back to article The life of Pi: Intel to give away Arduino-friendly 'Galileo' tiny-puter

Intel is now actively attempting to recruit the maker community to aid it in its battle against ARM. Today at a major gathering of European hardware hackers in Rome, the chip giant announced it has cooked up a Raspberry Pi-style board computer with the blessing of Arduino. The computer is called the Galileo and it sports a …


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  1. Scott Broukell

    Memory lane

    As a youngster I enjoyed building very simple circuits with the older (or should that be antique), Bread-Board style electronics kits, the ones which came with a printed resistor color-guide (very handy). I later graduated to Varistrip boards, IC sockets and soldering irons, which was a huge step forward. I am gobsmacked at today's equivalent Learn & Play technology. I really ought to spend less time at the Derby & Joan club tea dances and get on with a miss spent golden age. Ah! the memories - time for a beer.

    1. stu 4

      Re: Memory lane

      Yup, as a kid I dreamed of being able to readily be able to build stuff you had thought up as easily as you can now.

      I have been an arduino junky for a year or so now - you cannae beat em - get em off ebay for 2 quid for an arduino mini pro about the size of 2 10p pieces and you have all the power and IO you need to do pretty much anything you can think of.

      Last weekend, I made a sous vide from a 10 quid slow cooker, temp sensor, 240v relay and an arduino.

      This weekend I'm gonna automate my house blinds with a few little motors and servos and arduinos.

      (I also fly quadcopters based around arduinos though I didn't program them!)

      I'd put arduino up there with 3d printing as one of the new disruptive technologies out there.

      If you've not tried arduino I'd urge you to give it a try - All you need to get started is an arduino nano from ebay for 6 quid - that comes with usb and cable - plug it in and get coding. digital in/out, analogue in/out, serial comms, PWM, etc, etc.

  2. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Two stools

    So what is it?

    It runs "sketches", so is it a more powerful (overly-powerful) Arduino competitor with rather high power requirements

    It's got an x86 instruction set, 256MB of DDR3 RAM and PCI, so is it a PC - no mention of windows or Linux

    It seems to me to fall between both.

    If you're just going to run embedded code with no O/S, there are better, smaller, (probably) cheaper and less power-hungry ways of doing it. If you are going to boot an O/S, there are smaller, more powerful, more capable (e.g. the dual-core 1GHz/1GB, SATA Cubieboard2) and (possibly) cheaper alternatives for that, too.

    With either of these propositions, it's going to be the user created support that makes or breaks it. I wonder if anyone would port BeOS/Haiku to it?

    1. Vincent Ballard

      Re: Two stools

      256MB of RAM seems to be wishful misreading. It seems to actually give you less than 9MB.

      1. Jordan Davenport

        Re: Two stools

        According to their product brief, this thing does indeed have 256MB DRAM.

    2. Schultz

      Re: Two stools

      The great thing with Arduino is that you can completely control (and understand) the software running on it. There is no operating system or any hidden processes interfering with your programming. As a result, things like communication protocols or real-time data acquisition become trivial. If the Galileo works in a similar fashion and doesn't just emulate the Arduino in software, then it would be a great addition. The description on the Arduino website doesn't really specify much.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Two stools

        "The great thing with Arduino is that you can completely control (and understand) the software running on it. There is no operating system or any hidden processes interfering with your programming."

        Welcome back to 1980. 6809 (or 6502 for dweebs) assembler.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Two stools

          "Welcome back to 1980. 6809 (or 6502 for dweebs) assembler."

          Or, indeed, Z80.

          Where's Rodney Zaks when you need him?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Where's Rodney Zaks when you need him?"

            He must be dead, he's not on LinkedIn. [Actually, unless things have changed, being dead doesn't seem to stop you being on LinkedIn. Maybe they have an "account removed if not accessed for x months" mechanism now?]

            Personally I rather hope Mt Zaks is enjoying a happy retirement, or whatever he fancies.

            Have a nice weekend, everyone.

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge

              Re: "Where's Rodney Zaks when you need him?"

              Well, April this year he was present at the opening of the Seattle Living Computer Museum, during which he didn't appear to be dead at all.

      2. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Two stools

        If the Galileo works in a similar fashion and doesn't just emulate the Arduino in software, then it would be a great addition.

        The GPIO pins are controlled via an I2C I/O expander, with the I2C bus running at standard speed (100kHz). So

        a) there _is_ software inbetween what the sketch assumes is an I/O port and the actual hardware, and

        b) bit-banging will only manage to get you a couple 100Hz at most. which is about 1000 times slower than you'd be able to achieve with a real Arduino.

  3. Wang N Staines

    It won't be cheaper than pi or arduino. I suspect around £150.

    1. James Hughes 1

      $60 apparently, although that may just be rumour.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        400MHZ, single threaded 32 bit with pentium instruction set, why do I have a feeling they have just slapped on a cippled Pentium 2 on it?

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge


          /me waves fist at Reg give me ability to correct my spelling!

        2. Pirate Dave

          next trick

          For their next trick, Intel will come out with a super low-powered chip that lacks dedicated math processing circuitry or support for MMX, but is fully compatible with the 80386 instruction set...

          Does make me wonder - how small could intel make a 386DX these days? I'd think it could be teeny-tiny.

          1. returnmyjedi

            Get it to run Tie Fighter and Day of the Tentacle and I'll buy that for a dollar.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        $60 apparently, although that may just be rumour.

        For about $18 including delivery one can get a TP-Link TP403 which is a roughly equivalent ARM board that comes in a nice plastic case and will run off a micro USB phone charger. That's the full commercial price for single quantity. And it's already well supported by a mature binary package Linux distro. No PCIe slot and you would have to break out the soldering iron if you need the GPIO, but it does have on board WiFi.

        1. Random Coolzip

          ISTR I paid about US$10 for an MSP430 development board. It's only sixteen bits at 16MHz, but it idles on 1 uA and has 16K of Flash and an 8-channel 10-bit ADC. Also sports a decent compliment of analog and digital I/O pins, and I've had no trouble using Arduino accessories with it. It won't run Linux, but it's chump change, so even if you just play with it for a couple of evenings and wind up sticking it in the back of a drawer it's still worth it.

  4. Parax

    5v 3A

    So not a mobile phone charger (5v1A) like Pi and Beagle then.. just another item for the cons list.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: 5v 3A

      Yeah. I'd see it as a non-mobile device competitor or even functional product if they could confirm Linux/Windows support. But for that I'd prefer ~1Ghz for performance.

      At £60 1ghz Intel (windows compatible) pc on a board could have it's place in the market. As a "different" programmable board to the pi. Not mobile, but still flexible.

      But the pi seems to do so many things better (chip speed, ram, connectivity) and cheaper, and on a lower power requirement. So I see little this intel offering can... offer!

    2. Peter Simpson 1

      Re: 5v 3A

      A bit piggish with the power, innit?

      No heatsink shown, though.

      Wonder if I'll be able to pick the chips up at Digikey?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 5v 3A

        15 watts, it'll *need* a heat sink.

  5. Steve Todd

    Intel didn't seem to know what they were building

    The IO ports are connected via I2C, so they are going to be slow and you only get 20 of them (including the 6 analog ports). There is no video port and it's light on RAM. Performance wise it gets completely trashed by the likes of the Cubbieboard or the UDOO. The UDOO also trashes it on the IO front, having a full Arduino Due on the board allowing for 74 IOs, each directly connected to the processor, plus gigabit Ethernet and WiFi.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Intel didn't seem to know what they were building

      Oh, and it needs 3 amps! I don't know what does the equivalent Arduino Due uses, but the Beaglebone Black is under 1A and the Arduino-alikes I use (Atmega or Arm based) are all about 25mA excluding I/O.

      Proof, if you needed it, that Intel don't do embedded well.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Intel didn't seem to know what they were building

        At least it doesn't need a fan ;-)

      2. Grumpy_Mike

        Re: Intel didn't seem to know what they were building

        "Oh, and it needs 3 amps! "

        Why do you post things you know nothing of?

        I got one this morning at the Rome Maker Faire. Yes the power supply is rated at 3A but the whole thing can run of the USB power. So that 2.5W max.

        "that Intel don't do embedded well"

        I would agree with that but get your facts right.

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: Intel didn't seem to know what they were building

          "The recommended output rating of the power adapter is 5V, 3 Amp." - from

          I'm aware that what it draws is - usually - likely less than 3A, but in my experience if you design a system that supplys 500mA to a device that the manufacturer recommends should be given 3A, you're in for a nasty ride.

          1. Stu

            Re: Intel didn't seem to know what they were building


            Chances are it claims 2 to 3A when it begins doing some serious number crunching, relatively speaking.

            It may idle at 2.5w or whatever, but throw some work at it and BOOM.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "32-bit, single-core, single-thread CPU compatible with the Pentium instruction set"

    Is it a Pentium II?

  7. Jim Cownie 1

    FAQs are available

    There are more details on the Intel site at

    If you look at the FAQs there you can see that it runs Linux.

    (Disclaimer: I work for Intel, but not on this project).

    -- Jim

    1. Lars Silver badge

      Re: FAQs are available

      Is there anything that does not run Linux.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: FAQs are available @Lars

        "Is there anything that does not run Linux."

        PIC Microcontrollers? Mid-range at least. I wouldn't say they're aimed at the needs-an-os market anyway, but it answers your question.

      2. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Is there anything that does not run Linux?

        Mmmmyes. Basically systems not sporting an x86, Power or ARM CPU, or 68k or AXP if you're looking in the past a bit.

        The list of systems not running NetBSD is a fair bit smaller.

  8. Tromos

    The price will make it or break it.

    Sounds like a desirable piece of kit, but so did the MS Surface Pro until you got to the price tag.

    1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: The price will make it or break it.

      That's my fear. At first read I thought it would make a nice Meego IVI for long road trips with the chitlins but I wonder if it has the throat for it and I'm not about to drop a few hundred to find out.

  9. deive

    Sounds kindda like

    I think this ARM version will be much more powerful!

  10. monkeyfish

    Win 98SE

    I've still got a copy, now if I can just hook this thing to a CDROM drive...

  11. Mage Silver badge


    Perpetuation of Ugly x86 Architecture.

  12. Mikel


    15 watts for a Pentium 400MHz? I'll take that.

  13. mIRCat

    We'll be boarding yer chip, me hearties.

    "The price has yet to be set."

    And that's where the battle will be won.

    Yo ho, yo ho...

  14. malle-herbert Silver badge

    I just bought myself one of these :

    It only uses 3 watts, runs @ 1Ghz with 512Mb of memory, and I can install windows or linux on it...

    Oh, and it has an x86 instruction set (with MMX).

    Looks like anything Intel can come up with is already done by someone else... and better too...

    1. Nelbert Noggins

      Re: I just bought myself one of these :

      Um... You appear to have omitted the price?

      It doesn't look like it'll be a cheap thing, which has always been a problem with low power embedded x86ish compatible stuff.

      1. Frank Rysanek

        Re: price of the Vortex-based PC's

        Where I live, the Vortex-based MiniPC's cost around 200 USD (the SX variant is cheaper but less useful).

        An industrial motherboard could cost about the same - maybe more. Depends on form factor, Vortex generation and the board's additional features.

    2. Frank Rysanek

      Re: I just bought myself one of these : (Vortex)

      Exactly. For the few days since the Quark was announced, I've been itching with curiosity, how it compares to the Vortex. And I'll keep on itching for a few more weeks (months?) till I put my hands on the Quark and run nbench on the critter. For the time being, could anyone please publish the contents of /proc/cpuinfo ?

      The Vortex boards typically eat something between 2.5 and 5 Watts (between 500 mA and 1 A from a 5V adaptor) depending on Vortex generation, additional chips on the board, the SSD used and CPU load (and OS power saving capabilities). The 5W is a well equipped Vortex86DX board including Z9s graphics at full throttle. The MX/DX2 reportedly need less power. The Vortex SoC contains a programmable clock divider, you can underclock it to 1/8th of the nominal clock - but the undeclocking doesn't achieve much more than what Linux can achieve at full clock, merely by properly applying HLT when idle.

      I'd expect the Galileo board to have a similar power consumption.

      With switch-mode power supplies (the general cheap stuff on today's market), it's not a good idea to use a PSU or Adaptor whose specced wattage exactly matches your device's consumption. It's advisable to use a PSU that's twice to three times overestimated. Hence perhaps the recommendation to use a 3amp adaptor. Intel knows that these adaptors are crap. You may know them from SoHo WiFi routers/AP's. The router comes with a 2amp adaptor, likely extremely cheap, which only lasts for a year or two, 24/7. Then the elyts bid you farewell. Buy a 3amp adaptor for 10 USD and it will lasts forever.

      Also note that Intel may be hinting that you need to reserve some PSU muscle for some "Arduino IO shields".

      The DX vortex is made using 90nm lithography, not sure about the MX and DX2 (possibly the same). Makes me wonder what Intel could do, with all its x86 know-how, using a 32/22nm process. Run a 386 at 10 GHz maybe? I've been wondering about this for years before the Quark got announced, and now I'm puzzled - "so little so late".

      I've been a Vortex fanboy for a few years - specifically, I'm a fan of the boards made by ICOP ( ). Interestingly, I've seen other Vortex-based boards that are not as good, although using the same SoC. BTW, I don't think even the MX Vortex has MMX - it's more like an overclocked Cyrix 486, but with a well-behaved TSC and CMPXCHG, so it can run Windows XP (not Windows 7, sadly).

      Vortex86SX and DX didn't have on-chip graphics, but the ICOP portfolio contains boards with or without VGA. ICOP uses an SIS/XGI Volari Z9s with 32 megs of dedicated video RAM, other board makers use different VGA chips, such as an old Lynx3D with 4 megs of video RAM. The Vortex86MX SoC (and the new Vortex86DX2) does have some VGA on chip, possibly not as powerful as the Z9s. The on-chip VGA uses shared memory (steals a few megs of system RAM). I understand that the system RAM on the Vortex chips is only 16 bits wide, which might be a factor in the CPU core's relatively poor performance.

      The Geode has significantly better performance per clock tick than the Vortex86DX. The new DX2 should perform better than the older DX/MX cores (closer to the Geode). I expect the Quark at 400 MHz to be about as fast as an 800MHz Vortex86DX. The "Pascal CRT 200 MHz bug" occurs at around 400 MHz on the Vortex86DX.

      The Vortex SoC traditionally contained a dual-channel parallel IDE controller. This is nowadays still useful for ATA Flash drives of various form factors (including CompactFlash), but to attach some new off-the-shelf spinning rust, you need an active SATA/IDE converter... The new DX2 SoC features a native SATA port. Since I guess Vortex86DX, the second IDE channel can alternatively be configured as an SD controller.

      Since Vortex86SX, the SoC has about 40 GPIO pins - the boards by ICOP typically have 16 GPIO pins on a connector (with ground and a power rail). The DX/MX/DX2 SoC can even run HW-generated PWM on the GPIO pins (each pin has its own individual PWM config). The only thing it's missing for general tinkering is possibly an on-chip multichannel ADC.

      Sice Vortex86SX, the SoC has two EHCI controllers (four ports of USB 2.0 host).

      The MX/DX2 have on-chip HDA (audio).

      All the Vortex SoC's have an on-chip 100Base-TX Ethernet MAC+PHY (the RDC R6040).

      The SX/DX/DX2 have 4+ COM ports, one of them with RS485 auto RX/TX steering capability. (the MX has only 3 COM ports.) All of them have a good old-fashioned LPT (parallel printer port) with EPP/ECP capability, whatever twisted use you may have for that nowadays. Note that all the COM ports and LPT are on chip in the SoC - yet the SoC also has LPC, should the board maker want to expand the legacy stuff with an added SuperIO chip...

      In terms of "system architecture feel", the Vortex reminds me of the 486 era. Simple hardware. Might be useful for realtime control (think of RTAI). There's a full-fledged ISA and a basic PCI (able to serve about 3 external devices). The DX2 has two lanes of PCI-e. The SX/DX/MX (not sure about the DX2) doesn't contain an IO/APIC, which means that it's a bit short of IRQ's, considering all the integrated peripherials. Yet all the integrated peripherials work fairly well. I've seen an odd collision or two: the PXE ROM is defunct if you enable the second EHCI, but both the second EHCI and the LAN work fine in Linux if you leave them both enabled (= as long as you don't need to boot from PXE). The BIOS does't provide ACPI if memory serves. All the Vortex-based hardware uses AT-style power.

      The SoC doesn't have an APIC, but there's an interesting twist to the (otherwise standard) AT-PIC: the SoC allows you to select edge-triggered or level-triggered logic individually for each interrupt channel. Not that I've ever had any use for that, but it might be interesting for some custom hacks (with a number of devices that need to share a single interrupt).

      And, oh, the Vortex boards all have a BIOS, i.e. can boot DOS, various indee bootloaders, and stand-alone bootable tools (think of Memtest86+). I've already mentioned PXE booting. You're free to insert your own bootable disk (SSD or magnetic) and some boards also contain an onboard SPI-based flash drive, which acts like a 4meg floppy. The AMI BIOS in the ICOP boards allows you to configure a number of the SoC's obscure features, and can be accessed via a terminal on RS232 if the board is "headless" (no VGA).

      In terms of features, compared to the Vortex, the Galileo board (the Quark?) seems underwhelming. Ahh yes, it's also cheaper... And I understand that it's a first kid in an upcoming family.

      When I first read about the Quark, I immediately thought to myself "Vortex is in trouble". Looking at the Galileo, I think "not yet, maybe next time". We have yet to see how the Quark copes on the compatibility front etc., what novel quirks get discovered etc.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Excuse me Intel, but did anyone pass this along to Legal yet? Do not get me wrong but it would seem that they are DIRECTLY infringing on a major companies trademark. I am at a loss of words, I can see a few things about to happen legally.

    "Quark" is a large company that competes with Adobe and has been around since the dawn of the computer era. The headquarters is still in Denver Colorado.

  16. namdlo


    I think what everyone is forgetting is that this was designed to be compatible with the existing Arduino shields. Out of the box it's going to have the years of shield development. The Raspberry Pi is still early in it's development of shields yet it's so loved - yes I own one too. None of the other ones have that kind of "support".

  17. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Totally missing the point

    The whole deal about the Arduino was that it was ridiculously easy to program (from all three major platforms) and simple enough in concept for anyone with a handful of functioning brain cells to understand.

    A bonus was that if you fry the processor, for 4 quid you can pop in a replacement. Also, when you get more experienced, once you've developed your project, you pop out the chip, and stick it on a veroboard with 1 cap, 1 resistor and 1 resonator... and there's your stand-alone widget.

    It seems that even the Arduino people are losing the plot and steadily adding complications that in my opinion detract from the KISS principle. Yes, if you want to, you can link up to a computer with any of the serial links or even bit-bang your own version, but there is no need at all to try and build it in and therefore reduce flexibility.

  18. Infernoz Bronze badge

    15W is loads of power for this form factor and an ARM will P on it for performance

    Just because this can be done is not the point; the point is, is it better than an 'equivalent' ARM board? I don't think so!

    It runs crappy x86 instructions and will be expensive based on Intels' pricing model, what's to like?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On board flash means it can be bricked, unlike Raspberry Pi where all storage is on SD

    On board flash means it can be bricked - rendered unusable if the hardwired, soldered on flash chip is loaded with bad code or is corrupted.

    The RaspberryPi has an advantage here as it has no onboard, hardwired, fixed soldered on flash - the storage is provided by a removable SD card.

    So for this, Intel based board - and indeed any other board with built-in flash - this clearly is a design mistake given that these boards are aimed at people who want to experiment.


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