What’s with Intel and its Galileo board?

Intel_Galileo-Quark-BoardEverywhere I look at the moment Intel seems to be popping up. You couldn’t miss them walking around VIVID, my social media feeds are full of them, and they seem to be making a determined effort to get in front of every teacher with a technical bent.

They are pushing their Galileo board as an alternative to the Raspberry Pi or the Arduino. The Galileo is a nice bit of kit as these things go, but if feels like there’s no need for it to exist as an alternative in this space.

The board itself uses the Arduino software development environment (although with a slight twist that requires a separate download) and is compatible with Arduino shields and programs. But then those statements are obviously completely applicable to Arduino and these days Arduino knock-offs can be purchased from the black-labs of China through Ebay for a pittance. So I’m struggling with why you’d go Galileo unless you have very specific needs. My understanding is that the Galileo was originally created with industrial, mission-critical tasks in mind – which is why it is such a nice bit of engineering. There’s no question that it has a build-quality and some features missing in the competition, but those things come with a serious price difference. It also seems a little like in trying to compete with Arduino and Raspberry Pi it is trying to be all things to all people rather that something absolutely brilliant in a niche of its own. I’ve yet to hear of anyone doing anything with the Galileo that they couldn’t have done with alternatives.

The Galileo is often mentioned in the same breath as the Raspberry Pi but they really are quite different beasts and I think it is better compared to the Arduino. Where the comparison to the Pi does become valid is in the pitch to teachers and the attempt to provide a supporting ecosystem. Arduino has a plethora of supporting materials but its all very open-source and distributed. Raspberry Pi and the Galileo seem far more targeted. Realistically, one of the most significant thing going for the Galileo right now is the level of backing and support coming from Intel.

It makes a lot of sense for a company like Intel to make sure it is not getting left behind in the hacker and educational space that has become dominated by Arduino and Raspberry Pi. It’s a lot less certain whether it makes any sense to choose the pricey Galileo over the competition.

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