Firefox OS now running on a MIPS-based reference tablet

Over 7 billion people call Earth home but only about a third own a mobile device. This means there is vast potential for companies to innovate and bring the exciting mobile web experience to new consumers, especially in fast-growing markets such as South America, South-East Asia, Eastern Europe and many others.

Imagination plays a vital role in the complex infrastructure required to make this happen by providing the underlying technologies to accelerate this process, whether it’s in the form of 64- and 32-bit MIPS CPUs for low-cost LTE access points, cost-optimized PowerVR GPUs for ultra-affordable platforms or connected processors for IoT devices.

We are also working with our partners to create new and innovative platforms and optimize existing reference devices which allow silicon vendors and OEMs to create more affordable devices using our latest technologies.

MIPS-based chip runs Firefox OS

The platform we’re highlighting today is a MIPS-based reference tablet from Ingenic, a sub-$100 device from China that can run either Android 4.4 KitKat from Google or an experimental version of Firefox OS, Mozilla’s own operating system.

Featuring a 9.7” screen of 1024 x 768 resolution, the tablet is a compact device sporting relatively small bezels. The headphone socket, a Micro USB and a Mini HDMI port, two physical buttons (sleep/wake and back) and a DC power input are on the top edge, along with the microphone, and the volume controls; a pair of stereo speakers sits at the bottom on the front. You can see a short hands-on video of the tablet running Firefox OS here.

Firefox OS running on MIPS-based tablet The reference tablet has full access to the marketplace

Hardware specifications include a 1.2 GHz dual-core, MIPS32-based Ingenic JZ4780 processor featuring a PowerVR SGX540 GPU, a H.264/VP8-capable video decoder (up to 1080p at 30 fps), and 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 support. The tablet also features front and rear cameras which are ideal for WebRTC-based video conferencing or for casual photo taking and HD video recording. In addition, developers have full access to the Firefox Marketplace so they can easily create, test and publish cross-platform HTML5 apps.

For a chance to experience Firefox OS on one of these MIPS-based tablets, all you need to do is click one (or all) of the options in the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We’ve also given a free sample to Andre Garzia, a Mozilla rep and Firefox OS advocate. The main highlights for him are the quality of the screen and the overall stability of the MIPS-based platform; he also believes platforms like these are great for educating young developers or creating fully-customizable solutions for small enterprises.

Firefox OS home screen - MIPS PowerVRFirefox OS running on a MIPS-based reference tablet

Better yet, the tablet you see above and our new Creator CI20 microcomputer use the same MIPS-based Ingenic processor. Developers can therefore easily port Firefox OS to the development board by downloading the full source code soon to be available on GitHub.

A quick introduction to Firefox OS

Firefox OS is built entirely on web-powered technologies and is emblematic of what can be achieved using HTML5 core technologies. Firefox OS is based on Gecko, a rendering engine designed by Mozilla to push pixels on mobile screens using a relatively new technology called WebGL.

Firefox OS running WebGL demo on tablet - MIPS PowerVRWebGLWater is an example app part of our WebGL SDK hosted on GitHub

WebGL is a graphics API from the Khronos Group that delivers native performance inside apps written using web-friendly technologies; if you’d like to see a few examples of WebGL in action, check out our PowerVR WebGL SDK on GitHub.

Final words

Devices like Creator CI20 or the tablet highlighted above make ideal platforms for application development but can also be used as ultra-affordable everyday computing devices. Ultimately, when it comes to this entry-level category (think sub-$50 smartphones or sub-$100 tablets), the user experience is always going to be determined by cost.

Since Imagination designs the essential hardware IP that powers a wide range of platforms from premium smartphones to ultra-affordable tablets, we can help our partners better understand and anticipate consumer trends and thus strike the perfect balance between performance, features and price.

For the latest news and announcements from Imagination, follow us on Twitter (@ImaginationPR, @MIPSguru, @PowerVRInsider).

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