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MIPS Creator Ci40 Development Board Powered by cXT200 SoC Launched for $53 on Kickstarter

November 23rd, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

Last year, Imagination Technologies launched their first community development board with MIPS Creator CI20 powered by Ingenic JZ4780 dual core MIPS processor running both Android and Linux, and now supported by various projects. The company has been teasing about its MIPS Creatort Ci40 for a few weeks, and was already announced as the MIPS platform of choice for Google Brillo operating system, but the board has now officially been launched via a Kickstarter campaign where you can get the board for $53, as well as some add-on boards.

MIPS_Creator_CI40But instead of using a processor from one of their partner, Imagination just designed their own MIPS interAptiv SoC for the board.

Creator Ci40 board specifications:

  • SoC – Imagination Technologies Creator cXT200 with 2x MIPS interAptiv core @ 550MHz, 512KB L2 cache, and an Ensigma C4500 RPU (for 802.11ac/ BT 4.1 LE)
  • System Memory – 256 MB DDR3
  • Storage – 512 MB NAND flash, micro SD card slot
  • Connectivity – Ethernet, 802.11ac 2×2 WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, 802.15.4 radio for 6LoWPAN
  • USB – 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Audio – 1 x 3.5mm input/output jack, 1 x S/PDIF input/output connector
  • Expansion Headers:
    • 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible header
    • 2x mikroBus headers
    • Other undocumented headers
    • I/Os include: 32x GPIO, 4x PWM, 1x SPI, 2x UART, 2x I2C, and 5x ADC.
  • Debugging – JTAG/EJTAG, 1x micro USB port for serial console (TBC)
  • Security – TPM chip
  • Misc – 9x indicator LEDs
  • Power Supply – 9V via power barrel, or 5V via micro USB port
  • Dimensions – 100 mm x 106 mm
cXT200 Block Diagram

cXT200 Block Diagram

The board will support Linux (buildroot), Brillo OS, Debian, and OpenWRT. Optimized GNU tools and library will also be provided for the MIPS platform, and the board will have access to the cloud via the company’s FlowCloud IoT framework. Some code sample for the latter  have already been provided on github.

Creator Ci40 Open Source Software Stack (Click to Enlarge)

Creator Ci40 Open Source Software Stack (Click to Enlarge)

In Internet of Things projects you also need “things”, and not only a gateway, so the company is also offering Creator Ci40 IoT kit with Ci40 board, as well as two MikroElektronika’s 6LoWPAN Clicker boards  powered by 2 AAA batteries acting as nodes (i.e. things), and three Click boards fitting in mikroBus sockets.

Credtor Ci40 IoT Kit (Click to Enlarge)

Credtor Ci40 IoT Kit (Click to Enlarge)

The Clicker boards are powered by a MIPS based Pic32MX micro-controller, and run Contiki real-time operating system. As reported in my post about HummingBoard Gate board, there are over 150 Click (add-on) boards to both Ci40 and clickers board functionality can be augmented by any of these standard add-on boards by MikroElectronika.

While Creator Ci40 board itself is 35 GBP (~$53), you could consider getting the IoT kit instead for 70 GBP ($106). Shipping is not included, and they charge a flat fee to any destination ranging from 5 GBP for th board only to 12 GBP for the various kits. Delivery is scheduled for April 2016. You can also find more details on Imagination’s Creator Ci40 product page.

  1. Paul
    November 23rd, 2015 at 20:40 | #1

    > System Memory – 256 MB

    Kudos to them for not making yet another boring video-player-for-kiddies board. Hope people will use it to develop nice-running software, not to run existing ugly bloatware like xbmc or how it’s called now. But $53?

  2. Sander
    November 23rd, 2015 at 21:04 | #2

    Why/when would someone prefer this solution above a Raspi solution (for 35 USD)? The built-in wifi?

  3. Gabe
    November 23rd, 2015 at 23:13 | #3

    Why do they gather money through Kickstarter? Doesn’t Imagination Technologies have enough to develop this board?

  4. TLS
    November 23rd, 2015 at 23:42 | #4

    9V input… bad call…

  5. TLS
    November 23rd, 2015 at 23:43 | #5

    It’s not about making money, it’s all about exposure and Kickstarter is a good way to that and it’s also an easy way to collect the money from random people en masse.

  6. November 23rd, 2015 at 23:54 | #6

    You can also power the board via micro USB.

  7. November 23rd, 2015 at 23:58 | #7

    The board has built-in 6LoWPAN, faster Wi-Fi and Ethernet, Bluetooth, on-board memory etc. in addition to the expansion boards (Clickers) and the companion boards (Clicks)

    But it’s not only about the hardware, we’ve built a complete software framework based on open standards that allows you to connect devices to the cloud.

  8. Jon Smirl
    November 24th, 2015 at 02:25 | #8

    How does pricing on the Ensigma C4500 RP compare to something like the Ampak AP6335? Maybe you should make modules with the same footprint? AP6335 is $7.50 or less if you buy a lot of them.

  9. Jon Smirl
    November 24th, 2015 at 02:43 | #9

    @Jon Smirl
    Maybe I am confused, is the Ensigma C4500 RP on the cXT200 chip? Then what is the other chip in the RF section below the main SOC? Schematics would help to understand.

  10. olin
    November 24th, 2015 at 02:45 | #10

    Does it allow to use all 32 gpio pins at once using single read/write operation? So far many hobbyist boards allow max 16 gpios to be used at the same time, the rest is either pinmuxed with other essential peripherals or require extra read/write operation, which is kind of limiting.

  11. Marius Cirsta
    November 24th, 2015 at 06:35 | #11

    @Alexandru Voica
    Alexandru for the first time I’m happy with an Imagination product and have nothing bad to say about it. This is open source and completely hackabel so I’m happy and I ordered one.
    Only thing I’m not sure about it what to do with all that processing power… for some of the simpler home automation even 32bit microcontroller is fine …. I’ll have to think about it ….

  12. TLS
    November 24th, 2015 at 07:34 | #12

    What strikes me as odd, as it’s not mentioned anywhere in the spec, is the second Samsung chip, which seems to be a KLM4G1FEAC-B031 which is 4GB of eMMC. Was this removed last minute to save cost?

  13. TLS
    November 24th, 2015 at 07:38 | #13

    Looks like the 802.15.4 radios are http://www.ti.com/product/cc2520

  14. Jon Smirl
    November 24th, 2015 at 09:26 | #14

    If you want to play, these sensor tags are $29.
    The radio can do BLE or 802.15.4 depending on firmware loaded.

    10 sensors including support for light, digital microphone, magnetic sensor, humidity, pressure, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, object temperature, and ambient temperature

  15. November 24th, 2015 at 17:46 | #15

    @Jon Smirl
    Ensigma is a baseband connectivity engine (a DSP) integrated inside the SoC, it is not a separate module. Only the RF part (i.e. the antenna) is external. The schematics will be available soon.

  16. November 24th, 2015 at 17:47 | #16

    @Marius Cirsta
    Once you connect hundreds of sensors and relays, having all that processing power (and the multithreading capability) starts to make sense. IoT is a major reason why a lot of the MCUs are going 32-bit.

  17. November 24th, 2015 at 17:48 | #17

    The eMMC chip has been added for the Brillo configuration. That version of Creator has been selected as a starter board for early developer engagement.

  18. Jon Smirl
    November 25th, 2015 at 00:45 | #18

    What is the estimated price for the cXT200 by the reel?

  19. deets
    November 25th, 2015 at 04:47 | #19

    @Jon Smirl

    I am skeptical that they will become an SoC end product provider. Really they just want one (or more) of their licensees to step up and adopt/brand/distribute/support this.

  20. December 8th, 2015 at 21:07 | #20

    Creator Ci40 is now fully funded. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/imgtec/creator-ci40-the-ultimate-iot-in-a-box-dev-kit/posts/1437062

    Stretch goals include more complex code samples, a free case, and OTA firmware updates.

  21. April 23rd, 2016 at 09:38 | #21

    The board and kit are now available on Mouser -> http://www.mouser.co.uk/imagination-technologies/

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