Marvell SheevaPlug Packs Linux System into a Power Adapter

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Storage and communications gear developer Marvell has formally announced the SheevaPlug, a tiny Linux-based computing system that’s packed into a box the size of a typical power adapter. The SheevaPlug is part of Marvell’s Plug Computing initiative, with the aim of putting always-connected computing capabilities into a variety of environments with very little impact in terms of taking up space or consuming power. The SheevaPlug is designed to pop right into a standard wall socket, and there’s no denying the SheevaPlug is small. Plus, the SheevaPlug uses about a tenth the power of a typical PC.

“There is no doubt that home networks need to become more intelligent and easier to use by offering value added services for the consumer,” said Marvell VP Dr. Simon Milner, in a statement. “We have created an open computing platform for developers in a consumer and eco-friendly form factor. Marvell’s goal is to accelerate the development and availability of innovative software and services in the home.”

The SheevaPlug uses a Marvell Kirkwood processor based on an embedded 1.2 GHz Sheeva CPU; the system sports 512 MB of flash storage, 512 MB of RAM, a USB 2.0 port, and gigabit Ethernet. Obviously, there’s no built-in display, and—short of lashing something up via USB—there’s no way to “look at the screen” of a SheevaPlug and figure out what it’s doing. But that’s OK: Marvell envisions the SheevaPlug being used for things like network management, handling digital media, network backups, and other behind-the-scenes stuff. And it consumes so little power it cam just be plugged in an left on all the time. The SheevaPlug supports multiple standard Linux 2.6 distributions.

Marvell is offering the SheevaPlug development kit for $99. Marvell’s partners are already using the SheevaPlug to create new products, including Axentra‘s HipServ home server, Cloud Engines’ PogoPlug and CTERA‘s CloudPlug that put any USB storage on a network, and Eyecon‘s media companion that enables users to manage and access their home media from mobile devices.

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