The Intel Joule card available to buy
By   |  December 23, 2016

The Intel Joule development card was presented last summer and is now available from several online resellers. The Joule is another sign that Intel wants to take the leads in the promising IoT market. Compared to the other cards available in the market it offers much higher performance, especially when compared to the ultra-famous Raspberry Pi 3. But the drawback is the price: the Intel Joule is available at several e-tailers with prices starting at $369. It’s about ten times the price of a Raspberry 3 and not even comparable with the mere 5 dollars asked for by its mini counterpart, the Raspberry Zero.

The Intel Joule is available in 2 versions: the 550X and the 570X which differ slightly. This System on a Module combines a 64-bit, Quad-Core compute engine with power management services, wireless connectivity and high speed I/O. Both versions embed a “Broxton” SoC, a line that Intel had initially presented and then canceled. The onboard processor is a Goldmont type core with four cores, up to 1.7 GHz on Joule570 or even 2.4GHz with turbo mode enabled.

Module Features:

  • Quad-Core processing unit
  • UEFI compliant BIOS
  • Multiple SKUs (1.5GHz and 1.7GHz)
  • Built-In 3 or 4GB RAM and 8 or 16GB eMMC
  • Intel HD Graphics
  • On-Chip Image Signal Processor (ISP)
  • Bluetooth 4.1 compliant
  • Wi-Fi (802.11ac) Dual Band MIMO

Software & Firmware:

  • Linux 4.4 Kernel
  • A Linux-based OS Electrical Interfaces
  • HDMI 1.4b output at 1080p
  • Up to 48 GPIO (including 4 PWMs)
  • Up to 2 USB 3.0 interfaces plus 1 USB 2.0 with OTG support
  • Up to 4 independant UARTs
  • I2C, I2S, and SPI interfaces
  • PCIe 2.0 interface (muxed with USB 3.0)

Intel RealSense compatibility:

  • Intel RealSense API enables 3D scanning, object recognition, and person tracking

The Joule 570X comes with 4 GB of DDR4 RAM, while the 550X only has 3 GB. As far as storage is concerned, 16 GB will be available for the 570X and 8 GB for the 550X. Both cards have comparable connectivity, including a USB 3.0 port, Bluetooth 4.1 support, and 802.11ac WiFi, and the inevitable IO ports that are expected to be found on such cards. But both models remain very compact with dimensions of 48x24x3.5 mm, making it smaller than a Raspberry.

An expansion board is also available and it is intended to breakout all I/O interfaces from the Intel Joule module into easily accessible connectors.

Expansion board features

  • Dimensions 70 x 85 mm
  • Operating temperature 32 to 158°F (0 to 70°C)

Interfaces

  • Micro HDMI connector
  • Micro-SD card slot
  • USB 3.0 Type A connector
  • USB 3.0 Type C connector
  • RTC battery holder
  • 3 Buttons: DnX boot, general purpose, and power
  • LEDs (1 power, 4 general purpose)
  • Two 2×20 pin breakout connectors:
  • – 19.2 MHz and 32.768 kHz clocks
    – 2 SPI interface
    – 4 UARTs, 3 full and 1 half
    – I2S interface
    – 5 I2C interfaces
    – 2 digital microphone interfaces
    – 8 dedicated GPIOs with reference BIOS/IFWI
    – 4 PWM ports

The Intel Joule will use almost the same software as its much smaller sibling the Intel Edison. The development environment is similar and supports both the Intel XDK and the Intel System Studio IoT Edition. The Intel Edison platform uses a version of Linux with a terminal only interface.

On the other hand, the Intel Joule platform comes with a reference Linux for IoT. This platform conforms a bit more to a “classical” Linux distro, offering a root access terminal, which can be output via HDMI or over a serial interface, such as PuTTY. But also a classic desktop in the form of the user-friendly X interface allowing people who are new to Linux to work with a more entry level graphical interface. While interaction with the terminal will still be required, it is minimized in this mode.

Support for Windows 10 IoT Core on the Intel Joule was expected to be released by the end of this year. However, the following quote is the only indication from Microsoft on Windows IoT Core + Intel Joule support:

“Windows just keeps getting better. During Intel’s Developer Forum, Intel’s CEO announced a new innovator platform, Intel Joule, with support for Windows 10 IoT Core. Combined with the power of the Universal Windows Platform, Visual Studio, and Azure IoT, the Intel Joule module is exceptionally well suited to help developers and entrepreneurs go from concept to prototype to production in a fraction of the time of traditional system development. Please come back soon to Get Started with Windows 10 IoT Core.”

With the availability of the Intel Joule now being a reality, there is no doubt that things should evolve very fast in the upcoming weeks and it’s probably not the last time we talk about this Intel platform.

More Info on the Intel Joule Compute module HERE

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