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Arduino compatible Galileo SBC runs Linux on Intel Quark

Oct 3, 2013 — by Rick Lehrbaum 10,919 views

Intel ramped up its race to the bottom against ARM today, with the launch of an Arduino-compatible single board computer (SBC) based on its new Quark system-on-chip (SoC), and supported with a full Linux OS. In conjunction with the Galileo launch, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said Intel will donate 50,000 Galileo SBCs to 1,000 universities worldwide over the next 18 months.

The Galileo SBC is based on Intel’s new Quark X1000 SoC, which integrates a 32-bit, single core, single threaded, Pentium ISA-compatible CPU, and runs at clock rates up to 400MHz. Intel rolled out its low-end Quark processor architecture at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco last month.

Quark X1000 SoC

Intel says the Galileo SBC “combines the performance of Intel technology and the ease of the Arduino software development environment.” The company adds that Galileo is just “the first in a line of Arduino-compatible development boards based on Intel architecture and is designed for the maker and education communities.”


Intel says the Galileo SBC is both hardware- and software- compatible with “shields” (expansion boards) designed for the Arduino Uno R3 SBC.

Intel Galileo SBC, front and back
(click image to enlarge)

Specifically, pins 0-13, AREF, GND, Analog inputs 0-5, the power header and ICSP headers, the UART port are in the same locations as on the Arduino Uno R3, making the Galileo “Arduino 1.0 pinout” compatible. Additionally, the board supports both 3.3V or 5V shields, as selected by an onboard jumper.

In addition to its compatibility with Arduino’s development environment, Galileo adds a raft of new capabilities, including a full-sized mini-PCI Express slot, 100Mb Ethernet, a Micro-SD slot, RS-232 serial ports, USB Host and Client ports, 8MB NOR flash storage, and more.

In place of the Arduino Yun SBC’s approach of running Linux on a secondary onboard microprocessor — the somewhat esoteric 400MHz MIPS-architecture CPU that happens to reside inside its Atheros AR9331 WiFi module — Galileo’s Quark-based design offers a simpler architecture with full Pentium ISA compatibility and mainstream Linux support.

Galileo hardware and software diagrams
(click images to enlarge)

The Galileo SBC is supported with an open source Linux OS that includes the Arduino software libraries, “enabling scalability and re-use of existing software, called ‘sketches’,” says Intel. Currently, Intel has created two versions of Linux for the board: “the default is a small Linux. If you add an SD card to your kit, you can add a more fully-featured Linux,” says Intel. The board can be programmed from Windows, Mac OS, and Linux host computers.

Galileo specifications

Specifications listed in Intel’s Galileo datasheet include the following:

  • Processor — Intel Quark X1000 SoC @ 400MHz:
    • 1.9 to 2.2W TDP (depending on operating voltage)
    • 32-bit Intel Pentium-compatible ISA
    • Supports ACPI sleep states
  • Memory:
    • 512KB embedded SRAM
    • 256MB DRAM
  • Storage:
    • 8MB legacy SPI NOR flash (for firmware/bootloader and latest sketch storage)
    • Micro SD slot — supports up to 32GB
    • 11KB EEPROM
  • 10/100 Ethernet port (RJ45)
  • USB:
    • USB 2.0 Host port
    • USB Client port (used for programming)
  • USB 2.0 Host interface (supported on mini-PCIe connector)
  • 10-pin JTAG port
  • Other I/O — RS-232 serial port; 14x GPIO (6x are PWM outputs); 6x analog inputs
  • Expansion:
    • SDIO slot
    • Arduino 1.0 pinout shield expansion
    • PCI Express mini-card slot (PCIe 2.0 compliant)
  • RTC — onboard battery option
  • Buttons:
    • Reboot button for processor restart
    • Reset button for resetting sketch and attached shields
  • Power — +5 VDC @ 3A max (via 2.1mm diameter jack)
  • Dimensions — 100 x 70mm (not including USB, UART, Ethernet, and power connector extensions beyond the board outline)

“We’re thrilled to be working with Intel and to having the performance of Intel technology for the first time in our development boards,” stated Massimo Banzi, founder of the Arduino community. “I look forward to our collaboration and believe that our work together will produce some fantastic development vehicles that help foster some very exciting innovations.”

“Through our ongoing efforts in education, we know that hands-on learning inspires interest in science, technology, engineering and math,” stated Krzanich. “I’ve been a ‘maker’ for many years and am passionate about the exciting possibilities of technology and what can be created with it. We look forward to a productive collaboration with Arduino and to providing this community with some incredible Intel products that will help push the boundaries of our imaginations.”

Intel says the new Galileo SBC will be available “on or about” November 29 from distributors such as Mouser, Avnet, Arrow, and Ingram, and at Maker Shed. Further information is available at the Intel Galileo board web page.

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6 responses to “Arduino compatible Galileo SBC runs Linux on Intel Quark”

  1. Mike Anderson says:

    Hi Rick,

    Sorry to say, but this article has several corrections in order. What the Intel board is comparing itself to is the Arduino Yun — not the Uno. The Uno has an ATmega328P only and no MIPS-based platform. The Yun has the ATmega32U4 running the standard Arduino bootloader and an Atheros AR9331 400MHz MIPS platform running the OpenWRT Linux distro.

    It is a cool thought that the Intel board will have compatibility with the Arduino IDE and Arduino shields. It will be interesting to see how successful the Intel folks are at really pulling this off.



  2. Phillip Muniz says:

    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.


  3. rasz_pl says:

    > In place of the Arduino Yun SBC’s approach of running Linux on a secondary onboard microprocessor — the somewhat esoteric 400MHz MIPS-architecture CPU

    what? Is it esoteric because you are ignorant of cpu design? or because you are ignorant of Linux? or because it doesnt run windows (funnily enough it did at one point)? You do realize both mips and x86 archs were born over 30 years ago?

    > that happens to reside inside its Atheros AR9331 WiFi module — Galileo’s Quark-based design offers a simpler architecture with full Pentium ISA compatibility and mainstream Linux support.

    Yes, its as simple as x86 cores in Intel Larabee/Xeon Phi/Knights corner/whatever they decide to be the name this year and that means they are NON STANDARD and will force heavy software rewrites. There is nothing simple about x86, in fact its opposite of simple and fores all 30 years of dirty hacks and baggage. Unless of course you really need those sweet assembly BCD opcodes because you need to support 50 year old code, not to mention Virtual 8086 mode. Good times …

    cpu ISA doesnt mean anything, Intel using 2x the power while being 4x as expensive as AR9331 while not providing Wifi is important

    • david says:

      Ok you got my attention. This is my second visit to read your comments. I think that it would be better if you made a reccomendation rather than just trashing this one. I have no idea what may make Linux better both before and after reading your post. I think Linux and GNU are also dated and as I recall they ran on x86. It seems to me that you have a better solution in mind in lieu of the Galileo… but what?

  4. Gerald Paxton says:

    I just received 2 Gallileo boards to replace Arduino Uno boards on heliostat controllers, the 12 bit a/d increases resolution by 4 times, and the rtc is a big plus. 20 years ago similar capabilities on the STD bus cost me $6000+. As a forth programmer, I resisted the Java environment, but since there are no interrupt driven real time routines, why not?

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