You might have heard of or even used a powerline network adapter, such as the one made by Netgear that plugs directly into the wall. Now think of a similar-looking device that's an entire computer.
Marvell on Tuesday introduced a new kind of personal computer, called SheevaPlug, along with its Plug Computing initiative. The idea is to make make a high-performance, ultracompact, and green computer that consumers can plug right into a wall power socket.
Because the SheevaPlug draws less than a tenth of the power of a typical PC being used as a home server, according to Marvell, it can be left on all the time. And although it is very similar to a powerline adapter in shape and size, the SheevaPlug computer contains a gigahertz-class processor to offer PC-like performance.
The current SheevaPlug model uses a Marvell Kirkwood processor running at 1.2GHz, is equipped with 512 megabytes of flash memory storage and 512MB DRAM, and connects to a network via Gigabit Ethernet. The computer has one USB 2.0 port that can be used to host directly attached storage or to connect to other networking and storage devices.
If it's not obvious, you won't be able to install Windows Vista on the SheevaPlug; instead, it supports multiple standard Linux 2.6 kernel distributions. It seems that the only way to interact with it is via a Web browser.
If you are a developer interested in finding out what this plug-in computer can do, the SheevaPlug development kit is available now for $99, cheaper than most powerline network adapters. Rumor has it that the price will even be reduced in the next few months.