The Intel Edison is a small system-on-module (SOM) with a dual-core 500MHz Atom main processor and an onboard Quark microcontroller (MCU) operating at 100MHz – this MCU enables real-time processing capabilities. Unlike most development boards the module offers Wi-Fi, Bluetooth low energy, and comes with 4GB of eMMC storage that ships with a flavor of Yocto-built Linux.
System-on-modules are small computers, but require carrier boards to operate or expose usable input and output pins. In the case of the Edison module, Intel offers two different carrier board options: one large board with Arduino R3 header pin configuration, and a second with a smaller form factor that breaks out every pin of the Edison SOM.
While there are third-party carrier boards for the Edison module it’s wise to stick to the Intel offerings when starting out. Of the two Intel options, we recommend the Arduino-friendly carrier board for beginners.