As Zoe Romano puts it in an Arduino blog post, “the Arduino TRE is two Arduinos in one.” Basically, the new ARM Cortex-A8-based Sitara AM335x’s job is to run Linux applications and manage the SBC’s PC-style interfaces (video, audio, Ethernet, USB, optional WiFi, etc.), while an Atmel ATmega microcontroller takes care of the SBC’s real-world I/O (analog inputs, digital I/O, PWM outputs, etc) and handles the interface to shields (Arduino expansion modules) in a fully AVR-compatible manner. Best of all, Romano points out, the 1GHz TI ARM processor offers up to “100 times more performance” than Arduino’s earlier Leonardo and Uno boards, writes Romano.
What’s unique about the TRE, however, is that its Linux OS runs on an ARM processor that’s truly integrated into the SBC’s basic architecture, as opposed to being a collateral benefit of a WiFi add-on module. As a result, the TRE will support a “full Linux” OS in contrast to the Yun’s Linino OS, a custom version of the lightweight OpenWRT embedded Linux distribution.