Intel's Quark SoC spawns Arduino-compatible development board

Remember the tiny Quark SoC Intel debuted at IDF? The sub-Atom chip is closer to release than we thought. Intel has partnered with the Arduino folks to offer the chip on a development board set to start selling November 29. Dubbed Galileo, the board is compatible with not only the Arduino software library, but also hardware "shields" that provide additional functionality.

The Galileo board measures 3.9" x 2.8" and has a decent amount of connectivity. You get a 10/100 Fast Ethernet port, dual USB 2.0 ports, and a Mini PCI Express slot. There's 256MB of DRAM onboard, and you can add up to 32GB of storage via the microSD slot. USB storage also works, of course, and the mPCIe slot will accept standard wireless cards.

Intel's Quark X1000 sits at the center of the circuit board. This single-core chip is based on the Pentium instruction set, endowing it with x86 compatibility absent from previous Arduino designs. The CPU has 16KB of L1 cache, 512KB of embedded SRAM, and a 400MHz clock speed. Although sleep states are supported, the clock speed is constant, which is supposed to make programming easier. The product brief also reveals that the Quark has an 800MT/s memory interface and a TDP of 1.9-2.2W.

Interestingly, the Galileo board is an open-source design. There's loads of information online already, including the requisite unboxing video and a detailed datasheet (PDF). The only thing missing is the price, which will presumably be revealed closer to the board's street date.

In addition to selling Galileo through existing Arduino vendors, Intel is donating a boatload of the boards to universities. The goal is supply up to 1,000 institutions with a total of 50,000 development boards over the next 18 months. Intel says the platform is suitable for both quick prototyping and complex projects, including appliance automation and smartphone-controlled robotics. If Intel intends Quark to be the sort of processor that goes into everything, getting the chip into the hands of students and hackers sounds like a good start.

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