Greener Computing: Less is More
Marvell (not the comic book maker, the technology company) has just launched a new PC that isn't much bigger than a typical 'wall wart' electrical transformer. This isn't a totally new concept - we wrote about the "Phone Jack Computer" a while ago - but choice is good and the SheevaPlug takes a slightly different approach. Read on for more details.
The SheevaPlug development platform uses a Marvell Kirkwood processor based on an embedded 1.2GHz Sheeva™ CPU equipped with 512 Mbytes of FLASH and 512 Mbytes of DRAM. Connection to the home network is via Gigabit Ethernet. Peripherals such as direct attached storage can be connected using a USB 2.0 port. Multiple standard Linux 2.6 kernel distributions are supported on the SheevaPlug development platform enabling rapid application development. The enclosure is designed to plug directly into a standard wall socket and is designed to draw less than one tenth of the power of a typical PC being used as a home server.
Unfortunately, exact power consumption isn't given, but similar devices often draw under 10 watts (sometimes under 5 watts) when under load, and almost nothing when idle. The goal of the SheevaPlug is not to replace a desktop computer or a laptop, but rather to perform specific tasks usually done by full-sized home servers that on 24/7 and are under-used but still draw a lot of power.
Today digital home services such as media servers, file sharing and backup software all need to be installed on a PC. A plug computer is a small, powerful computer that connects to an existing network using Gigabit Ethernet. This type of device eliminates the need for an always-on PC in the digital home to access these services.
It won't work for everybody, but for those that have needs that can be addressed by plug computing, this is definitely a case of "less is more". The SheevaPlug itself seems to be $49, but the developer's kit is $99.
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