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 newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags processorshardware systemsconsumer electronicsComponentsImagination Technologies

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

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?