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Fast and power-efficient

Creator Ci20 has a 1.2 GHz dual-core CPU from Ingenic Semiconductor that packs 512 KB L2 cache and a IEEE 754-compliant FPU so your apps will run at blazing speed.

Up to Full HD resolution

A real multimedia powerhouse, Creator Ci20 features OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics (PowerVR SGX540 GPU) and up to 1080p video decoding at 30 fps (H.264, MPEG-4, etc.)

Communicate wirelessly

On-board support for key low-power wireless and wired protocols, including Fast Ethernet, 2.4 GHz 802.11 b/g/n/ Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

Loaded with memory

Creator Ci20 features plenty of memory so it can run multiple apps in parallel. 8 GB of NAND flash and an SD card slot provide limitless storage expansion.

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Why choose Creator Ci20?

Our board provides a compact, high-performance development platform for MIPS CPUs and PowerVR SGX GPUs. It runs multiple Linux distributions as well as the Android Open Source Platform (AOSP), providing a perfect prototyping tool for IoT, wearables, mobile and gaming applications.

Programming

Creator Ci20 comes pre-installed with Debian, so it’s ready to work right out of the box.

You don’t need to buy any SD cards or Wi-Fi/Bluetooth dongles – the board already includes a generous 8 GB of NAND flash memory and there’s an embedded wireless combo chip for both Wi-Fi ( 802.11 b/g/n) and Bluetooth 4.0.

You can build on any existing projects easily using the Raspberry Pi-compatible interface and quickly build amazing projects using the wide choice of the other I/Os available on the Ci20 (UART, GPIO, SPI, I2C, ADC, etc.)

Support

Creator Ci20 developers can access our forums for free help and support both from us and within a growing community. We also constantly maintain and update the associated software to make sure you can get the best out of the board.

Powerful graphics

Easily create graphics applications using the PowerVR SGX GPU under Linux or Android. For developers who are just starting out, we offer free graphics tools, documentation and demos as part of our PowerVR Graphics SDK.

Cloud connected

The Creator boards provide an ideal platform for trying out our free Creator Device Manager for IoT development. The Creator infrastructure makes it easy to develop applications for the Internet of Things and run them on Creator boards, mobile devices, and the web

Introducing the Ci20

How to flash a new OS to the Ci20

What’s on board?

Get to know Creator Ci20 up close. The diagram below shows the various components and layout of the board.


Further Information

Quick start guide

Powering on

Your new Creator Ci20 microcomputer has been pre-configured to run Debian 7 out of the box. Before powering on, please connect your mouse and keyboard to the USB port(s) and a screen via HDMI.

Installing and running apps

Linux

Connect Creator Ci20 to the internet. You can connect Creator Ci20 to the internet using an Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi. If you want to use Wi-Fi, click the Wi-Fi icon on the bottom right of your computer’s screen and select the Wi-Fi that you want to connect to from the list of available access points. Enter the password of your Wi-Fi if required.
Open a console (right click anywhere on the desktop and select Open Terminal Here).
Change current privileges to root by typing in the following commands:

  • su root (when prompted for the password, enter ci20)
  • apt-get update

Here are some apps you can install:

  • apt-get install openarena
  • apt-get install chromium-bsu
  • apt-get install teeworlds
  • apt-get install freedoom
  • apt-get install hardinfo

You can then launch OpenArena, Chromium B.S.U., Teeworlds and Freedoom from the Games section in your Applications Menu.
HardInfo is a system information and cross-platform benchmarking tool for Linux; you can run it by typing hardinfo in an open terminal; scroll down to the bottom of the window for a suite of CPU benchmarks.

Android

Note: Booting Android takes a few minutes
Connect Creator Ci20 to the internet. You can connect Creator Ci20 to the internet using an Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi. If you want to use Wi-Fi, go to ‘Settings’ >’Wi-Fi’ and turn on wireless. Select the Wi-Fi that you want to connect to from the list of available access points. Enter the password of your Wi-Fi if required.
Here are some apps you can install:

  • ES File Explorer
  • OpenArena
  • Gods Rush
  • Pure Connect
  • Set Orientation (selecting Landscape will ensure that your screen always stays in the correct position)

Flashing from the SD card

You can re-flash Creator Ci20 at any time to boot a fresh copy of the operating system of your choice. The re‑flashing procedure is very simple; you will need:

  • Hardware:
    • Creator Ci20
    • An SD card (4 GB or higher)
  • Various software packages depending on your OS of choice (see below)
  • The following versions of Android or Linux:

If you have any questions, please use our forums.

Linux
  • Open a terminal.
  • To determine the device name of the SD card, run lsblk which will list all block devices. Then insert the SD card, wait a few seconds, and run ‘lsblk’ again. A new device plus any partitions should appear compared to the original list, the SD card will be the new top level device.

Please make sure that you have the right device name to avoid overwriting other partitions.

  • Unmount all partitions on the SD card. If the device name were ‘sdx’, this would be done with:

umount /dev/sdx*

  • Write the image file with the following (replacing sdx with the correct device name):

dd if=nand_2015_09_09.img of=/dev/sdx bs=8M

  • When it completes (note that dd will give no progress indication), run:

sync

  • Power off Creator Ci20 and move the JP3 selector from 1-2 to 2-3. The JP3 pin can be found right next to the Ethernet port.
  • Insert the SD card in Creator Ci20.
  • Power on Creator Ci20.
    • The LED will go from red to blue (ie., the flashing process has started);
    • Wait for ~10 minutes for the LED light to go back to red (ie., the flashing process has completed).
  • Power off Creator Ci20, remove the SD card and move the JP3 pin back to its original position (1-2).
  • Power on Creator Ci20; the newly flashed operating system will start running.
Windows
  • Insert the SD card in your PC.
  • Run SDFormatter and format the SD card.
  • Run Win32DiskImager and select one of the two image files listed and the corresponding drive letter for the SD card. If you don’t have a built-in SD card slot on your PC or if it doesn’t show up in the drop-down list, use a USB adapter instead.
  • Click ‘Write’ and wait for the process to complete.
  • Power off Creator Ci20 and move the JP3 selector from 1-2 to 2-3. The JP3 pin can be found right next to the Ethernet port.
  • Insert the SD card in Creator Ci20.
  • Power on Creator Ci20:
    • The LED will go from red to blue (ie., the flashing process has started);
    • Wait for ~10 minutes for the LED light to go back to red (ie., the flashing process has completed).
  • Power off Creator Ci20, remove the SD card and move the JP3 pin back to its original position (1-2).
  • Power on Creator Ci20; the newly flashed operating system will start running.
OS X
  • Open a terminal (/Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app).
  • Insert the SD card into your computer and list the block devices on your system by running:
  • diskutil list
  • Using diskutil’s output, identify the device name for the SD card by finding the entry which matches your SD card’s partition name and size. The device name is in the format /dev/diskX, where X represents a random number.

Please make sure that you have the right device name to avoid overwriting other partitions.

  • Unmount the mounted partitions on the SD card:
  • diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskX
  • Write the new image to the SD card (it might take a while to finish):
  • sudo dd if=debian6-20130815.img of=/dev/diskX bs=8m
  • When it completes (note that ‘dd’ will give no progress indication), run:
  • sync
  • Insert the SD card into Creator Ci20.
  • Power on Creator Ci20.
    • The LED will go from red to blue (ie., the flashing process has started);
    • Wait for ~10 minutes for the LED light to go back to red (ie., the flashing process has completed).
  • Power off Creator Ci20, remove the SD card and move the JP3 pin back to its original position (1-2).
  • Power on Creator Ci20; the newly flashed operating system will start running.

Documentation

You can find detailed documentation, including user guides, full hardware schematics and more by visiting our dedicated eLinux page for Creator Ci20.

FAQs

Creator Ci20 comes pre-programmed with a Debian7 installation. Plug in your accessories (USB keyboard, USB mouse, HDMI cable connected to a screen) and you are good to go.

If you encounter any problems, please read the Troubleshooting guide. If you need more technical details, then please consult the technical manuals, the developer zone pages, or use our forums.

Can I just plug it in?

Yes! By default, Creator Ci20 will boot a factory-image of Debian installed on the on-board flash memory. Remember to plug in the HDMI cable before you power the board. You can then configure the system to suit your individual needs, such as connecting it to your network (via Wi-Fi or Ethernet) and installing more packages. Please see the Debian7 page for more details.

When you plug in the power cord, the LED should turn immediately red, then blink once, and then return to red. If the LED is not lit, then the board is not powered. If the LED is blue then the board is powered, but something has most likely gone wrong.

See the Troubleshooting page if you have problems getting your Creator Ci20 set up.

What does it boot by default?

Creator Ci20 boots a factory-image of Debian 7 from the on-board flash memory. You can replace it with other distributions, or place a distribution onto an SD card and boot from there instead.

How do I use the default Debian 7 operating system?

You either need a USB keyboard, mouse and HDMI monitor plugged in or a serial port in order to either interact directly or over your network.

What is the default Debian 7 login?

The default login credentials are:

username: ci20
password: ci20

The password for root is also ci20.

How do I install more apps?

You can use the usual install methods available for Debian e.g “sudo apt-get install <app>”. If you prefer a GUI-based system, you can install the synaptic package manager using “sudo apt-get install synaptic”.

Where can I get help? Is there a forum or mailing list?

If you have problems getting your Ci20 set up, please take a look at the Troubleshooting page first to see if it resolves your problem.

Also feel free to use the dedicated Google Groups, the forums and the IRC channel where Creator Ci20 developers and users hang out.

What are all the connectors?

There are numerous connectors on the board which are described on the Hardware page.

What power supply does it take?

Creator Ci20 runs off a 5V barrel connector-type power supply. The plug size is 4mm diameter with a pin size of 1.7mm.

This power supply has the same connector as the Sony PlayStation Portable; Creator Ci20 ships with a USB cable with that plug.

The board can draw up to 800 mA under full load, including HDMI, GPU, CPU and Ethernet; at minimum, the power supply should deliver at least 5V/1A.

We recommend using a standard 5V/2A power supply. If you are connecting several power-hungry USB peripherals (e.g. an external hard drive), connecting a separately-powered USB hub is also recommended.

Can I power the board from the USB?

You cannot use any of the dedicated USB ports to power on the board.

If you want to power the board from a computer/laptop USB port using the power cable included in the box, you should be aware that most PCs power off USB ports if the power draw exceeds 500 mA.

For an optimal experience, we do not recommend powering the board from a PC USB port.

Where can I get the latest Linux distro and Android version from?

OS images, directions for installing them, and details about supported features are here.

What if I want to boot my own OS?

The easiest way to try out your own code is to develop it either for an SD card image, or to use network booting from the u-boot prompt.

Can I code on it?

The default Debian image comes with a full GCC installation, and native on-board compilation is fully supported. The on-board RAM memory (1Gbyte of DDR3) will cater for all but the largest application builds, and an SD card, USB stick or network share can be used for extra storage space.

If you wish to cross-compile code on your desktop, you’ll need a dedicated toolchain.

Projects

Creator Ci20 Cases

Make your own 3D printed case for the board:

Home automation

Smart appliances (e.g. thermostats, doorbells, smoke/fire alarms etc.), remote control (e.g. lights, electrical appliances)

  • We would like to evaluate the board as an alternative to other mainstream SBC systems. Creator Ci20 would be used to collect environmental sensor information such as temperature, humidity, etc. around an MRI device for proactive maintenance and prevention of major faults. We feel this MIPS-based board might provide us a way to work around vendor lock in. – Stealth start-up, USA

Interactive multimedia streaming (e.g. music to wireless speakers, YouTube or Netflix on 1080p monitor/TV screen)

Connected cameras and vision applications

Ambient monitoring, video and image processing (e.g. license plate recognition)

  • “I’ve been using Linux on a daily basis since 2005 and I do electronics in my free time. I plan to use the Creator Ci20 board as an IP PBX (mostly with Asterisk, Opensips and Freeswitch) as I worked some year ago as a VoIP engineer. Since the board delivers optimal power consumption and offers built-in Wi-Fi, I plan to hook it up to some solar panels and create an IP PBX for smaller companies that would run when you put under direct sunlight (with a battery backup). Maybe it could even get a small OLED display for major parameters like simultaneous calls, free disk space, free memory, CPU utilization.” – Anonymous maker, Hungary

Industrial applications

Retail kiosks and digital advertising, alarm/security management, occupancy sensors, etc.

Robotics

  • “I run robotic and programming classes in a number of schools and universities in Shropshire, England. I was absolutely over the moon when I was offered the incredible Creator Ci20 dev board. I have been using it to show off and teach young child the art of robotics and computer programming. Imagination has made quite a few people (young and old) very happy. Thank you for even proposing to support and develop grass roots, home brew computer science.” – Dr Ashley A. Green, Robotics and Space Educator

Gaming

Arcade or casual gaming (e.g. FreeDOOM, Teeworlds, etc.)

  • OpenArena is one of the most popular open source Quake III clones available. The developers have used Creator Ci20 to port the Android version to MIPS and have uploaded it to Google Play (the Linux version already had MIPS support) https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ws.openarena.sdl&hl=en_GB
  • Cocos2d-x (the world’s largest open source game engine) for Android has been ported to the MIPS architecture using Creator Ci20; a Linux version is in the works: http://blog.imgtec.com/powervr/porting-the-cocos2d-x-game-engine-to-creator-ci20
  • “Limelight Game Streaming is a free open-source project to bring NVIDIA’s GameStream technology to as many devices as possible. We’ve successfully brought GameStream to several desktop PCs and Android devices and now plan to use the Creator Ci20 development board for two of our current ports. Our Android port already has native libraries for MIPS32-based processors; it’s been tested in the Android MIPS emulator but never on a real device. A MIPS-based device that can decode 1080p at 60 fps video is a very cool prospect and having the hardware in hand allows us to tune our use of Android’s MediaCodec framework to produce the lowest latency video. We also plan to port Limelight to Creator Ci20. Recently, we’ve been extending support to other small form factor Linux devices; getting Limelight running on Creator Ci20 under Debian would provide a better option for users that want a small streaming device.” – Cameron Gutman, Limelight Game Streaming