Intel squeezes x86 into SD Card

Intel Edison x86 SD CardIntel has announced an x86 embedded processing development board in an SD Card

Called Edison, the “board features a low-power 22nm 400MHz Intel Quark processor with two cores, integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It can be designed to work with most any device – not just computers, phones, or tablets, but chairs, coffeemakers, and even coffee cups”, said Intel, going on to it will be available in the summer.

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Two cores?

“The product features a processor and microcontroller core. The programmable microcontroller helps manage I/Os and other baseline functions, while the x86-compatible processor core brings Linux support and enables multiple operating systems to run high-level user applications,” said Intel. “The compute package brings connectivity with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE, and has LPDDR2 and NAND flash storage as well as I/O capabilities.”

To help convert prototypes into products, Autodesk, said Intel, is adding Edison mechanical and electrical libraries to 123D Circuits, part of the Autodesk 123D suite.

“123D is a suite of tools to make designs, 3D printing and technology projects easy,” said Intel.

Little further information has been revealed about the board, or its processor.

Quark processors execute x86 instructions and are even more stripped down than the firm’s Atom series.

Embedded Quark

So far, only one Quark is available, the single-core single-thread X1000, described by Intel as a 32nm device and: “32bit Intel Pentium instruction set architecture [ISA]-compatible”.

X1000, Intel's existing Quark

X1000, Intel’s existing Quark

Aimed at embedded processing, X1000 is an SoC with a variety of peripherals – but no video capability.

It runs at 400MHz and has 16kbyte L1 cache plus 512kbyte of ECC-protected SRAM on the die.

The DDR3 800MTs memory interface has ECC, using only standard x8 DDR3 devices, and internally there is AMBA bus fabric, as well as a legacy bridge interface to PC compatible features.

All SoC clocks can be generated from a single crystal oscillator, and all requited supply rails from a “single COTS [commercial off-the-shelf] voltage regulator”, said Intel.

For security, the SoC features an on-die Boot ROM that is used to establish hardware-based trust. “The immutable code located within the boot ROM is used to initiate an iterative firmware authentication process ensuring only trusted code is executed when taking the platform out of reset,” said the firm.

Two of Intel’s acquisitions feature in the software: Wind River and McAfee.

Intel Quark X1000 software

Intel Quark X1000 software

The chip is supported by the Wind River Intelligent Device Platform (IDP), which is the operating system and middleware software stack that binds together connectivity, security, and management.

The software stack includes: UEFI EDK II open source firmware. GRUB open source boot-loader, Wind River Linux with IDP 2.0, Wind River VxWorks, and McAfee Embedded Control

Even without video, design power is 1.9-2.2W, suggesting operation from the mains, or day-use from a rechargeable battery.

The package is 15x15mm and, currently, only 0-70°C chips are available, although a -40 to 85°C version is planned, said Intel.

Intel Galileo

Intel Galileo

X1000 is used in the Intel Galileo which is “the first in a family of Arduino-compatible development boards based on Intel Architecture”,” said the firm.

Arduino-compatible in this case means it can directly accept Arduino expansion boards – also known as ‘shields’.

“It is the first board based on Intel architecture designed to be hardware and software pin-compatible with shields designed for the Arduino Uno R3,” said Intel. “The Galileo board is also software-compatible with the Arduino software development environment.”

Interfaces on 100x70mm Galileo include: 10/100Mbit Ethernet (RJ45), USB 2.0 Client port, USB 2.0 Host port, RS-232 UART port, 3.5mm jack, and Mini PCI Express (mPCIe) slot with USB2.0 Host support. 8Mbyte of NOR flash is standard. There is also a 10pin JTAG debug header and a reset button.

This is not a Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone Black, or RIoTboard competitor, because there is no video interface.

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