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Today, Imagination Technologies has announced a new development board for university students, professionals, and hobbyists. The MIPS Creator CI20 platform currently runs various Linux distributions and will soon support Android 4.4 KitKat as well. Android developers looking to get to grips with MIPS CPUs and PowerVR GPUs now have a new toy to play with.

Typically your Android device will run on one of the many ARM processors designs out there, but Android is quite happy with other architectures too, including Intel’s x86 Silvermont and Imagination’s MIPS.

In terms of board hardware, the CI20 covers all of Imagination Technologies’ SoC IP processors. The CI20 comes with a dual-core MIPS-based Ingenic Xburst JZ4780 processor clocked at 1.2GHz, a PowerVR SGX540 GPU, 1GB of DDR3 RAM memory, 8GB of NAND flash on-board storage and a SD card slot for additional space if required.

Just like the popular Arduino and Raspberry Pi platforms, Imagination Technologies’ MIPS Creator CI20 also offers up a range of connectivity options, including Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, CMOS camera connector, an HDMI connection, and one port for USB OTG devices.

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Compared with some of the other development boards on the market, the CI20 gives developers access to hardware that is a little closer to what can be found in modern Android devices. The MIPS Ingenic Xburst CPU features FPU and SIMD functionality, which is particularly important for those looking to perform any math heavy signal processing. The PowerVR SGX540 GPU has also appeared in a number of Android devices, including the Motorola Razr i, Samsung Galaxy Nexus I9250, and LG Optimus L9, and supports OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 and OpenGL 2.1 graphics APIs.

Furthermore, the MIPS Creator CI20 features dedicated video hardware, which can decode popular formats in 1080p at 60fps, and a H.264 encoder which works at 1080p 30fps. Just like the Pi, the CI20 would make an ideal small-form factor HTPC .

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Above: See how the MIPS CI20 stacks up against the Raspberry Pi

If Android isn’t your thing, or if you just want to try the board out before Android support arrives, the MIPS Creator CI20 already has OS images available for Debian 7, Gentoo, Yocto, Arch, as well as other Linux distributions.

Developers and hobbyists keen to get their hands on one can do so by registering over at Imagination’s store. Imagination Technologies will be handing out development boards for free, depending on availability, once you’ve given them a brief description of your project.

With Imagination looking to make a push into the smartphone and wearable CPU space, the company hopes that these development boards will go some way towards familiarising the developer community with its MIPS architecture.

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