Priced at $65/£50 (or euro equivalent) the board is positioned as an affordable micro-computer that runs Linux and Android and 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. Tony King-Smith, EVP of marketing for Imagination, is keen to emphasise that the board is a powerful device that targets the prfessional market as much as the “maker” segment. It draws, he says, on Imagination’s large market share (in silicon IP) in the graphics/multimedia and networking sectors. The board’s connectivity options include fast Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0: there is dedicated hardware for 1080p decode. “This is a new way to access the MIPS and PowerVR architectures.”
Tony King-Smith also points to the low power usage of the C120 card as a key enabler; the SoC on the card, which is made by Ingenics in China, hosts dual 320bit MIPS cores and PowerVR SGX540 graphics with support for OpenGL 2.1 and OpenGL ES 2.0. King-Smith expects to attract attention from, “a lot of content [-oriented] people… familiar with the Power architecture. We want to bring the interactive nature of gaming [where Imagination also claims a large presence] to IoT applications.”
Originally introduced in August 2014 through a limited promotional giveaway for university students, developers, hobbyists and partners, Imagination was inundated with enquiries leading to today’s announcement that the Creator CI20 is available to pre-order for delivery at the end of January 2015. This will be the first in a family of boards with different capabilities. Asked if this will include pared-down versions for direct embedding in end-applications, King-Smith says there are no specific plans in that direction, but that the ultimate aim is to promote widespread use of the company’s IP, and Imagination will look at any opportunity which furthers that objective.
This build of the C120 includes 1GB DDR3 of on-board memory, 4GB flash memory and an SD card expansion slot. The ard comes pre-flashed with Debian 7, Other Linux distributions will be available, including Gentoo and Yocto, as well as a version of Debian 7 that complies with the principles of the Free Software Foundation. You can also re-flash the memory with Android v4.4 (KitKat).
Creator CI20 also includes Imagination’s FlowCloud support for IoT application development, a platform that enables users to construct solutions including security, personal and professional health monitoring, energy management, cloud-based systems for content delivery and much more.
Frome the prpl Foundation, president Art Swift says, “The prpl Foundation and our member companies welcome the highly capable Creator CI20 development board. Developers in the open source community will appreciate the high performance, advanced feature set, and affordable cost of this microcomputer.” Neil Henning, technology lead for Codeplay: “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. There is a real drive for more and more affordable devices like this that deliver power efficiency yet still pack a hefty punch.” Says Yingtao Hou, VP of Chukong Technology: “Imagination provides the industry-leading PowerVR graphics processors inside many iconic smartphones and tablets. We’ve worked with them extensively on performance optimisations for games built using the Cocos2d-x engine and have been very satisfied with the tools and utilities they provide for Android or Linux.”
Imagination will sell the Creator C120 direct from its own web outlet; https://store.imgtec.com/