Violet, you're turning violet! Imagination unveils graphics-tastic hobbyist board

You'll need to bring the ideas, though

1.2 GHz dual-core, MIPS32-based Ingenic JZ4780 SoC, 32kB L1 I- and D-cache, 512kB L2 cache

Imagination Technologies, the MIPS chipper firm behind PowerVR, has a new hobbyist board. For fifty quid you can do some techie tinkering.

If you've called your company "Imagination", there is an irony in making some hardware where the declared aim is to have developers do the imagining, but that's by the by.

The idea is to build a community similar to that surrounding Arduino, Beagle or Raspberry Pi, which will create applications and devices which then use MIPS processors. Imagination points out that a billion MIPS cores ship a year, and while people tend to think of the world being divided into ARM or Intel, they are around too. The Ci20 is the first of a number of products which will be sold under the "Creator" brand.

The Ci20 has an emphasis on video. There is a four-pipe PowerVR SGX540 graphics offering full support for OpenGL 2.1 and OpenGL ES 2.0 and dedicated video hardware for low power 1080p decoding at 30 fps and resolutions up to 2K.

Behind this there is a 1.2 GHz dual-core, MIPS32-based Ingenic JZ4780 SoC, 32kB L1 I- and D-cache, 512kB L2 cache processor and fast Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. It's packed with 1GB DDR3 memory, 4GB flash and an SD card expansion slot, and, as you might expect, loads of ports: 2 x UART, 25 x GPIO, 2 x SPI, I2C, ADC, expansion headers and a 14-pin ETAG connector, so you could interface it to a Raspberry Pi.

1.2 GHz dual-core, MIPS32-based Ingenic JZ4780 SoC, 32kB L1 I- and D-cache, 512kB L2 cache

Make your own media player

MIPS Creator Ci20 comes pre-installed with Debian 7. Other Linux distributions will be available, including Gentoo and Yocto. Users can also install the latest version of Android v4.4. Imagination is in the process of porting Lollipop.

Tony King-Smith, EVP of marketing for Imagination, said: “We are very excited to be taking part in the growing interest within the open source and maker communities for affordable, fully featured development platforms. Creator CI20 has been designed for people who want high performance and advanced features for their development projects and to create access at the software and hardware level to allow creativity to come to the fore.”

The project grew out of work with universities where 1,000 devices were given away as part of a government-backed STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiative but saw such strong demand that it was decided to produce the gadget – the Ci20 is planned to be the first of a suite of devices. Imagination says that the board is made to a high standard, the CPU has been fabbed by Igenic and the PCB put together by Imagination’s Pure consumer brand, famed for its DAB radios.

The Ci20 will cost $65 (US)/£50 (Europe), and is available for pre-order now from for North America and Europe, with more countries to be added shortly.

Units will be dispatched at the end of January 2015. ®

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