$30 Gets You the Sensor-Packed, Curie-Powered Arduino 101

Arduino Education Maker News Technology
 Gets You the Sensor-Packed, Curie-Powered Arduino 101


ROME — Today at the Rome Maker Faire, Intel and Arduino are announcing a new board, the Arduino 101, powered by the Intel Curie module. It is scheduled to be available in the first quarter of 2016, at about $30.

(Outside of the U.S., Arduino is known as Genuino.)

Thanks to technology in the Curie, the Arduino 101 will have a 6-axis accelerometer with a gyroscope, and the hardware for Bluetooth wireless communication, in addition to the familiar input and output capabilities of the classic Arduino UNO.

Together, Intel and Arduino plan to use the cobranded board to promote their initiative, Arduino 101 in the Classroom, a computer science and design curriculum aimed at educating 11–14 year old students in emerging technologies. The Arduino 101 will also be the hardware configuration of the Currie that contestants will use during Intel and Turner Broadcasting System’s upcoming reality television show America’s Greatest Makers.

Arduino 101


The Arduino 101 will look familiar to current Arduino users, as it retains the familiar 70mm×55mm×20mm form factor of the Arduino UNO. However, close inspection of the circuit board reveals an on-board antenna (note the bottom right corner on the image above) and a new main processor, a low-power, 32-bit Intel Quark microcontroller known as the Curie module. What differentiates this particular Quark, however, is the on-die 6-axis accelerometer/gyro and the Bluetooth communication hardware.

Programming the Arduino 101 is exactly the same process as programming an Arduino UNO. Using the Arduino IDE, you write your code, compile it, and upload it to your board. Intel is also providing special libraries to let programmers utilize the Curie module’s unique features, such as the accelerometer with gyroscope and Bluetooth. It is unclear the level of software support for these features at product launch, but expect Intel to continually improve the software experience.

Intel Curie Module

Two Intel Curie modules, the clear tape on the left is standard width Scotch tape
Two Intel Curie modules, the clear tape on the left is standard width Scotch tape


When we first saw the Curie at CES this year, Intel had packaged it on tiny, button-sized module that we assumed would be marketed as a board for wearable projects. As far as we know now, that module is not scheduled for release. The Curie-powered Arduino is a new direction for this technology.

It’s a new go-to-market strategy for Intel; a previous system-on-chip, the Edison, was packaged by Intel itself, and Intel also made accessory boards for it (Sparkfun made accessory boards for the Edison as well).


Intel and Arduino

This is not the first collaboration between Intel and Arduino. Nearly two years ago, also during Maker Faire Rome, Intel and Arduino announced the Intel Galileo, a microcontroller board with Arduino-compatible headers. Like the Edison, the Galileo was Arduino-certified. The Curie-powered Arduino 101, though, is a co-branded venture with Arduino. It doesn’t need certification. It is an Arduino, and could be more attractive to the Arduino community because of that.

Arduino Gets Its Way

Prior to the release of the Arduino 101, the specifications for the Curie indicated its power requirements were only 1.8V, a common voltage for a coin cell battery. Technically, the power requirements remain the same for the Curie module. However, the power requirements dictated by the Arduino ecosystem require at least 3.3V to properly power the I/O. Dictated by the collaborative nature of the project, the Arduino 101 design does not allow the Curie to be powered by a coin cell battery.

Another change: The Curie module is known to have a 128-node neural network, which can be used for machine-learning applications. But software support for that technology is not shipping at this time. Intel says it will be supported later.

Beyond these two differences, the Curie module has nearly identical specs to the product announced at CES.

David Cuartielles presenting Episode 1: Processing (Part III) screengrab via CTC
David Cuartielles presenting Episode 1: Processing (Part III) screengrab via CTC

Arduino 101 in the Classroom

The final aspect of the partnership is Intel’s marketing of Arduino co-founder David Cuartielles’ Creative Technologies in the Classroom (CTC). The courseware will be updated to reflect the new capabilities of the Arduino 101, like Bluetooth. Previously, the curriculum used the Arduino UNO to playfully teach students age 11–14 (though it’s really appropriate for anyone) basic skills in programming, electronics, and mechanical design. While little-known in the United States, CTC is used in 125 schools worldwide, reaching approximately 3,500 students. Intel’s push could help this curriculum land in thousands of schools world-wide.

15 thoughts on “$30 Gets You the Sensor-Packed, Curie-Powered Arduino 101

  1. Atul Yadav says:

    Would it be open source hardware….mean , can anyone create clone of these ? ( I am not sure, so asking this)
    I mean in developing world clones are better for education…..as those are cost effective.

    1. alrui says:

      Because $30 is to much? Really….

      1. Casey881 says:

        For what the hardware actually is, yes. It is absolutely too much. There are better products for less money. And there are way better products for just slightly more.

        1. gryntelyder says:


          This device does a lot of stuff, which can defend the hefty price tag, but that being said, a decent MCU with Wifi connectivity can now be had for about $2.00-2.50 (the ESP8266). And if you buy the sensors and assorted chips directly and in small batches, you cat get things very cheaply.

          For developing countries $30 is a *lot* of money. Especially since you can get a low-end smart phone for not that much more money. Which has a ton of additional goodies.

          1. alrui says:

            $30 is for the Arduino 101 board, not just the Currie chip.

          2. gryntelyder says:

            Yes, and the $2.0-$2.50 price is for a board.

            Admittedly a board that has far less stuff on it than the 101, but it wasn’t that long ago an Arduino equivalent of a typical ESP8266 board would have cost you somewhere north of $80-100 (Arduino + WiFi shield).


  2. Paul says:

    I wonder if this PCB uses a filled or plugged via process? The solder mask looks perfectly flat on all the vias, not even the slightest hint there’s a hole in the center. I wonder how they accomplished that?

  3. Ben Dyson says:

    From my limited knowledge, because it’s an Intel product I would imagine it’s now an ?x86 architecture with instruction set? Would this support programming in assembler? How would I get started with programming assembler on a chip on a breadboard?

  4. Demetri says:

    Curious on how this will compare with the Zero (performance wise).

  5. cvbruce says:

    And they still kept the USB Type A(?) connector. Oh Joy.

    1. Jason Malvuccio says:

      it’s for durability

    2. Arthur F Lange says:

      the USB Type A will allow me to use some of those old cables lying around
      that have little other use.

  6. Casey881 says:

    A successor to the Uno that operates with 3.3 volt GPIOs. That makes no sense. And many of the added features just seem out of place. And now Intel has been allowed in the mix. I am beginning to wonder if the project lost the brains of the opperation to Arduino SRL.

    1. Gspin says:

      When i first read thet 4mA, i was like “no, it must be a typo”, especially considering that the UNO handles 50mA at that same voltage. You barely even power a damn LED with 4mA (really, 0.004A*3.3V=0,013W)
      Also, they took 2 PWM outputs away D:

  7. Asterion Daedalus says:


    Sounds great, but a like a significant number of suckers, I have sent mine back for refund as there appears a batch that will not upload *.bin files or upload firmware.

    I even got hold of the Intel Curie factory flash kit and even it would not see the board.

    Same problem on two different computers, on same USB ports that, with same cables, that will happily program AVR style boards.

    No one, Intel or Arduino community, was able to solve the problem.

    Whether it is dud batch of Curie, problems with driver compatibility with Windows (although similar problem reported by some on Linux) it was unuseable.

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I love to tinker and write about electronics. My days are spent building projects and working as a Technical Editor for MAKE.

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