Computer-in-a-plug platform looks to shrink network-connected devices

We've recently seen a computer in a keyboard, but Marvell is going one better and releasing a new hardware platform that promises a computer in a plug. The SheevaPlug platform consists of the company's Kirkwood processor, 512MB of DRAM, 512MB of flash memory, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a USB port, all of which can fit in the size of a wall-wart-style power adapter.

We've recently seen a computer in a keyboard, but Marvell is going one better and releasing a new hardware platform that promises a computer in a plug. The SheevaPlug platform consists of the company's Kirkwood processor, 512MB of DRAM, 512MB of flash memory, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a USB port, all of which can fit in the size of a wall-wart-style power adapter. SheevaPlug devices run on Linux, and Marvell claims they use only a tenth of the electricity that a typical home server unit taps.

Obviously, SheevaPlug's form factor is designed to connect to external storage, rather than hold any of its own. Using the plug computer and a drive with a USB port, you can quickly roll your own network storage with the computer attached to a router. While the platform may appeal to Internet and TV providers, there's already a consumer device announced that uses SheevaPlug. The Pogoplug (pictured) costs $79 for pre-orders and will ship in March. In addition to letting you locate the attached USB storage on Macs and Windows computers, it lets you access its files via a Web browser or even your iPhone.

Marvell is also offering the SheevaPlug development kit for $99, which includes the SheevaPlug computer. Whether this whole concept will fly is still to be determined, of course, but you have to give Marvell credit for "plugging into" something a little bit different.

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