Intel's open-source Galileo computer on sale for $US69.90

The computer, targeted at the do-it-yourself crowd, will ship by the end of November

Intel's Galileo board with Quark chip

Intel's Galileo board with Quark chip

Intel's Galileo open-source computer for the hacker and do-it-yourself crowd can now be ordered for $US69.90, and is scheduled to ship at the end of November.

The Galileo computer is an unenclosed circuit board that's a little larger than a credit card, and uses Intel's extremely low-power Quark processor. The board is a competitor to the popular $US25 Raspberry Pi open-source PC, and is targeted at the community of makers and enthusiasts who make computing devices ranging from robots and health monitors to home media centers and PCs.

Intel had earlier said the computer would be available for under $US60 by the end of November. Online retailer Mouser Electronics is the first to take orders for the board, and the price falls to $68.25 per unit for a bulk purchase of 100 boards.

Galileo is based on the new line of Quark processors announced by Intel in September. The Quark chips draw less power than the company's Atom chips, and are targeted at wearable devices and small electronics, which today typically use either microcontrollers or ARM CPUs.

Some projects using Galileo are already underway. The board is used in an experiment called YesYesBot, in which a foam-filled robot dishes out candy. A project called Lyt employs the board in a lighted panel that can be controlled from smartphones or tablets. Intel has assisted in both of the projects.

Intel announced the board in early October, and is tapping into the maker community as a way to figure out how to best use Quark chips. The board is open source, meaning that Intel will release its schematics and design for others to replicate and manufacture. Intel reached out to the enthusiast community for the first time in July when it started selling its first open-source PC called MinnowBoard, which is priced at $US199.

The Galileo is more expensive than the Raspberry Pi, which has better graphics capabilities, and also the $US45 BeagleBoard; both of those products are based on ARM CPUs.

It remains to be seen whether Intel's open-source board will be welcomed by the maker community, which shares the open-source ethos of working together to tweak and improve hardware designs.

The Quark chip is based on the x86 instruction set, drawing from Pentium chip designs. The 32-bit chip runs at a clock speed of 400MHz and has 512KB of RAM.

Features on the Galileo board include 8MB flash, 256MB DRAM, 100Mbps (bits per second) Ethernet port, a micro-SD connector slot, a mini PCI-Express slot, RS-232 serial port and a USB 2.0 port with support for up to 128 host devices. A compatible power supply, jumpers, resistors, capacitors and other components can be bought separately from Adafruit Industries, SparkFun Electronics, Maker Shed and other retailers.

Galileo runs a lightweight version of Linux. The board supports the Arduino development environment, which is used to write programs for other boards and standard microcontrollers.

Intel will be giving away 50,000 Galileo boards to students at over 1000 universities over the next 18 months, though the company hasn't yet disclosed at which educational institutions it will do so.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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