Imagination Technologies has launched a new development kit called Creator Ci40 on Kickstarter. The Ci40 microcomputer has been specifically designed for smart home, IoT and other connected devices (drones, robots, etc.) – but it also has the hardware requirements (802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi, an Ethernet port, SD and USB storage) needed to be used as a high-speed wireless router.
The Creator Ci40 board runs not only Linux (Debian, OpenWrt) but also Brillo, the new operating system from Google. In fact, Creator is one of the few platforms selected by Google to be part of its Brillo golden reference programme – these boards can be seen as the equivalent of the Nexus phones/tablets, receiving regular updates and patches from Google every six months.
Hardware-wise, the microcomputer packs a powerful dual-core chip that has been optimised for IoT and networking applications. Many existing IoT dev boards reuse existing mobile chips but this leads to increased power consumption and short battery life – a phenomenon recently noticed in wearable devices. Instead, Creator Ci40 includes an innovative, custom-built chip called cXT200 that delivers high performance but also includes a balanced feature set aimed at low power consumption and is manufactured using a low power process node from GLOBALFOUNDRIES.
In addition, whereas other boards today might use only 802.11n Wi-Fi or Bluetooth (or don’t have any form of connectivity at all), Creator Ci40 includes a full wireless connectivity package: 802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (Classic and Low Energy) and 802.15.4. The latter represents the foundation for many IoT standards including the Thread protocol, ZigBee and 6LoWPAN (Imagination is a member of the Thread Group as well as the Qualcomm-backed AllSeen Alliance).
Some developers are already using Creator during an initial trial; for example, a company is using the kit to monitor the temperature and humidity of the soil on several farms and adjust irrigation accordingly. Another developer is using it to monitor multiple car parks and send notifications to an iOS and Android app that directs drivers to the nearest space available.