Chinese have created a computer the size of a coin

Chinese have created a computer the size of a coin

Coin size computer chip

A compact computer the size of a coin was developed by specialists from the Chinese company Ingenic Semiconductor. The device is called Newton2 (details in specifications will be discussed below). This is the first microcomputer built on the basis of a MIPS-compatible CPU. Outwardly it looks like an integral board and is comparable in size to the usual coin. Dimensions of the board – only 2 x 4 cm.

Newton includes not only the CPU, but also operational and flash memory, a number of sensors, a USB connector, as well as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC chips for wireless communication. It runs on the mobile operating system Android and is characterized by low power consumption.

According to the developers, their microcomputer is comparable in performance to modern smartphones. Due to the compact size, it can be installed in popular wearable gadgets today. However, when the first devices on the basis of Newton appear, one can only guess.

The Newton2 platform is a highly integrated module. These types of electronics are often referred to as a System on Module or SOM. Newton2 integrates the necessities of a wearable or IoT device, such as several built-in sensors and connectors for optional or obviously external components such as a display. Both Newton and Newton2 contain full featured application processors and can run Android.

wearable computer platform

Ingenic Newton2 SOM
Size 15mm x 30mm x 2.4mm
SoC Ingenic M200
Memory 512MB LPDDR2
Storage 4GB eMMC
WiFi Broadcom 43438 single-band 2.4GHz IEEE 802.11b/g/n
PMIC Ricoh RC5T619 power management IC
Bluetooth 4.1
Sensor IvenSense MPU-9250 gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer
Interfaces Display, Capacitive Touch, DMIC and AOHPL/R Audio, MIPI-CSI or I2C Camera, UART, I2C, GPIO, RF 2.4 GHz antenna, USB 2.0
Software Android 4.4

Power consumption for Newton is about 4mW standby, 100mW average, and 260mW peak. Newton2 states to cut standby consumption to 3mW. The SoC on Newton2 is entirely new, the Ingenic M200. Notable inclusions in M200, beyond the bevy of traditional functionality, are the LCD and E-Ink display controllers, voice trigger processing offload, and the Ingenic M200 SoC.

wearable chip

Ingenic M200 SoC
Package BGA270, 7.7mm x 8.9mm x 0.76mm, 0.4mm pitch
CPU XBurst1-HP core, 1.2 GHz
XBurst1-LP core, 300 MHz
GPU 2D/3D acceleration with OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1. OpenVG 1.1
VPU Video encoder up to 720p @ 30fps: H.264, VP8
Video decoder up to 720p @ 30fps: H.264, VP8, MPEG-1/2/4, VC-1, RV9
ISP HDR, video and image stabilization, crop and rescale, auto exposure + gain + white balance + focus control, edge sharpening, noise reduction, color correction, contrast enhancement, gamma correction
Memory DDR2, DDR3, LPDDR, LPDDR2 up to 667 Mbps
64-bit ECC NAND flash support Toggle 1.0 and ONFI2.0
Display LCD controller with OSD: TFT, SLCD and MIPI-DSI (2-lanes)
E-Ink controller
Camera MIPI-CSI2 (2-lanes), DVP
Audio CODEC with 24-bit ADC/DAC, stereo line-in, MIC in, and headphone interface
Low power DMIC controller
AC97/I2S/SPDIF interface for external audio codec
One PCM interface, supports both master and slave modes
Voice trigger engine to wake system by programmable specific voice
ADC 3 channels 12-bit SAR
Interfaces USB 2.0 OTG x 1
MMC/SD/SDIO controller x 2
Full-duplex UART port x 5
Synchronous serial interface x 2
Two-wire SMB serial interface x 4
Software Android 4.4

It is manufactured that not every M200 interface is exposed on the Newton2. For example, accessing all five UARTs would require integrating the M200 into your own custom board.

The CPUs inside the M200 SOC set this SOM apart. The M200 integrates two custom designed Ingenic XBurst1 processors using the MIPS32 Release 2 ISA and include floating point and SIMD. Whereas, each processor is a full applications processor (AP) with an MMU and caches. Nevertheless, you may consider the M200 CPUs heterogeneous as one CPU that is performance optimized and operates up to 1.2 GHz while the other is optimised for power consumption and runs up to 300 MHz.

This is actually what we have seen before from NVIDIA with their Tegra devices as well as ARM’s big.LITTLE, but it’s different than other wearable and IoT efforts where low power duties are handled by a simple microcontroller unit. Using two APs likely simplifies software development somewhat, even if they are different, as they aren’t as enormously different as an AP and a microcontroller unit.

XBurst1 CPU
Pipeline 9-stage, single issue
Ingenic Estimated
ISA MIPS32 Release 2 (both Integer and Floating Point ISA)
MMU 32 dual-entry full associative joint TLB
4 entry ITLB
4 entry DTLB
L1 Cache 32KB or 64KB I$ and D$
L2 Cache 256KB or 512KB
Process 180nm, 90nm, 65nm, 40nm
Ingenic Estimated
Power Consumption
(1.0GHz, 0.09mW/MHz) @65nmLP
(1.2GHz, 0.07mW/MHz) @40nmLP, performance optimized
(500MHz, 0.05mW/MHz) @40nmLP, power optimized

Looking at the XBurst1 power consumption, these cores are in fact, more significantly lower power than the Cortex-A5 which ARM specifies at 0.12 mW/MHz on the same 40nm LP process. Comparing to the cores beyond their power consumption is difficult, however, it is worth to point out that because ARM is citing Cortex-A5 as their most power efficient wearable CPU.

The XBurst1 CPU core has been around since 2005, when Ingenic was founded. Ingenic revealed in the year 2013 it had purchased a MIPS64 license and was developing XBurst2 with design completion targeted at 2014. This will go hand in hand with Android 5.0 supporting MIPS64 ISA natively.

With their roughly six month pace, it is not too farfetched to imagine a Newton2 Plus to target for applications for Infotainment (smart watches, augmented reality headsets, smart glasses, smart camera), healthcare (wearable healthcare monitors, fitness bands, activity trackers, smart clothing, sleep sensors).

newton2 plus
Newton2 plus
Newton2 Plus Development Kit
Newton2 Plus Development Kit