CI20: Raspberry Pi Rival?

Big Power, Small Package

The Creator CI20 packs a ton of computing power into its tiny board. Its numbers are impressive: 1 GB of RAM, 4 GB of flash storage, a dual core 1.2 GHz MIPS32 CPU, and a pre-loaded operating system (it can run Android as several versions of Linux). For connectivity, it has wifi, two USB ports, Ethernet, BlueTooth, an HDMI video output, and an SD card slot, plus a few header pins for developers who want to do more.

If you think the CI20 sounds like a Raspberry Pi rival, you’re not alone: many hobbyists are asking if this new device will replace the Raspberry Pi in popularity. Some say yes, while others say no. Your answer will depend on how you weigh the pros and cons. Here are a few things to consider.

CI20’s Specs Win Over Raspberry Pi’s

If you’re looking for a microcomputer with the most muscle, then the CI20 wins every time. The processor is about twice as fast as Raspberry Pi’s, plus it has more storage, better graphics capabilities, and built-in wifi — something users of the Raspberry Pi had to go without.

While the Pi is great for small applications and education, some developers quickly realised that it was limited. The CI20, on the other hand, has enough power to do bigger projects, making it beneficial to both programmers who wish to use it on more enterprising endeavours and students who have exhausted what using the Pi can teach them.

Where the CI20 Falls Short

The first thing sceptics wonder is if the CI20’s extra power is even necessary. This is a credit card-sized computer, they argue. Students who want a device on which to learn don’t want so many bells and whistles to start out with, and serious developers will opt for a more powerful machine to begin with. Also, the compatibility of MIPS processors (which the CI20 has) with Android has been called into question, so there is the potential for some issues there.

But the real drawback of the CI20 as compared to the Raspberry Pi is price: it’s essentially twice as much as the more powerful of the two Pi models. Many tech specialists have questioned if there really is a market for a microcomputer at a higher price point. The CI20 is set to ship at the end of January, and it will be interesting to see if it truly does rival the popular Raspberry Pi.

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