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Intel unveils Quark-based Galileo computer to rival Raspberry Pi

04 Oct 2013
Intel Galileo single board computer

Intel has unveiled a low-cost single-board computer called Galileo aimed at the "maker" and education communities, in a move that can be seen as rivalling that of the popular Raspberry Pi device.

Announced at the Maker Faire event in Rome by Intel chief Brian Krzanich, Galileo is a single-board computer based on the Quark X1000 system on a chip (SoC) that Intel unveiled to the world at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) last month.

It is also designed to be compatible with the popular Arduino single-board computer widely used by hobbyists and "makers", sporting a compatible connector layout and compatibility with the Arduino software development environment.

Krzanich said that Galileo was just the first product in a new family of Arduino-compatible development boards that Intel and the Arduino community will work together on in future. He also announced a large-scale donation of 50,000 Galileo boards to 1,000 universities worldwide over the next 18 months.

"Through our ongoing efforts in education, we know that hands-on learning inspires interest in science, technology, engineering and math. 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," said Krzanich.

This puts the Galileo in direct competition with the Raspberry Pi, a single-board computer designed to be cheap enough for schools and even individual students to be able to afford in order to experiment and learn developer skills, but which has also proven popular with hobbyists.

While the Raspberry Pi is equipped with an ARM-based Broadcom system on a chip (SoC), Intel's Quark chip is naturally an x86 processor. It runs at 400MHz and is backed on the Galileo board by 256MB of DRAM and a micro SD card slot to support up to 32GB of storage.

The Galileo board is designed to be compatible with add-on modules called shields designed for the Arduino Uno R3 board, thanks to its compatible connector layout. It offers input and output (I/O) beyond that supported by Arduino, however, including a mini PCI Express slot, 100Mbps Ethernet port, serial port, USB host port and client ports.

One thing notably absent, however, is any kind of display output. This is because the Arduino is designed to be programmed via a PC, and used as an embedded controller in hardware projects, and Galileo seems to follow this approach. In contrast, the Raspberry Pi can be used as a standalone computer.

Intel said the Galileo board should be available by the end of November through various retailers such as Avnet and Ingram Micro. Pricing is set by the channel, according to Intel, although it expected Galileo to sell for under $60 (£37).

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Daniel Robinson

Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.

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