Imagination has sent along word that the Creator CI20 we covered in some detail late last year is now shipping to North America and Europe. For those unfamiliar with this development board, I have reproduced the specification table below and included the Raspberry Pi 2 for comparison. Along with the shipping announcement, Imagination has bumped the on board storage from 4GB of NAND up to 8GB. I updated our original coverage with this welcome unexpected improvement. They have also revised the PCB to be purple, matching Imagination's color scheme.

  Imagination Creator CI20 Raspberry Pi 2 Model B Raspberry Pi Model B+
SoC Ingenic JZ4780 Broadcom BCM2836 Broadcom BCM2835
CPU Dual 1.2GHz XBurst
(MIPS32 instruction set)
4x 900 MHz ARM Cortex-A7
(ARMv7 instruction set)
700 MHz ARM1176JZF-S
(ARM11 family, ARMv6 instruction set)
GPU PowerVR SGX 540 @ Unknown MHz Broadcom VideoCore IV @ 250 MHz Broadcom VideoCore IV @ 250 MHz
Memory 1GB DDR3 1GB DDR2 512MB DDR2
USB 1x USB OTG (A and Mini connectors)
1x USB Host
4x USB 2.0 Host 4 USB 2.0 Host
Camera Interface 24-pin connector (ITU-R BT.645) 15-pin MIPI (CSI) connector 15-pin MIPI (CSI) connector
Video Output HDMI 1.4a HDMI 1.3a
Composite video 3.5mm jack
HDMI 1.3a
Composite video 3.5mm jack
Audio In 3.5mm jack shared with output via I²S interface via I²S interface
Audio Output HDMI
3.5mm jack shared with input
HDMI
3.5mm jack
I²S interface
HDMI
3.5mm jack
I²S interface
Storage 8GB NAND
1x full SD slot
1x SD slot via expansion header
via MicroSD via MicroSD
Network 10/100 Ethernet
2.4GHz WiFi b/g/n + BT 4.0 (BCM4330)
10/100 Ethernet 10/100 Ethernet
IR Input (IRM-2638A) - -
Max Power Consumption 4 Watts < 5 Watts 3 Watts
Power Connector 5V barrel connector MicroUSB MicroUSB
Size Approx. 90mm x 95mm (3.54 in x 3.74 in) 85.60 mm × 56.5 mm (3.37 in × 2.22 in) 85.60 mm × 56.5 mm
(3.37 in × 2.22 in)
Price $65 or £50 $35 without MPEG2 and VC1 codecs
$40.60 with MPEG2 and VC1 codecs
$35 without MPEG2 and VC1 codecs
$40.60 with MPEG2 and VC1 codecs

The evaluation board provided to me by Imagination is green with 4GB of NAND and I should consider it a collectors' item now. I am working to get some power measurements directly on the VDDCORE line to characterize CPU performance/watt but that requires some delicate PCB modification. Stay tuned.

Also, for the media center users, great news came three days ago with MIPS32 support merged into the master branch of Kodi (XBMC). Therefore, users willing to compile binaries themselves can now run Kodi on the Creator CI20 or any other MIPS32 device. For those willing to wait, the next major release of Kodi should include this support in their provided binaries.

Source: Imagination

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  • ddriver - Tuesday, February 03, 2015 - link

    A little too little... Hardly a bargain at that price, plus PCB "form factor" is just plain out terrible. Reply
  • Samus - Tuesday, February 03, 2015 - link

    You're right. Upon closer inspection the PCB layout is really bad. It comes down to simple things like if they used a higher density DRAM module (or used both sides of the PCB) the JTAG\arduino connector could have been moved up to make the PCB a rectangle.

    It's a really strange design. Using a "proprietary" barrel-sized connector for a 5V input is also beyond ridiculous in 2015 when USB has been able to do this for almost two decades.

    One of the things I respect most about the RPi is the use of a mini-USB power connector, even though it uses the older style...almost everyone has a power adapter for this connector buried in a drawer, reducing cost, shipping weight and e-waste.
    Reply
  • Arnulf - Wednesday, February 04, 2015 - link

    USB connectors only survive a certain number of plug-unplug cycles, mini/micro USB connectors survive even fewer cycles (not to mention how many times I've seen people accidentally rip the connector off by hitting whatever was plugged into it).

    Barrel connectors are much sturdier than mini/micro USB, trivial to replace (only 3 large pins/contacts to resolder) and can be used with generic adjustable wall adapters ("wall warts").
    Reply
  • ddriver - Wednesday, February 04, 2015 - link

    I don't think there is something wrong with barrel power connectors, aside from going the "efforts" to standardize mini-usb for device power delivery. But this only applies when the barrel is the only connector, IMO there is enough room for both and the add of cost is negligible. Plus there are a LOT of existing power supplies with barrel connectors, so it is a good thing if they still can come handy. Another benefit is the pins are pretty big, so if you want to solder a power cord directly onto the board, that makes it easier, soldering onto a small usb connector is harder and much easier to short something.

    The upsides of a usb power connector are compatibility with the now more common currently produced power adapters and of course, the possibility to use it for data as well.
    Reply
  • alexvoica - Wednesday, February 04, 2015 - link

    It's not proprietary, it is the same connector used for the PlayStation Portable (PSP) game console. Reply
  • UrQuan3 - Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - link

    I have to admit, the complaint about the barrel connector is a strange one. They've been around for over half a century and rights are owned by no one. One of the big bane's of the Pi's design has been the mini-USB, as the standard USB spec only provides 500mA, but the Pi with a keyboard and mouse will need closer to 700mA. There are any number of forum posts where people have connected USB power supplies that are too small. Even so, the photo of the CI20 shows that it *comes with* a USB to barrel adapter cable. A USB tablet charger should be fine.

    Connectors on only 2 sides instead of the Pi's 3, so a better design there. I still like the BeagleBone Black more though. Board shape is odd, but it is still 4"x3.5", so only a bit larger. Built in WiFi alone should be worth the extra space. You could probably use the cutout L shape to add a user-defined connector next to the SD card.

    Anyway, mine showed up today. I haven't programed for a MIPS CPU since we got rid of the old SGIs. I guess I won't get anything else useful done tonight. We'll see how the benchmarks compare to the Pi and Pandaboard.
    Reply
  • Ikefu - Wednesday, February 04, 2015 - link

    I still think the Beaglebone Black as the best form factor. All of the major cord connectors are on one side. I like the RPi form factor with the exception of the power connector being at a 90 degree angle to everything else. WHY?!?! It totally jacks with project cases. And then there is this form factor.... Lolwat? Reply
  • ddriver - Wednesday, February 04, 2015 - link

    I am not aware of any particular specific form factor for that, IMO it is "embedded" for factor, which is quite abstract really, since there is embedded platforms the size of a dime and all the way to the size of an ATX board. Reply
  • jonathan_markland - Wednesday, February 04, 2015 - link

    Mine arrived today. Having read the first 16 comments on this forum, I have to say I'm not upset with the Ci20 at all.

    You are right about the shape of the board. There's about it that suggests it was originally intended for something else... Or is it just a coincidence that the protruding section contains a Rpi GPIO and Rpi-style camera connector?

    In any case, it's interesting, from a Computer Scientist perspective, to finally own one of the most talked-about RISC microprocessor architectures of its day, for just £50. I'm not aware of any other MIPS based SBC on the market. And it's pretty reasonable on the performance spec to boot.

    If anyone here is looking for buyer's remorse - I wish I hadn't been quite so keen to put away my D-Link USB HUB I had bought for my *very* old (256MB) Model B Pi. (To the uninitiated, an external USB HUB made it possible to hot-plug memory sticks without the old Pi resetting itself). This week's news suggests the $35 I invested in that B+ last summer, could have been better spent :(
    Reply
  • ddriver - Thursday, February 05, 2015 - link

    Last summer there was nothing better you could have bought for that 35$. Learn how to track market update cycles in order to spend your money in a way to maximize the value of what you get. I have to admit though, the B+ was a clever trick, a "refresh before a major update" that probably tricked a lot of people into spending money on something that's tremendously weaker than what they could have bought just a few months later.

    And hey, I'd understand if it was 350 or 3500$, but 35$ - what kind of investment is that? You spend more than that for a meal in a decent restaurant, which will be in oblivion just a few hours later ;)

    Last but not least, you complain about "wasting" 35$ on a Pi B, but in the same time are over enthusiastic about wasting 65$ on the CI20, that doesn't make sense, and portrays you as fairly biased.
    Reply

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