Hardware

Photos: Robots and drones - here's what Intel's answer to the Raspberry Pi can do

Edison

The maker movement is thriving – with hobbyist technologists across the world packing low-cost computers and sensors into bespoke electronics that fuse art and technology.

The market is dominated by single-board computers and microcontrollers such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino, but new competitors are arriving all the time.

Intel's entry is Edison, a tiny single-board computer, little bigger than a postage stamp, measuring just 3.55 x 2.5 x 0.39cm.

Although it will be compared with the $35 Raspberry Pi model B+, it is designed to work as an embedded Linux board for electronic prototypes and products, rather than as a small-board computer running a full-blown Linux distro.

Edison is based on an Intel Atom SoC using the 22nm Silvermont microarchitecture and including a dual-core Intel Atom Z34XX CPU running at 500MHz and a single-core microcontroller.

The board has 1GB of memory and 4GB eMMC storage. For network connectivity there is integrated a/b/g/n wi-fi and Bluetooth low energy. Peripherals can be connected using a single USB port. Meanwhile the 70-pin connector opens up a range of options to extend Edison's capabilities by hooking up new boards to run sensors and other electronics or to attach further peripherals. The board includes an SD card interface, two UARTs, two I²C busses, SPI with two chip selects, I²S, 12 general purpose input-output pins with four capable of PWM, and a USB 2.0 OTG controller.

It can run Yocto Linux v1.6, a build system designed for embedded devices, rather than a full-blown Linux OS as can be run on the Raspberry Pi. For power it requires a 1.8V input.

Although the board costs $50, to build custom electronics you'll probably also need to grab something like an Arduino breakout board, which would set you back about $107.

In real-world tests of Edison it has been shown operating at 615MIPS, roughly twice the real-world performance of the Raspberry Pi B+. Under load it reportedly draws a maximum of 500mA.

But just what can you do with Edison? At Intel Developer Forum, projects ranged from humanoid robots to tracking drones.

Intel

By Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.