Intel, Arduino Partner on Quark-Based Galileo Board

The development board is announced the same time Texas Instruments unveils a new ARM-based chip for Arduino systems.

Intel executives, just weeks after announcing the new Quark line of low-power processors, are introducing the first system to run on the chips.

Intel executives on Oct. 3 introduced Galileo, a development board created with open-source hardware maker Ardiuno and aimed at do-it-yourself device makers and educational institutions. The idea is to put the Galileo board into the hands of “makers” who will be able to use it in a range of systems. That includes students and researchers at various educational institutions around the world.

“I’ve been a maker for many years and am passionate about the exciting possibilities of technology and what can be created with it,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said in a statement. “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."

The Galileo announcement came the same day that Texas Instruments unveiled that its Sitara AM335x chip, based on ARM’s Cortex-A8 design, will power Arduino’s newest board, the Tre, which will offer up to 100 times the performance of Arduino’s Leonardo or Uno boards.

Krzanich announced the Quark line of systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) Sept. 10 during the Intel Developer Forum (IDF). Like the Xeon, Core and Atom chip families, Quark will be based on the x86 architecture. However, it will be smaller than the low-power Atom SoCs, which are being used in everything from smartphones to tablets to low-power microservers.

The CEO said during IDF that the Quark chips will be aimed at the Internet of Things and wearable devices, and will be one-fifth the size of Atom SoCs and consume one-tenth of the power. However, the first boards powered by Quark chips—in this case, the Quark X1000, a 32-bit single-core, single-thread system based on the Pentium instruction set architecture and running at speeds up to 400MHz—will be aimed at the maker community and educational institutions.

Intel officials said makers will be able to use the development board to design prototypes for everything from LED light displays that respond to social media to automating home appliances—which would be part of the Internet of Things—to building life-size robots controlled by a smartphone.

The chip maker will donate 50,000 of the Galileo boards to 1,000 universities worldwide over the next 18 months.

Galileo marks the first Arduino offering running on Intel technology, according to Massimo Banzi, founder of the Arduino community. The development board will run a Linux operating system that comes with Aruino software libraries, and will be able to be programmed through Apple’s Mac OS, Microsoft’s Windows and Linux host operating systems. It also will be compatible with Arduino’s shield ecosystem.

The development board will be available by the end of November. Intel has created Websites to find out where to buy Galileo and learn more about it.

For its part, Texas Instruments officials said the Sitara-powered Tre will be available in the spring of 2014. Because of the performance enhancements brought on by the SoC, the Tre will be able to leverage all capabilities of Linux and expand the on-board connectivity options, including Ethernet USB and XBee wireless radios, according to TI officials.

The Tre will be able to work as a network hub connecting to millions of Arduino nodes, which will contribute to the development of the Internet of Things, where millions of systems—from automobiles to home appliances to manufacturing systems—are connected to the Internet, communicating with people and other machines.