We recently got our hands on one of 50.000 free Intel Galileo boards distributed to universities and wondered if this board would have any major advantages over two well-known single board computers (SBC) Raspberry Pi and Arduino Yun.



Galileo’s hardware concept is cool, however the software ecosystem is no where near ready for mainstream. Arduino Yun or Rasberry Pi is still a better choice at the moment.

Hardware overview

Galileo is unique in the Arduino lineup, as it is the first board made by Intel integrated with Arduino so far. Galileo is an Arduino-compatible single board computer (SBC) based on 400MHz Pentium-class System-on-Chip (SoC) called “Quark”; also goes along with that are:

  • 512 Kbytes of built-in SRAM
  • An additional 256MB of external DRAM
  • RS-232 Port. a little fun here, it’s under 3.5 “stereo” jack form. A specialized 3.5mm to DB9 RS-232 cable can help accessing Linux terminal.
  • Ethernet connector
  • One USB-host port and one USB-client port.
  • Reboot button to reboot the processor (entire Galileo and Linux).
  • Reset button to reset Arduino sketch only.
  • A micro-SD card slot (supports up to 32GB SD cards)
  • Mini-PCIe card slot. WiFi card can be attached to this slot to help Galileo connect to Internet wirelessly.
  • A 2.1mm barrel jack for 5V power.

On the top surface of Galileo, there are two rows of I/O pin, similar to a number of standard Arduino boards. Analog inputs A0 to A5, digital pins 0 to 13, power pin, GNG pin, ICSP header, and the UART pins (0 and 1), are all in the same locations as on the Arduino Uno R3. This design makes it compatible with existing Arduino shields already on market.


Software overview

Simply put, the Galileo SBC is like a Linux computer that is able to run Arduino emulator. This combination allows running most of existing Arduino libraries while making use the power of Linux kernel (you can call system() command on Arduino sketch directly). It opens up new possibilities through new access to powerful languages like Python, Node.js, SSH, Telnet, and other Linux stuffs.

The IDE for Galileo is nearly the same as Arduino IDE, it’s a modified Arduino IDE. You can choose “Intel Galileo” under Board menu to upload sketches.

We’ll discuss more about how to use software to get some jobs done in the next follow up post.

Hardware comparison with RPi and Arduino Yun

It’s not exactly apple-to-apple when comparing Intel Galileo, Raspberry Pi and Arduino Yun. Each of these has its own strength, and choosing one for your project depends on what you’re going to do and how easily you want to get things done. You can drill down into areas that you are curious about in the tabular comparison below:


Our take

The announcement of Intel Galileo excites most of us. Above all, Intel Galileo did one good thing thus far, that is the effort of continuing to support and improve existing open source community and ecosystem. The ability to combine Linux power and Arduino environment is also a good strategy.

However, Intel Galileo hasn’t gotten up to our expectation. The most disappointed thing we feel with this board is limitation of Linux distribution, you cannot use “apt-get” in Galileo. We’re still trying to find a work-around to bring full-featured Linux distro to this board. One more let-down is how awkward it was to access Linux terminal without SSH or telnet. You’d need 3.5mm to USB cable to connect to the computer and use CoolTerm (Mac) or Tera Term (Windows) to “display” terminal. That’s what the producer has expected us to do with “audio hole”, not SSH, not telnet.

Each board has its own pros and cons. Picking the right board for your project helps you to save a lot of time and effort. Having said that, sometimes choosing non-ideal board for your project might lead you to precious experience and help you choose it right the next time.

In the next post, we will show you more about how to work with Galileo and some useful Galileo hacks for your project.

SSS Full-stack Engineer

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Published by Phạm Bá Thọ

A Mechatronics Guy Passionate about creating miniature playable stuffs.