We've seen plenty of el-cheapo Android tablets hit the market in the last several months - most of which are running a phone version of Android, with no access to the Market or other Google products. Looks like MIPS Technologies is in the game to change the way we look at budget tablets, as it just announced a $99 ICS tablet. Yeah - $99. With ICS. Soak it up.

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The 7-inch tablet is equipped with a 1GHz single-core MIPS-based XBurst CPU, and has the features we've all come to expect from a modern tablet, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, dual cameras, HDMI out, and microSD card slot. If you're excited about the idea of a sub-$100 ICS tablet, you're not alone; the Godfather of Android himself, Andy Rubin, even dropped a line about the MIPS tablet:

I’m thrilled to see the entrance of MIPS-Based Android 4.0 tablets into the market. Low cost, high performance tablets are a big win for mobile consumers and a strong illustration of how Android’s openness drives innovation and competition for the benefit of consumers around the world

The tablet is currently only available in China, but is expected to hit US soil "within the next several months under brands from companies including Leader International Inc. and OMG Electronics LTD." Of course, if you're willing to shell out more than half the cost of the tablet for shipping, then you can definitely get one imported.

MIPS Technologies and Ingenic Semiconductor Announce

Availability of World’s First Android™ ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ Tablet

1GHz, Low-Power Tablet Sets New Market Standard at Sub-$100 Price Point

SUNNYVALE, Calif. – December 5, 2011 MIPS Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: MIPS), a leading provider of industry-standard processor architectures and cores for digital home, networking and mobile applications, and Ingenic Semiconductor, a leading China-based CPU provider for mobile multimedia applications, today announced worldwide availability of the world’s first tablet based on Android ™ 4.0, known as ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’, that is retailing for less than $100 (U.S). The tablet is powered by Ingenic’s JZ4770 mobile applications processor, which leverages a MIPS-Based™ XBurst™ CPU running at 1GHz.

According to Andy Rubin, senior vice president of mobile at Google, “I’m thrilled to see the entrance of MIPS-Based Android 4.0 tablets into the market. Low cost, high performance tablets are a big win for mobile consumers and a strong illustration of how Android’s openness drives innovation and competition for the benefit of consumers around the world.”

The new Android 4.0 tablet is available in China and online through Ainol Electronics Co., Ltd. It will be available in the United States and other geographies within the next several months under brands from companies including Leader International Inc. and OMG Electronics Ltd.

The new tablet is available with a 7” capacitive multi-touch screen. 8” and 9” form factors will be available soon. All versions include support for WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, USB 2.0, HDMI 1.3 and microSD, as well as 3D graphics with the Vivante GC860 GPU, 1080p video decoding and dual front/rear cameras. The XBurst processor’s power-efficient architecture provides extended battery life—the 7” tablet draws less than 400mA during active web browsing.

“We are pleased to join with MIPS to announce these breakthrough high-performance, low-power, low-cost Android 4.0 tablets. Combining the elegance of the MIPS architecture and Ingenic’s innovation in processor design, we are bringing a new level of processor technology to mobile devices. As we continue to collaborate with MIPS to broaden the mobile ecosystem around the legendary MIPS architecture, we anticipate even broader proliferation of our devices worldwide. We believe the mobile world will be more versatile and colorful with another processor joining in,” said Qiang Liu, chairman and CEO, Ingenic Semiconductor.

“The openness of Android is enabling a new level of connectedness and interaction between devices and between people across the globe. We are excited to be a part of the Android ecosystem delivering on that vision. We applaud Ingenic’s accomplishment in developing this new high-performance, feature-rich Android 4.0 tablet, and offering it at a price point that makes it widely accessible. We look forward to teaming with Ingenic as it continues to develop MIPS-Based mobile innovations,” said Sandeep Vij, president and CEO, MIPS Technologies.

Ingenic JZ4770 SoC

The Ingenic JZ4770 SoC inside of the new tablet is one of the first MIPS-Based systems-on-chips (SoCs) targeted for mobile devices that delivers 1GHz+ frequency, increasingly a requirement for tablets and other devices that incorporate rich multimedia and high-performance applications/functionality. The JZ4770 SoC is powered by a MIPS32 compatible XBurst CPU designed by Ingenic. The XBurst CPU core adopts an innovative ultra-low-power pipelining architecture which consumes less than 90mW in 1GHz (with L1 cache), and the entire SOC consumes ~250mW with the CPU and video engine operating under full load. In addition to the XBurst CPU, the JZ4770 SoC integrates an optimized 1080p video processing engine, OpenGL ES 2.0 3D graphics processing unit from Vivante Corp. and numerous on-chip analog and application blocks such as audio codecs and GPS.

Pricing and Availability

Ingenic’s JZ4770 SoC for Android 4.0 tablets is available now. The new Android 4.0 tablet is available in China and online through Ainol Electronics Co., Ltd. at www.ainovo.com. The 7” tablet retails for less than $100 (U.S.) non-subsidized. The tablet will be available in other geographies within the next several months. For more information, visit http://en.ingenic.cn/.