The Raspberry Pi Foundation showed that there’s a market for low-cost, low-power computers aimed at developers and tinkerers when it began offering tiny ARM-based computers for $35 or less.

Two years later, the folks at Imagination Technologies have decided it’s time to offer a similar device, but this time with a MIPS-based processor.

The MIPS Creator CI20 is a small developer board that sells for $65 and which should begin shipping in late January.


Imagination’s little computer costs a bit more than a Raspberry Pi, but this little guy is also more powerful. It has a 1.2 GHz Ingenic JZ4780 MIPS32-based dual-core processor with PowerVR SG540 graphics, support for hardware-accelerated 1080p video decoding, and OpenGL ES 2.0 and OpenGL 2.1.

The system has 1GB of RAM, 4GB of flash storage, and an SD card slot for additional storage. It also has HDMI output, a USB host port and USB OTG port, a 10/100 Ethernet jack, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0 as well as developer-friendly GPIO, UART, and other connectors.

The MIPS Creator CI20 comes with Debian 7 Linux pre-installed, but it also supports Android 4.4, Yocto Linux, and Gentoo, among other operating systems.

In other words, it’s a Linux and Android-friendly device that has twice the RAM of a Raspberry Pi, comes with built-in storage and a pre-loaded operating system, and features wireless capabilities. So it’s not surprising that it costs nearly twice as much as a Raspberry Pi.

While that might make it a little less attractive for some projects, a $65 computer that can run desktop Linux operating systems is still pretty cool.

Imagination is positioning the device as a development platform rather than a desktop PC though. It supports the company’s FlowCloud Internet-of-Things development platform.

The company first unveiled the MIPS Creator CI20 in August, but at the time the company wasn’t selling the device to the public yet. Instead it was giving away a limited quantity. Now it’s available for purchase in the US and Europe.

Developers have already used the dev board to port XBMC, games, and other applications to support MIPS architecture.

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7 replies on “MIPS Creator CI20 dev board is Imagination’s answer to the Raspberry Pi”

  1. Not really correct to say it can run ‘desktop linux’ since it can’t run most modern desktop environments without a full OpenGL implementation. Even the OpenGL ES it claims is going to be a blob with many limitations. Plus 1GB of ram will put another severe limit to desktop use. Yes that is pitiful, that 1GB of memory is now so small you can’t run a basic desktop well, but that is reality.

  2. I like the idea of this board. Price is a little high. It should be closer to $50 if they are targeting the same market as the pi.

  3. I think to say that XBMC has been ported is a bit of a stretch seeing as the only thing working is the GUI. Video decoding doesn’t work which is pretty much the definition of a showstopper for a media player.

  4. Does this do HEVC / H.265 decoding in hardware? That would be the only thing that would tempt me to switch from my Pi.

  5. My history with MIPS makes me want to stay away from this product. While the incompatibilities of the past may have been resolved, I am still a bit doubtful about any MIPS based device.

    1. I doubt MIPs is the problem, it’s imagination. It’s the powervr gpu, the other ip blocks and the really bad reputation imagination has repeatedly gone out of their way to earn

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