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Intel unveils second generation Galileo hacker SBC

Jul 16, 2014 — by Rick Lehrbaum 9,348 views

Intel announced an updated, slightly larger “Galileo Gen 2” version of its Arduino-compatible Galileo SBC, and expects to start shipping it in August.

Intel unveiled the original Galileo SBC last October, and said it would donate 50,000 Galileo SBCs to 1,000 universities worldwide over the next 18 months. The $60 Galileo SBC is the low-end member of Intel’s small family of hacker SBCs, with the $199 MinnowBoard and $99 MinnowBoard Max occupying the senior sibling positions.

Like the original Galileo SBC, the Galileo Gen 2 uses Intel’s Internet of Things (IoT) focused Quark X1000 SoC (shown at the right), which integrates a 32-bit, single core, single threaded, Pentium ISA-compatible CPU, and runs at clock rates up to 400MHz. In contrast, the MinnowBoards are built around full-fledged Atom processors — single- or dual-core 64-bit E3800 (Bay Trail-I) SoCs clocked at 1.46 or 1.33GHz respectively, in the case of the Max.

Original Galileo (left) vs. Galileo Gen 2 (right)
(click images to enlarge)

In a July 14 blog post, Michael Bell, corporate vice president and general manager of the Intel’s New Devices Group, wrote: “You may have heard me drop hints about it at MakerCon in May… and now we’re excited to update you that the first Intel Galileo Gen 2 boards have started to roll off the production line.”


What’s new with Gen 2?

Intel implemented the following changes to the Galileo Gen 2 design, relative to the original Galileo SBC:

  • 12 GPIOs are now “fully native,” for faster speed and greater signal drive
  • PWM now offers 12-bit resolution, for more precise servo control
  • The USB Host port is now a Type A connector instead of a micro-USB connector
  • A 6-pin TTL UART header (compatible with FTDI USB converters) replaces the earlier board’s 3.5mm RS-232 console debug port; the new connector mates with standard adapters
  • Console UART1 can be redirected to Arduino headers in sketches, which can eliminate the need for “soft-serial”
  • Now operates from either 7-15VDC input power or via optional 12V PoE, which has been added to the 10/100 Ethernet port (requires optional PoE module)

Feature locations: Galileo (left) vs. Galileo Gen 2 (right)
(click images to enlarge)

Importantly, the new board is 27.5 percent larger than the original (124 x 72mm vs. 100 x 70mm), and has incompatible mounting holes and connector locations. So it won’t be a trivial drop-in replacement for the earlier board in many applications. On the other hand, it’s nearly identical in most respects.

A more detailed look at some of the differences between the two boards can be found in the two block diagrams below.

Block diagrams: Galileo (left) vs. Galileo Gen 2 (right)
(click images to enlarge)

Those thirsting for an even deeper comparison of the two boards can satisfy their desire by downloading the boards’ schematics from these Intel pages: Galileo Gen 2; original Galileo.

Galileo basics

Intel touts the Galileo SBCs as combining “the performance of Intel technology and the ease of the Arduino software development environment.” When it introduced the original Galileo, the company stated that it was “just the first in a line of Arduino-compatible development boards based on Intel architecture” that were “designed for the maker and education communities.”

Intel says its Galileo SBCs are both hardware- and software-compatible with “shields” (expansion boards) designed for the Arduino Uno R3 SBC. 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 SBC’s “Arduino 1.0 pinout” compatible. Additionally, the boards support both 3.3V or 5V shields, as selected by an onboard jumper.

On top of their compatibility with Arduino 1.0 shields and the Arduino development environment, the Galileo SBCs add features such as a full-sized mini-PCIe slot, 10/100 Ethernet, Micro-SD slots, serial ports, and USB 2.0 Host and Client ports.

Galileo software architecture
(click images to enlarge)

The Galileo SBCs are 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 boards can be programmed from Windows, Mac OS, and Linux host computers. The boards are currently supported with a Yocto 1.4 “Poky” Linux release, according to Intel.

Both boards are “open source hardware” designs, with schematics, Cadence Allegro board files, and bills of materials “freely available for download,” says Intel.

Summary of Galileo Gen 2 specs

Intel lists the following specifications for Galileo Gen 2 in the SBC’s product brief.

  • Processor — Intel Quark X1000 SoC @ 400MHz:
    • 32-bit Pentium-compatible ISA
    • 1.9 to 2.2W TDP (depending on operating voltage)
    • 32-bit Intel Pentium-compatible ISA
    • Supports ACPI sleep states
  • Memory:
    • 512KB embedded SRAM (in Quark SoC)
    • 256MB DDR3 DRAM
  • Storage:
    • 8MB legacy SPI NOR flash (for firmware/bootloader)
    • 8KB EEPROM (programmable via utilities)
    • Micro SD slot — supports up to 32GB
    • Supports USB 2.0 storage devices
  • 10/100 Ethernet (RJ45; supports Power-over-Ethernet)
  • USB:
    • USB 2.0 Host port (Type A)
    • USB 2.0 Client port (micro-USB, Type B)
  • 10-pin JTAG port
  • Other I/O:
    • 6-pin console UART (compatible with FTDI USB converters)
    • 6-pin ICSP
  • Arduino-compatible expansion headers, containing:
    • 20x GPIOs (12 fully native speed)
    • 6x analog inputs
    • 6x PWMs with 12-bit resolution
    • 1x SPI master
    • 2x UARTs (one shared with console UART)
    • 1x I2C master
  • Mini-PCIe expansion — 1x slot (with USB 2.0 Host support)
  • RTC — onboard battery option
  • Buttons:
    • Reset button for resetting sketch and attached shields (resets Ethernet)
    • Reboot button for processor restart
  • Power:
    • 7-15VDC input jack (consumption not currently specified)
    • Supports Power-over-Ethernet (requires PoE module)
    • Optional 3V coin cell battery for standby power
  • Dimensions — 123.8 x 72.0mm (not including real-world port extensions beyond the board outline)

Further information

Intel currently has not listed pricing for the Galileo Gen 2, but it’s likely to be priced around the original version’s $60 level. Further details are available at Intel’s Galileo Gen 2 product page and from the Galileo Gen 2 documentation page.

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