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Imagination Technologies launches MIPS Creator CI20 to rival Raspberry Pi – and you can get one for free

170% faster CPU than a Raspberry Pi suggests Imagination Technologies' MIPS Creator CI20 has potential for programmers

Imagination Technologies, one of the biggest chip makers in the UK and creator of the PowerVR graphics chips found in iPads, Android smartphones and other tablets, has revealed the MIPS Creator CI20 – hobbyist hardware that could rival the phenomenally succesful Raspberry Pi in terms of performance and expandability. Better yet, the company is going the first few models away to eager programmers in an effort to improve the design for later customers.

After purchasing MIPS a year ago in order to better compete with UK rival ARM, Imagination is now hoping to take the technology into the mainstream. The MIPS Creator CI20, which was announced on the Imagination Technologies blog earlier today, is a barebones development board that uses a MIPS-based processor and includes PowerVR graphics – giving it a serious performance boost compared to the lowly 700MHz chip found in the Raspberry Pi. 

As the hardware has already been used in many Android devices, games, apps and the operating system itself have all been optimised to run smoothly – potentially making it the ideal way to build your own Android micro-console.

Described as a “Raspberry Pi on steroids”, the MIPS Creator CI20 will ship with 1GB of RAM, 8GB of on-board memory and a full-size SD card slot, Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11n Wi-Fi as well as two USB ports, HDMI and an Ethernet connection. That’s all from a board that measures 90.2×95.3mm, and is capable of playing 1080p, 60fps video from a range of different operating systems including Debian Linux and Android 4.4. Hardware hackers will appreciate 25 GPIO pins, 2 SPI buses, I2C, IrDA and JTAG support too.

If you’ve got an idea for a project, you can apply to be one of the first people to get their hands on a board by applying directly to Imagination Technologies. The company will be picking the best applicants and shipping out free boards, in exchange for feedback that will go towards improving the design in the future.

It’s not clear when the final boards will be going on sale, or how much they will cost, so if you’ve got an idea of what you’d like to try with one make sure to move quickly and apply for a free development board.

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