Newton is the first MIPS-based mini-computer for wearables

The Newton development kit is the first with a MIPS CPU

Ingenic's SD card-sized wearable computer with MIPS CPU

Ingenic's SD card-sized wearable computer with MIPS CPU

A Chinese company has released a computer about the size of an SD card that can run a full version of Android and should make it easier to build wearable devices.

Called the Newton, the computer was developed by China's Ingenic Semiconductor and is the first development kit for wearables with a MIPS-based CPU. It's an integrated board, like a smaller version of the Raspberry Pi, aimed at those who want to build and prototype wearable devices.

Such hardware development kits are becoming popular, and Intel has also released a miniature computer for wearables, called Edison. Newton can include a CPU, Flash, Wi-Fi, NFC and various sensors on a single board about the same length as two U.S. quarters, or two euro coins.

The Newton appears to be available now, though it wasn't clear from the company's website how much it costs or where it can be ordered.

Ingenic's chips aren't new to wearables market -- they're already used in inexpensive smartwatches, said Alexandru Voica, a spokesman for Imagination Technologies, which develops the MIPS architecture. An Ingenic MIPS chip was also used in US$99 Android tablets that hit the market a few years ago.

Intel's Edison was originally the size of an SD card but it has been made a bit bigger to incorporate more sensors.

Along with wearables, the development kits from Intel are also designed for use in sensor equipment and data-gathering instruments. There are trade-offs with the small size, which limits what the boards can be used for. Freescale has a larger board for building prototypes, called Warp, that includes wireless charging and supports a wider array of sensors.

The Newton board isn't yet compatible with Android Wear, but that may happen eventually.

"Android Wear is still in development so we can't claim full compatibility yet," Imagination's Voica said. "We are, however, the only CPU IP supplier on the list of Google ecosystem partners, so the MIPS architecture is fully covered."

Intel also plans to make chips compatible with Android Wear, but unlike Imagination Intel doesn't widely license its core CPU designs, meaning chip makers like Ingenic can't make x86 processors.

Low power consumption is key to the long battery life wearables need to provide. Newton consumes 4 milliwatts in standby mode and consumes 100 miliwatts during MP3 playback, Imagination said in a blog entry about the board Tuesday.

"This means that Ingenic-powered smartwatches can last for 30+ hours on a single charge," Imagination said.

The Newton's MIPS CPU operates at 1GHz and the graphics core can play 720p graphics at 30 frames per second. Other features include 256KB of L2 cache, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth attachments, and UART, USB and GPIO connectors. And the board can support up to 3GB of memory.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Imagination Technologiesconsumer electronicshardware systemsComponentsprocessors

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?