Marvell unveils SheevaPlug development kit, a small plug computing solution

Marvell has just taken the covers off its SheevaPlug development kit, a small plug computing solution at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. For those who don’t know, a plug computer is basically a device that crams the guts of a standard desktop PC into a small form factor resembling an AC adapter.

Such plug computers are not only conveniently small in size, but also consume way less electricity than regular computers. On top of that, they’re less expensive than desktops or laptops. The SheevaPlug reference design is priced at $99. This Marvell platform is already being supported by vendors like Cloud Engines and Axentra.

In terms of specifications, this miniature computer contains a Marvell Kirkwood processor based on an embedded 1.2GHz Sheeva CPU, 512MB of DRAM, 512MB of FLASH and support for home networks through a Gigabit Ethernet port. You can attach peripherals to it including those for storage via a USB 2.0 port.

As Dr. Simon Milner, VP and General Manager of the Enterprise Business Unit, Consumer and Communications Business Group, Marvell Semiconductor puts it, “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.”

With a view to allowing for application development, Marvell supports standard Linux 2.6 kernel distributions. The SheevaPlug draws so little power, it can be left connected to a wall outlet at all times and is intended for doing things like operating as a home server, performing data backup tasks, file sharing and much more.