Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said that Intel recognized the value of the Arduino platform and the maker community and decided to forge partnerships that will be valuable to both makers and the future of Intel. “We chose to adopt it, not co-opt it,” said Krzanich of embracing open source hardware and the maker community. The Intel announcement does for open source hardware what IBM once did to recognize and legitimize open source software.

Along with Arduino CEO Massimo Banzi on stage with me at the Conference for Maker Faire Rome, Krzanich announced a development partnership that will produce a line of Arduino-compatible boards that use Intel architecture. The new Galileo board, which was designed in Ireland in just 60 days, will be available in November. Galilleo will be first distributed widely in education, starting off with a free distribution of 50,000 Galileo later this year. Boards were distributed to attendees at the conference and they will be available over the weekend to selected attendees.

“We want to be part of the Arduino ecosystems and maker community for two reasons,” said Intel CEO Brian Krzanich in an interview following the on-stage announcement. “One was the pure innovation we see happening in the maker community around open source hardware and we needed to be part of that innovation. Second, we saw that, in education, engineers and others were learning on non-Intel platforms and we wanted to change that, and in doing so, give them more capabilities.”

Krzanich has been CEO for about six months, after a 30-year career with Intel spent largely in the factory. “Intel is full of makers,” he said. They recently had 300 Intel employees register to receive the Galileo boards. He said that Intel is planning to organize its own internal Maker Faire to learn about projects that employees are doing.

Krzanich’s own interest in Arduino was piqued when an outside developer told him about his product development project, and Krzanich asked him why he was using Arduino instead of an Intel board. Even when Krzanich offered to make Intel products available to him at low cost or no cost, the developer said he valued the Maker community and the Arduino platform and he wasn’t willing to switch. Members of Krzanich’s team reached out to Massimo Banzi and they forged a partnership to develop the Galileo board and work together on future projects. Banzi said that he’s glad to have more resources and the scale of Intel to help the Arduino platform continue to develop new capabilities and reach new audiences.

Krzanich said that the Galileo board was developed using a new process for making boards by Intel. “All the silicon is sythesizable,” said Krzanich. What he means by synthesizable is that the board is completely represented in software. “As you change the software, you change the hardware itself. This means that Intel has greater flexibility in deciding and producing boards at scale, and that will benefit the Arduino community.” He believes that Intel’s involvement will benefit the maker community. “There’s a lot of innovation in this space that Intel can do,” he said. “We can build using a very small form factor, if necessary, allowing makers to put Arduino inside almost anything. That means a lot of compute capability in a very small space.”

Krzanich said that he believes open source hardware is important for Intel, and it will play a big role in the future of hardware innovation. He said that software companies were once skeptical of open source software but many now see it as an important source of innovation. Intel believes that if the Galileo board helps Intel engage with makers, then “they will help us design the next board,” he added.