today, Imagination is announcing the launch of a MIPS development board called the MIPS Creator CI20, with support for Linux (running Debian 7 currently, but other distro images are supported) and Android 4.4 KitKat (coming soon).
According to Imagination, this MIPS developer board is merely the first step in the company’s campaign to get more people to build cool stuff on top of the MIPS CPU architecture. The dev board is targeting open source communities, schools, hobbyists or anyone who might want to try out the MIPS platform. It’s basically a direct competitor to the likes of the ARM-based Raspberry Pi and Texas Instruments’ BeagleBone development boards.
The Ingenic MIPS-based Xburst CPU being used isn’t a particularly high-end one, and it should have around the same performance as an ARM-based dual-core Cortex A5 CPU (such as the Snapdragon 200), but even so, it should still be faster than the single-core Cortex A8 BeagleBone board, and at least twice as fast as Raspberry Pi. Since Imagination is targeting open source hobbyist projects and school projects, it doesn’t need to be offer substantially higher performance than that.
Even better, developers can just register their request with Imagination and describe the project they are working on, and the company will pick the most interesting 1,000 projects, which will be awarded the Creator CI20 development board for free. If the demand is high, Imagination will consider selling the board at an affordable price to everyone else who might want one, too.
It seems the Linux community has been asking Imagination for a MIPS development board with all the bells and whistles for a long time, so the board will also come with hardware features such as a PowerVR SGX540 GPU, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of flash storage, hardware video decoder (1080p@60fps), ITU-R BT.645 connector for CMOS cameras, Ethernet port, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and support for other low-level peripherals.
If you’re interested in getting one of these Creator Ci20 MIPS development boards, you can register for one on Imagination’s store and submit your project for evaluation. If Imagination likes the project, it will send one out for free.