Alternative Platforms to the Intel® Joule™ Module

Published: 01/17/2018, Last Updated: 01/17/2018

Overview

For developers interested in alternatives to the Intel® Joule™ platform (discontinued), learn how the Intel® Joule™ platform compares to some of the latest embedded platforms from Intel (formerly codenamed Apollo Lake). We cover feature comparison, design considerations and then a comparison of the Intel® Joule™ Developer Kit with the latest IoT developer kit from Intel (UP Squared* Grove* Development Kit).

Audience

Developers looking for general guidance on how the Intel® Joule™ module compares to some of the latest embedded platforms from Intel (formerly codenamed Apollo Lake).

Feature Comparison

Below is a comparison of features between the Intel® Joule™ module and embedded processor products formerly codenamed Apollo Lake.

Product Name Intel® Joule™ 550x or 570x modules Intel® Celeron® and Pentium® processors Intel Atom® processor E3900 series
Codename Broxton Apollo Lake Apollo Lake
Status Launched Launched Announced
Recommended Customer Pricing discontinued (was priced at $149 - $159 or $199 - $209) $107 or $161 n/a
Processor Number n/a N3350; N4200 E3930; E3940; E3950
CPU cores 4 2 or 4 2 or 4
Processor Base Frequency 1.5 or 1.7 GHz 1.1 GHz 1.3 or 1.6 GHz
Burst frequency 2.4 GHz on 570x 2.4 or 2.5 GHz 1.8 or 2.0 GHz
Max Memory Size 3 or 4 GB 8 GB 8 GB
Memory Types LPDDR4 DDR3L/LPDDR3 or LPDDR4 DDR3L (ECC and Non ECC) or LPDDR4
Flash memory 8 or 16 GB eMMC   Up to 64GB eMMC
Cache 1MB 2 MB 2 MB
# of USB Ports 1 or 2 USB 3.0 8 (6 USB 3.0) 8 (6 USB 3.0)
Total # of SATA Ports 0 2 2
Max # of PCI Express Lanes 0 or 1 6 6
Graphics Output HDMI 1.4B and MIPI-DSI (1x4) eDP/DP/HDMI*/MIPI-DSI eDP/DP/HDMI/MIPI-DSI
Processor Graphics Intel® HD Graphics, gen 9 Intel® HD Graphics 500 or 505 Intel® HD Graphics 500 or 505
OS Windows® 10 IoT Core; Ubuntu;  Reference Linux* OS for IoT Linux*; Windows® 10 Enterprise Windows® 10 Enterprise; Windows® 10 IoT Core; Wind River Linux*, VxWorks*; Android*
Intel® High Definition Audio (Intel® HD Audio) Technology No Yes Yes
Operating temperature range 0°C to 70°C

0°C to 70°C

Commercial applications.

-40°C to 85°C

Extended temperature range for industrial applications

Power Delivery PMIC PMIC / discrete voltage regulator (VR)
Sleep states S0ix S0ix, S3, S4, S5 S0ix, S3, S4, S5
Security Features Intel® AES New Instructions (Intel® AES-NI) Intel® Trusted Execution Engine (Intel® TXE); Intel® AES-NI Intel® TXE; Intel® AES-NI
Package Size 24mm x 48mm 24mm x 31mm 24mm x 31mm

Design Considerations

This section presents design considerations for developers who are interested in alternative platforms to the Intel® Joule™ module. You may be a developer interested in transitioning from the Intel® Joule™ platform to the latest embedded processor products from Intel to take advantage of new features. Or you may have been considering developing with the Intel® Joule™ module but now that it has been discontinued, must choose another platform to develop on. We outline below important design considerations for both kinds of developers. Here we focus on comparing the Intel® Joule™ platform to the Atom® processor E3900 series.

  • Form factor
    The Intel Atom® processor E3900 series (formerly codenamed Apollo Lake) board area will probably increase because of a larger SoC package size, larger Power Management IC (PMIC) and Voltage Regulator (VR) solution space, and memory down (i.e. not package-on-package).
  • Performance Differences
    Lower operating frequencies on latest generation of Intel Atom® processor E3900 series, smaller cache size per core pair (e.g. 2MB vs 1MB) may affect performance. Memory configuration differences may have an impact since Intel Atom® processor E3900 series have higher peak BW, but lower transfer rate.
  • I/O Interface Limitations
    Intel Atom® processor E3900 series supports a single LPSS SPI port, compared to Joule’s two LPSS SPI ports; The Intel® Joule™ module supports USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 OTG while the Intel Atom® processor E3900 series supports USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 dual-role (it does not support OTG).
  • Completing design regulatory testing
    A design with the Intel Atom® processor E3900 series will need to go through various types of emissions certifications, safety certifications, and environmental certifications.
  • Driver Compatibility
    Register compatibility and I/O location compatibility from an Intel® Joule™ module to an Intel Atom® processor E3900 series may require driver changes.
  • Additional Features of the Intel Atom® processor E3900 series
    The Intel Atom® processor E3900 series has some new features and interfaces over Intel® Joule™ modules. Taking advantage of these interfaces and features may extend design and validation time of a migration, when compared to a situation where no new features are added.
  • Wireless Technology
    There is no integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® on the Intel Atom® processor E3900 series.
  • Power Management
    Intel® Joule™ module does not support traditional PC sleep states (S3 , S4, S5), while the Intel Atom® processor E3900 series does.

Comparison with the latest IoT Developer Kit from Intel

Below is a table comparing the features of the Intel® Joule™ module with the latest IoT Developer Kit from Intel, the UP Squared* Grove* IoT Development Kit.

  Intel® Joule™ 550x Developer Kit UP Squared* Grove* IoT Development Kit
Type Computer on a module Single board computer
Price discontinued (was ~$250) Starting from $249
Processor
Processor family Intel® Atom™ Intel® Celeron®
Codename Broxton Apollo Lake
Processor model  

N3350

Processor frequency 1.7 GHz 1.1 GHz
Processor boost frequency 2.4 GHz 2.4 GHz
Processor cores 4 2
64-bit computing Yes Yes
Memory
Maximum internal memory 3 or 4 GB 2 GB
eMMC Yes Yes
Ports and Interfaces
Wi-Fi Yes No
Bluetooth Yes No
HDMI Yes Yes
SATA No Yes
Mini PCIe* No Yes
M.2 No Yes
Raspberry Pi* header

No

Yes

Board and Dimensions
Carrier board Mandatory. Cost for an Intel development carrier board is around $100 Not required
Board dimensions 24 x 48 mm 86.5 x 90mm
Sensors and power supply included No Yes
Software
Linux operating systems supported Ubuntu* 16.04, Ubuntu Core Ubuntu 16.04 (pre-installed) 

Support for Arduino Create* and Intel® System Studio 2018

No Yes
Graphics
On-board graphics Intel® HD Graphics, Gen9 Intel® HD Graphics 500, Gen9

Conclusion

The Intel® Joule™ module, now discontinued, was a compact yet powerful modular device that included wireless and video capabilities. The feature comparison and design considerations sections of this paper served as general guidance for developers interested in alternatives to the Intel® Joule™ platform. And the last section presented the UP Squared* Grove* IoT Development Kit as a complete kit alternative to the Intel® Joule™ platform.

For developers not interested in the kit alternative and instead plan on selecting an individual processor product, please note that you may need to work with a hardware vendor to create a custom board. However, there are some alternate products (modular in nature) available through the Solutions Directory from Intel to consider:

More on UP Squared*

Product and Performance Information

1

Intel's compilers may or may not optimize to the same degree for non-Intel microprocessors for optimizations that are not unique to Intel microprocessors. These optimizations include SSE2, SSE3, and SSSE3 instruction sets and other optimizations. Intel does not guarantee the availability, functionality, or effectiveness of any optimization on microprocessors not manufactured by Intel. Microprocessor-dependent optimizations in this product are intended for use with Intel microprocessors. Certain optimizations not specific to Intel microarchitecture are reserved for Intel microprocessors. Please refer to the applicable product User and Reference Guides for more information regarding the specific instruction sets covered by this notice.

Notice revision #20110804