A quick look at the Intel Galileo Arduino/Linux Development Board

GalileoWe’ve had the Intel Galileo for around three weeks now and tested a number of projects on it’s platform. This article will be a quick review and some instructions to get you up and running with your Intel Galileo!

There are more and more distributors now stocking the Galileo; we got ours from RS Components but you can find a list of distributors on the Intel Galileo website just here.

 

So what is it?

The Intel Galileo is the first development board from Intel to be fully compatible with the Arduino, not only in software but hardware as well, the Intel Galileo is fully compatible with Arduino 3.3v/5v Shields. The board has a 400Mhz 32bit Intel® Quark SoC X1000 Application Processor.

The Intel Galileo also has the option of running a Linux distribution alongside running Arduino sketches, you will need to partition a micro-sd card and copy over a cut down image provided by Intel, however there are already modified images around the internet to use a more “full featured linux”.

There is too much to actually list on this page with regards to what this board has, you can view the datasheet for this development board by clicking here and some basic information is listed below (as well as our photos). You can also view the product brief by clicking here.

gboard1Processor Features
400 MHz 32-bit Intel® Pentium® instruction set
architecture (ISA)-compatible processor
− 16 KByte L1 cache
− 512 KBytes of on-die embedded SRAM
− Simple to program: Single thread, single core,
constant speed
− ACPI compatible CPU sleep states supported
− Integrated Real Time Clock (RTC), with optional 3V
“coin cell” battery for operation between turn on
cycles.


gboard3Storage Options

• 8 MByte Legacy SPI Flash to store firmware (bootloader)
and the latest sketch
− Between 256 KByte and 512 KByte dedicated for
sketch storage
512 KByte embedded SRAM
256 MByte DRAM
Optional micro SD card offers up to 32 GByte of storage
USB storage works with any USB 2.0 compatible drive
11 KByte EEPROM programmed via the EEPROM library.

So, what’s good about the Intel Galileo?

  • It is compatible with all Arduino Uno R3 shields – with a 3.3v/5v switch.
  • It is software compatible with all Arduino libraries.
  • It has more storage 256 KByte to 512 KByte for sketches.
  • The Intel Galileo is much faster than any of the current Arduino boards.
  • You can run Linux from an SD card.
  • Interface mPCIe cards (such as WiFi/Bluetooth adapters) and use them from your Arduino sketches.
  • In-built Ethernet
  • Real Time Clock support.
  • USB Host

There are many more good things about this board; but obviously if there were all to be listed then this would go on forever. When looking at buying an official Arduno Mega there isn’t a huge price difference jump for the added extra features of the Galileo.

Let’s get it booted up!

The Intel Galileo didn’t automatically install like our other Arduino’s did; luckily there is a well written “getting started guide” which takes you through the installation process.

Also note that you do not use the classic Arduino IDE. You must download the Intel Galileo compatible Arduino IDE from the official Arduino website.

WARNING: DO NOT PLUG IN THE USB CABLE BEFORE THE POWER ADAPTER. THIS CAN DAMAGE THE BOARD.

Take note of the above warning as it’s easy to forget after working with Arduino boards for a long period of time. The other thing to also note that unless you have a micro-sd card in the Intel Galileo, no sketches will actually save after power down of the board.

galblinkAfter you’ve installed the drivers (following the getting started guide) launch the Arduino IDE and get started coding!

Try out some of the examples such as LED Blink to make sure it’s actually working and uploading sketches correctly. You can see on the screenshot to the right, it’s exactly the same as the regular Arduino IDE in every way so you should be familiar with it if you’ve used an Arduino before.

The first thing I did was test to make sure my sketches were saving to my micro-sd card. After you have followed the setup instructions in the guide, it should automatically save sketches to the /sketches folder on the card.

If it isn’t saving your sketch after power-down, then check to make sure you have set it up the card correctly and that Linux is actually booting. The first time you boot the Intel Galileo with Linux on it will take several minutes to setup and generate keys for SSH (so make sure you leave it a while on first boot).

Note: If you’re connecting via SSH make sure to have the network cable plugged in BEFORE powering up the board.

Once you have Linux booting and the Intel Galileo saving your Arduino code to the card then you’re ready to go; saving the sketch is optional but who doesn’t want it saving?.

Improvements?

When spending money on this development board, I would expect to get the full package from it – See below:

  • NO USB Cable provided in the box. Extremely surprised about this as every single Arduino development board we have purchased has included one and they’re not exactly expensive.
  • NO SD Card provided. Again, as this is something vital to get the full functionality of the board, providing a cheap 4GB Micro-SD card wouldn’t of been breaking the bank considering how much the board is.
  • NO Documentation. Everything points you to their website and to download/view PDFs – The getting started guide should of been printed and provided in the box
  • It would of been nice to have included a version of the IDE; either on a provided SD card (see above) or just on a CD. You have to go browsing the Intel/Arduino website to get up and running.

Other than the above the packaging is very nice, it’s well made and has a printed photo of Galileo as well as a basic diagram of the board on the inside of the box. There is a power adapter with multiple plugs (EU, UK, US) provided.

pciecAfter we got it setup, Carl found an old Broadcom Wifi mPCIe card out of a laptop (see photo) and we tested it with the Intel Galileo. The standard image that Intel provide did not support drivers for this, however they were available to download and compile from the Broadcom website.

Once we had got the drivers working we tested out one of the Arduino sketches for WiFi which worked straight away, we’re very impressed with this!

Having this ability to find expansion cards and download x86 drivers is great – It means we can add functionality to the board that it wouldn’t of otherwise had. We’re on the lookout for more mPCIe cards to test out.

 

That about wraps up the Intel Galileo article for now, no doubt you’ll be seeing more and more posts from us regarding this board – It will make a great web server so it will add functionality to so many of our current projects. 

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