How Intel Galileo and Edison Power The Prototyping Area – Into Robotics

The Intel Corporation enters into the makers’ community with two big names with major roles in the scientific revolution: Galileo and Edison. Both names are now printed on two prototyping platforms: Intel Galileo and Intel Edison. Both boards are excellent tools for maker culture, but it is important to know what you are buying and why the platforms exist in the DIY area. Between Intel Galileo and Edison is not a battle, and the reason is simple: both boards have distinct targets.

A word about Intel Galileo

Not so far away from our days, back in 2013, the Intel Corporation launched its first Linux platform aiming to hit the Raspberry Pi users. The engaging Galileo board has engaging features and is fully compatible with Arduino board.

The name Arduino sound pretty good for a beginner, but you do not have to let the Arduino brand fool you because the Galileo is not a platform for beginners.

This year under Intel brand were released the second generation of Galileo called Galileo Gen 2. Looking to its “new” features, the word “generation” means something too much. The Gen 2 is nearly identical in most aspects especially in the processing power area where it comes with the same 400MHz processor.

The number of improvements can be counted easily, and yes, there are several improvements compared with the first version especially for input pins where the board has an improved GPIO speed and can handle inputs between 7V and 15V. Without having a fixed-voltage input, the Galileo Gen 2 is better suited for embedded projects where batteries are used to supply power to the circuit.

The list of improvements continue with 12-bit PWM for more precise servo control, a full-sized USB host port, and several other enhancements based on the Intel Galileo feedback from the user community.

Read more: Key features of Intel Galileo Gen 2

Once again, the Galileo is linked with the Arduino brand, but this time is about Arduino shields. The Galileo is very friendly with 17 Arduino shields including Bluetooth, GSM/3G, RFID, solar charging, motor and servo, and more.

The users love to have a powerful Linux board physical compatible with Arduino shields, to use the Arduino IDE and its libraries, but in the same time they hate to power the Galileo with external power supply, and not have comprehensive documentation.

The Edison has the power

Step back in time with 100 years, the Edison was an inventor and businessman that inspire generations and make inventions that we still use today.

In 2014, Intel introduced on the market a miniature computer built on the company’s 22nm transistor technology.

The Intel Edison board is small, very small, but even so, it has enough power to run a full version of Linux or to host Bluetooth and WiFi modules.

Having on one side no more than 70-pin connectors, the Edison board includes a dual-core Intel Atom processor, 1 GB LPDDR3 and up to 4 GB EMMC.

Read more: Intel Edison: Putting it All Together

The little development platform has to be adopted by stackable boards because alone it cannot do more. At this moment, the power of Edison is consumed with three kits:

  1. the first option is to use the Intel Edison kit engineered for Arduino;
  2. Intel corporation design a breakout board;
  3. the third option is to use three blocks from SparkFun that allows anyone to get started with Edison;

Prototyping in action

The release of Intel Galileo and Edison is not a coincidence, and both boards are linked with new technologies and trends in technology including the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0. Both concepts require data collection, automatically communication between machines or human-machine and a lot of costs and time saving.

The Galileo board is simple and friendlier with the users of Arduino community. The board has the performance of an Intel Quark processor, but in the same time it runs the Arduino IDE.

The power or expandability of the Galileo is very important for any maker. A smart robot require a powerful processor, while adding hands or legs to a robot demand more pins, ports, and power delivery.

In other words, the Galileo is an excellent choice for anyone willing to interface robot components (sensors, motors, LEDs), it is a very good development platform for Arduino enthusiasts, and a great target for students and educators in the electronics and computer science fields.

Compared with Galileo, the Edison platform is from another league. Users buy Edison to build applications, make the world wonderful, and to have in hands a powerful prototyping platform. I don’t know if Intel engineers plans from start a head separated by the body, or it is just a coincidence. The head was separated from the body with a very good reason: to be flexible enough to fit in almost any project that needed wireless communication and a lot of power.

The Edison platform is engineered for new generations of connected devices and wearable applications. This tiny computer is like ants that can carry many times their own body weight. It can control sensors, connect to its own app store, and take control of wireless connectivity without too much effort.

Edison wasn’t designed with robots in mind, but even so, it is the perfect tool for small and flexible social robots without too much space available for components.

Counting the costs

The Raspberry Pi or Arduino are popular in the communities with hobbyists and hackers due to a low cost for a good processor or microcontroller, large communities, and multitude options of connectivity.

Based on previous experience with Galileo 1, Intel releases Galileo Gen 2 at an affordable price of $61.99. [Price: $61.99 & FREE Shipping].

About Intel Edison, there is another story. If you want to buy only the Edison module, it has a price of $59.99 [Price: $59.99 & FREE Shipping], which is a good price. There are additional costs that can rise the final price of Edison somewhere around $85.00 [Price: $85.00 & FREE Shipping] for the Arduino kit.

More brains, more help, more ideas

Intel chooses to build Galileo and Edison boards in a world dominated by Arduino and Raspberry Pi. They have some courage, some inspiration, and many determinations.

Communities are very important resources of inspiration and help for robotics crusaders. Still, the engineers behind Edison and Galileo know that any developer needs more than a good example for a motivation to build something. The company starts building a new community through competitions, an improved documentation, and by giving away several thousand boards.

Would be a next step?

What a maker or hacker should expect from Intel in the future? This is the question! Should we wait a third generation of Galileo or a second generation of Edison? Next time we should have in our hands a more powerful processor, an increased number of GPIO pins, and a lot of other connectivities?

For the next generation of Edison and Galileo, please leave a comment together with all your expectations that you have from Intel and its offer for prototyping area.

Intel Edison Module, Intel;
Intel Edison is a full computer on an SD card, launching in 2014, Wired;
Intel® Galileo Gen 2 Development Board, Intel;
Intel Galileo, Wikipedia;


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