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Just before the launch of Maker Faire Rome, the Arduino team made a big splash by announcing two new Linux boards. The first is Galileo, which is made in collaboration with Intel:

Intel® Galileo board is the first product in a new family of Arduino Certified boards featuring Intel architecture. The platform is easy to use for beginners and for those looking to take designs to the next level.

Overall, the Intel Galileo development board is a great tool for quickly prototyping simple interactive designs like LED light displays that respond to social media, or for tackling more complex projects from automating home appliances to building life-size robots that you control from your smartphone.

Building on the Galileo development board, Intel and the Arduino community will work closely together on future products that bring the performance, scalability and possibilities of Intel technology to this growing community of makers.

During How to reMake the World conference, Intel Corporation CEO Brian Krzanich announced a large-scale donation of 50,000 Intel® Galileo boards to be given to 1,000 universities worldwide over the next 18 months.

Intel Galileo will be available by November 29, 2013 for under $60.

The second board announced today is the Arduino TRE which is based on the new Texas Instruments AM335x Processor. It’s the first Arduino board manufactured in the United States.

Thanks to the 1-GHz Sitara AM335x processor, Arduino developers get up to 100 times more performance with the Sitara-processor-based TRE than they do on the Arduino Leonardo or Uno. This performance opens the doors to more advanced Linux-powered applications. The Sitara-processor-based Linux Arduino can run high-performance desktop applications, processing-intensive algorithms or high-speed communications.

The Arduino TRE is two Arduinos in one: the Sitara-processor-based Linux Arduino plus a full AVR-based Arduino, while leveraging the simplicity of the Arduino software experience. The integration of the AVR Arduino enables the Arduino TRE to use the existing shield ecosystem so that innovators can expand the Arduino TRE to develop a wide range of high-performance applications such as 3D printers, gateways for building automation and lighting automation, telemetry hubs that collect data from nearby sensors wirelessly, and other connected applications that require host control plus real-time operations.

In addition, the Arduino TRE is partially the result of a close collaboration between Arduino and the foundation. These open hardware pioneers share a passion for expanding open source development and making technology accessible for artists, designers and hobbyists. The TRE design builds upon the experience of both Arduino and, combining the benefits of both community based boards.

“By choosing TI’s Sitara AM335x processor to power the Arduino TRE, we’re enabling customers to leverage the capabilities of an exponentially faster processor running full Linux,” said Massimo Banzi, co-founder, Arduino. “Our customers now have a scalable portfolio at their fingertips, from the microcontroller-based Uno to the TRE Linux computer.”

They’re expecting to ship the Arduino TRE in Spring 2014. The Arduino team did not announce the price of the board.

Matt Richardson

Matt Richardson

Matt Richardson is a San Francisco-based creative technologist and Contributing Editor at MAKE. He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.

  • Paul Stoffregen

    That Intel board looks pretty awesome CPU wise. But I/O might be slow? Intel’s FAQ has this to say:

    What is the maximum rate at which GPIO output pins can be updated?

    The GPIO output pins on Intel® Galileo are provided by an I2C Port Expander that is running at standard mode (100 kHz). Each I2C request to update a GPIO requires approximately 2ms. In addition to software overhead, this restricts the frequency achievable on the GPIO outputs to approximately 230 Hz.

    I briefly read through the code they’ve published. The Arduino core library compiles to a Linux userspace application, using a TTY device for Serial.print and /dev/uio for digitalWrite, etc. At least from the core library, I couldn’t tell if /dev/uio connects to something fast or a slow I2C port expander.

    But CPU-wise, it really does seem to be compiling sketches to native X86 code that will run at 400 MHz. Even if the I/O is slow, this thing looks like it’ll be very interesting for some types of projects!

  • Pedro Lopes

    Oww I Need this now!

  • Sean Michael Ragan

    What is Intel doing in this business? The development board market is microscopic by their standards. With AMD it makes slightly more sense; they’ve been trying for years to carve out a niche where they can lead. My guess is Intel is jumping on board just to keep them in check. Huge coup for Arduino, that’s for sure.

    • johngineer

      Only a guess on my part, but…

      Intel has been making efforts to move into the embedded space for a while now. In part it is because of AMD’s move in that direction, and in part it’s because they see the internet-of-things as an emerging market.

      While they (obviously) have the fab and engineering capabilities to make embedded products, they did not have a well-known platform on which to deploy their product for demo and evaluation. Also, the new enterprise runs counter to their popular image as a full-featured CPU company. For many embedded engineers, Intel is not the first name that springs to mind when they’re designing a product — it’s too easily dismissed out of hand as too expensive, over-featured, and/or power-hungry.

      By working with Arduino they are able to place themselves in a well-known (perhaps the best known) embedded ecosystem, thus making it easier for developers to adopt them as a platform. At the very least, it’s a way to let developers (and some consumers) gain some familiarity with their embedded products at an almost negligible price point.

      • Sean Michael Ragan

        Thanks, John. Appreciate your insight.

        But to quibble: isn’t it still more appropriate to analyze this product in terms of the development and prototyping space? When internet-of-things or other embedded systems applications develop commercially, presumably they’ll be sold as manufactured products, not DIY products or dev boards.

        The news that Intel is spending a lot of money to develop a curriculum around Galileo and is donating a bunch of boards to schools suggests to me that this move is more akin to the whole Apple-in-schools thing: Get ‘em using the brand early.

        • johngineer

          I certainly think the “Apple-in-schools” thing is also a factor. And you’re correct that final IoT products won’t feature dev boards like this one. However, the most difficult part of development for embedded is the toolchain.

          Most of these toolchains are terrible. Development boards that cost $300+ and restrictive or closed development environments, etc. that severely hamper getting started. Before you can develop a product you need to be able to test your code and circuit, and doing that is very difficult with many embedded families.

          This is an easy way for Intel to gain some market share and branding in this space, and allow as many people (including, perhaps especially young people) to get started building stuff right away.

          • Tess

            I think the key will be the pricing on this. It seems like a cool idea, but Arduino boards are super-affordable, and compatibles like the Teensy 3.0 allow you to scale up in CPU power while still keeping the cost down. If these Intel boards are much more expensive than some of the entry level and compatible boards, I think it’s going to be tough to build a large base of enthusiasts.

            (Unless, of course, there’s a killer app for them that can’t be done nearly as well by another board. Not that I have any idea what it would be.)

          • Jay Melican

            Jay from Intel here. Regarding pricing…. The Intel Galilieo board will be available by the end of November for under US $60.

  • Harold

    I am interested in buying a Linux home computer for learning Linux and research. Could these new boards be used for such purposes – could I connect a monitor, keyboard and mouse and create a web server for example?

    • Matt Richardson

      I would say the best board for you would be Raspberry Pi, which was designed as a learning computer. While the Galileo and Tre are technically computers, they’re more geared for physical projects. The Galileo doesn’t have a monitor output for example and the TRE has a lot of features that you probably don’t need for learning Linux (though you CAN connect a KB, monitor, and mouse to use it).

    • Paul Stoffregen

      Harold, if you’re looking for a desktop Linux computer, do yourself a huge favor: simply use a real PC. Even a very cheap used computer (often available for free), or almost any PC made within the next 5 years, will be vastly more satisfying than a Raspberry Pi, or Beaglebone, or this Intel Galileo. You really want at least 1 to 2 gigabytes of RAM and at least a normal hard drive for a modern Linux desktop. The 0.5 GB RAM and slow SD cards (optimized for camera writing files sequentially and terribly slow for random accesses made by general computing) on these little boards are good for dedicated projects, and with the GPU on the Raspberry Pi it works well for a media player. But as a desktop computer, it’s quite painfully slow, even if you run the minimal distros that have very limited software.

    • Richard

      I would explore the discussions at element14 dot com. Your best bet might be the beaglebone black at beagleboard dot org because the community is quite large. By the way, the Beagle folks are going to come out with an Arduino collaboration of their own in the first 1/2 of 2014. For Linux use, I wouldn’t be a pioneer with Intel Galileo given that Intel has had one major failing in supporting the Atom Cedar Trail PowerVR graphics (GMA 500/600/3600/3650).

  • Grumpy Mike (Mike Cook)

    I am at the Rome Maker Faire and got given one free. The CEO of Intel says he was watching a presentation of something done with an Arduino and offered the guy doing it a below cost price, and even free if he would switch to Intel. The guy refused saying the Arduino community support was worth more. So Intel made the decision that they had to buy into the community and they have thrown money at it. They gave away about 400 free as we left the theater, I got one but nothing will compile on it and despite the CEO saying it was all open source the conditions you have to sign up to on down load of the non working software are dire.

  • tonyv

    I think the price will be the make-or-break factor for these boards. If they aren’t around <$75 each, they may as well give up now. People here seemed really uninterested in the $200 Intel-based MinnowBoard announced a few days ago — it's cool, but is just too expensive.

  • Phillip Muniz

    I work for Mouser Electronics and we now have the Intel Galileo available for pre-order on our website. We’ll be getting the first shipments of stock in mid-November.


    • Richard

      CPU: 400MHz 32-bit
      RAM: 512 KBytes of on-die embedded SRAM

      That doesn’t sound like a great performer for a generic motherboard. I guess it depends what you are going to use this board for. Keep in mind that unlike many other motherboards, the CPU and RAM are *not* upgradable.

      Anyone going to try Galileo with Linux? With only 0.5GB, you might see significant swapping. Be sure to create a sufficient swap device during installation.

      Good luck.

  • Ed Doodler

    Yes I am excited about the Galileo, I will have one on order, I hear Jan 16th is the day, I will post my finding and reviews on which is dedicated to Arduino and SBC linux boards.