3D Robotics

Intel cancels Edison, Joule boards


It was well known that Edison was going to be discontinued this year, but Joule, which was just released, is a surprise. This is bad news for any autopilot board that uses Edison, such as Pixhawk 2.1, which will now have to move to another companion computer. (I'd suggest Raspberry Pi). From Hackaday:

Sometimes the end of a product’s production run is surrounded by publicity, a mix of a party atmosphere celebrating its impact either good or bad, and perhaps a tinge of regret at its passing. Think of the last rear-engined Volkswagens rolling off their South American production lines for an example.

Then again, there are the products that die with a whimper, their passing marked only by a barely visible press release in an obscure corner of the Internet. Such as this week’s discontinuances from Intel, in a series of PDFs lodged on a document management server announcing the end of their Galileo (PDF), Joule (PDF), and Edison(PDF) lines. The documents in turn set out a timetable for each of the boards, for now they are still available but the last will have shipped by the end of 2017.

It’s important to remember that this does not mark the end of the semiconductor giant’s forray into the world of IoT development boards, there is no announcement of the demise of their Curie chip, as found in the Arduino 101. But it does mark an ignominious end to their efforts over the past few years in bringing the full power of their x86 platforms to this particular market, the Curie is an extremely limited device in comparison to those being discontinued.

Will the departure of these products affect our community, other than those who have already invested in them? It’s true to say that they haven’t made the impression Intel might have hoped, over the years only a sprinkling of projects featuring them have come our way compared to the flood featuring an Arduino or a Raspberry Pi. They do seem to have found a niche though where there is a necessity for raw computing power rather than a simple microcontroller, so perhaps some of the legion of similarly powerful ARM boards will plug that gap.

So where did Intel get it wrong, how did what were on the face of it such promising products fizzle out in such a disappointing manner? Was the software support not up to scratch, were they too difficult to code for, or were they simply not competitively priced in a world of dirt-cheap boards from China? 

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  • This must be a real kick in the guts to the Pixhawk 2.1 dev team. I can't imagine how much time, effort and money has gone into developing the hardware to take the Edison, and now this. I'd be pretty gutted.

  • @Ryan The more powerful up boards are specifically tested with realsense, and in fact even sold/promoted by Intel together with realsense cameras as a kit.  The new up squared pentium option should be not far off the performance of the joule, even if the designer was on smack when he added double stacked ethernet to such a small form factor.

    There's also the upcoming compute cards from Intel which will provide even more performance.  Neither of those options should be 'killable' by Intel due to their already in place partnerships.  

    Personally I wouldn't go anywhere near the aero board or euclid or any of the other smaller projects from Intel now - I just don't trust them.

  • I was a dumb enough to get a Joule 570 kit, looked like the right balance for a companion computer, USB 3, 2 MIPI camera ports, Realsense native support.

    Since my drone project requires vision processing, it seemed like the best choice at the time. Nvidia TX1/TX2 were also in the running, but too large, and power hungry for the drone design i was working toward.

    The up board series, doesnt seem to have to processing power,native camera, or Realsense support I needed.


  • I wouldn't touch an Intel SBC now.  I never seriously considered it because it was ITAR restricted but now that Intel abandons a platform and its evolved cousins so soon after hyping it?  Cya Intel.

  • Is there any real reason no one checks out the Chinese replacements?

    I have a pretty good experience with the H2+ boards (e.g. Orange PI Zero), in terms of performance, pricing and reliability. so far so good and the price is very attractive $7-9, which is about 1/4th of the price of Edison with significantly higher performance and I'm pretty sure they will make a board with more memory if they see a need for it.

    I've seen the up-boards and while they do look like the first intel board worth more than a glance, the price sets them up in a niche between the TX1/2 and the cheap Chinese boards.

    As far as Intel goes, like all giants, it takes them significantly more time to get a board out, document it and finally put it in the market while the Chinese do the same thing in a fraction of the time, so a board you've seen in cnx-software will be in your hands usually in less than a month.

    To be fair, I did try the Raspberry PI 3 and while it looks like its solid, the aggressive "we don't sell more than 1" policy makes it a lot less attractive to me, I usually get 2-3 boards just so I won't fear of it being destroyed by an experiment, if I can't get two than how am I supposed to build anything around it? performance wise, the Raspberry PI 3 is inferior to almost any Chinese board I've tried.
  • It's about time it died.  Sparkfun & diydrones really laid it on thick with that one.  The raspberry pi zero W, for those who are persistent enough to find one, is a better deal.  With enough work, the ARM can run x86 binaries.  It would have been terrible to be the hipster designing all those Sparkfun edison blocks when the numbers were so bad.

  • @Chris you mention 

    This is bad news for any autopilot board that uses Edison, such as Pixhawk 2.1, which will now have to move to another companion computer. (I'd suggest Raspberry Pi).

    The port on the Pixhawk2 is specifically for the Intel Edison right? Are you suggesting that the manufacturer(s) of the Pixhawk will need to adjust the hardware's physical specs/configuration? Or is there an easy way to use a Raspberry Pi with the Pixhawk2 as is?

  • Intel employee posted this on the Joule support forum, which was quickly deleted:

    "Yes, Intel will be shutting down all Maker programs and most of the wearable programs. We are continuing to sell existing products through the end of the year but our Management team has elected not to produce more."

    It leaves a big gap in the market, there is nothing else like it on the market, particularly for drones.  Nothing comes close to the performance, at this time.

  • While I am sure they have alternatives and that this will be just a small inconvenience, I think they have some work to do. It is difficult to think they do not use mraa and some other really nice to use libraries by intel
  • 3D Robotics

    Marc: That was a good answer by them, and I do think they'll be fine. And once they come out with their next RTK (dual band, one assumes, to match the new Swiftnav system) they can base it on a different Linux board. 

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