Why Intel Galileo is not my favourite platform

Da raspibo.

tech comparison

Raspi galileo idle.jpg

This is a side by side comparison between Raspberry PI (on the left) and Intel Galileo (on the right). I have listed the main technical characteristics.

Raspberry PI mod B Intel Galileo winner
Cost $35 unknown ($60 ?)RasPI
Architecture ARMv6 x86_32
Clock700Mhz400MhzRasPI
GPUFullHDnone!RasPI!!!
Ethernet10/10010/100
USB host21RasPI
USB client10Galileo
RAM512MB256MBRasPI
Audioon HDMI and jackNORasPI
Full Fledged GNU-Linux supportYesNot NowRasPI
Suggested Power supply1.2A@5V >2.0A@5vRasPI
Current in idle state. See picture Above360mA520mARasPI
Current 100%load. See picture Below430mA540mARasPI
SD cardYes(full size)Yes(micro SD)
Mini PCINoYesGalileo
RTCNoYesGalileo
Arduino Shield pinoutNoYesGalileo
GPIO Pins1714
I2CYes(-2 GPIO)Yes
AnalogNo6 (1 multiplexed ADC)Galileo?
SPIYes(-2 GPIO)Yes
UARTYes(3.3v -2 GPIO)Yes(3.3v -2 GPIO)+RS232 Jack
SPIYes(-2 GPIO+enable)Yes(-2 GPIO+enable)
Completely Open HardwareNONO

Raspberry PI outperforms Intel Galileo in almost all the comparisons. Raspberry PI's compatibility with Arduino's shields can be provided by specific boards. If Analog ports are required, there are a lot of ADC chips on the market which can provide this feature (e.g. MCP3424 on i2c or MCP3004/3008 on SPI).

Galileo's FAQ says: "The recommended output rating of the power adapter is 5V, 3 Amp". Galileo's Getting Started guide repeats several times: "WARNING: You must use the power supply or you will damage the board. " and "Note: Always connect the 5V power before any other connection". It seems that the current provided by USB is not sufficient to boot the board. I have often used Rasbperry PIs powered by a USB port (obvioulsly in such situation I do not plug peripherals drawing a lot of current to the RasPI).

In the picture at the beginning of this posting, both Raspberry PI and Galileo had completed their boot and they were idle. Here below, the picture shows the power supply display when both computers are running:

 yes > /dev/null

Raspi galileo yes.jpg

Conclusions

Intel Galileo is not my favourite platform because:

  • x86 code portability is useless. Galileo has not been designed to run any legacy/proprietary OS so any architecture fits. Backwards compatibility is not required.
  • Galileo's SoC seems to need much more current than RasPI's. This is a very strong drawback for embedded systems! Now I have tested it by myself using my lab's power supply (see the pictures). For the sake of completeness, when the GPU is working my Raspberry PI requires 20 mA more, the power requirement raises to 380mA instead of 360mA. It is always much less than the 520mA of a galileo, which does not have any video card.
  • Galileo has been released as a very fat Arduino. That's completely crazy. 256MB of RAM, several GB of secondary memory on an SD card, a 400Mhz CPU working on a data parallelism of 32bits mean that it is possible to boot a real operating system. Out of the box, Galileo boots a Linux kernel which runs one process: an Arduino emulator. Intel provides a IDE to write sketches for their fat arduino. (AFAIK Intel's IDE is proprietary software!). What a mess. An embedded emulator of an embedded system. It would have been possible to run Galileo's IDE on Galileo itself! Galileo has the power to compile and run its own programs. For me, Galileo has a meaning only if I can load a fully fledged Linux distribution on it.
  • if the rumors about Galileo's price tag are attendible, galileo is overpriced. For its tech specs, It should have a market if sold around $25/30.
  • Through Galileo, Intel tried to capture the Makers market because the PC market is slipping away under their feet as portable phones and tablets install ARM processors (RISC, less power requirement, less commercial strings attached). The situation should be quite dark at Intel if they had to release a product like this.

Note: none of these platform are proper open hardware. (thank you Zack, your comment was absolutely appropriate, Nov. 4th 2013).

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