Marvell hopes 'plug computers' will Web-enable hard drives

It's a gadget that works like a home server, but a lot cheaper

Can a computer get any smaller and cheaper than a netbook? Marvell Technology Group Ltd. thinks so.

The Silicon Valley chip maker is trying to create a new category of inexpensive, energy-efficient devices it calls "plug computers," for which it would supply the integrated processors.

Strongly resembling those vacation timers that turn on your lights at night to ward off potential robbers, a plug computer is more of a home networking gadget that transforms external hard drives or USB thumb drives into full network-attached storage (NAS) devices.

That allows easy access to your files, particularly videos and songs, via your home network or the Web site provided by your plug computer's maker, according to Raja Mukhopadhyay, a product marketing manager for the Santa Clara, Calif., company.

Marvell officially announced the plug computer concept today. It is based on Marvell's SheevaPlug platform, which includes a 1.2GHz ARM-compatible processor with 512MB of flash memory and 512MB of DDR2 memory that roughly approximates the CPU-memory-storage trinity in regular PCs.

The target customers for SheevaPlug are software and Web companies with Linux and Java programmers and the chops to customize the SheevaPlug and create easy-to-use consumer gear.

The target customers for the finished plug computer would be not-terribly-techie multimedia junkies who want to store their TV shows on a drive at home so they can watch them from a laptop or netbook while on the go, Mukhopadhyay said in an interview Monday.

"We can provide the same services as a home server or a NAS device at a much lower price," he said.

San Francisco-based CloudEngines Inc. is beta-testing a $99 Pogoplug device running Marvell's SheevaPlug system-on-chip (SOC). Brent Evans, who writes a gadget blog called Geektonic, has written about the Pogoplug he is testing on Twitter.

"It's very easy to set up and use -- easy enough your average non-technical user could handle it," Evans wrote in an e-mail. "It is not a full-blown NAS and doesn't have all of the features you'd find with a more expensive NAS or Windows Home Server, but it seems like a great and easy way to do the NAS on the cheap."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags netbooks

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?