The next few years will see a rapid expansion in the number of devices, i.e. “things”, connected to the Internet. Some forecasters are estimating that there will be between 20 to 40 billion “things” on the Internet by 2020, far more than the number of humans. This Internet of Things (IoT) is going to be big business and all the major electronic companies are scrambling to stake out their territory.
One company which is well placed to reap the commercial benefits of the Internet of Things, is Imagination. Last year Imagination released it Ci20 Creator single board computer and now the company is preparing to launch a new board aimed specifically at the Internet of Things.
Today Imagination has announced that the Ci40, which will use a dual-core MIPS based processor, will run not only Linux (which let’s face it was a foregone conclusion) but also Brillo from Google. Brillo, which was announced by Google during its 2015 I/O conference, is the search giant’s new OS and platform for the Internet of Things. And as you would expect it is based on Android and has a minimal set of system requirements. It also has broad silicon support, which is where Imagination comes in.
Imagination is well known for its MIPS CPU architecture, one of the the officially supported architectures of Android, plus its range of PowerVR GPUs. It also has a comprehensive communications platform called Ensigma, which will include support for 5G. But the key here is the MIPS architecture.
The new Ci40 board will use a dual-core MIPS interAptiv CPU, which is being manufactured by Global Foundries using a 40nm process technology. In an age when the leading chips from Samsung and Qualcomm are using 14nm and 20nm process technologies, then 40nm might seem a bit old. However by using a mature process node Imagination and Global Foundries are ensuring high yield rates and low costs, both of which are vital for IoT. According to Imagination, the Ci40’s CPU include hardware multithreading a technology which also been used by Mobileye in their new EyeQ4 SoC to deliver 2.5 TFLOPS of performance. Interesting the new Tesla autopilot functionality runs on a MIPS-based Mobileye chip.
Imagination will be making more announcements about the Ci40 during November including which communications standards it will support and details about availability.