SheevaPlug and the Plug Computing Paradigm Shift

I long for the days when I could say paradigm shift with a straight face. I remember in 1998 I used to say it all the time in conversations. Portals, Ecommerce, web auctions, VoIP, etc there was so much innovation coming down the pike, it was amazing. But in a post web bubble, telecom bubble, tech bubble, housing bubble, financial bubble, ponzi-scheme bubble world I feel a bit jaded. But still, I had some of that good old paradigm shift feeling when I read about what Marvell is doing with their new SheevaPlug announcement.


The company has launched a completely open platform running on a dirt-cheap $99 high-power, energy-efficient computing platform. Inside the device is a Linux OS running on an ARM-based 1.2GHz Sheeva embedded processor, 512MB of DDR2 memory, 512MB of flash storage, gigabit Ethernet and USB 2.0. The goal is to have this device run in your home continuously while it performs tasks you might otherwise want a PC to do. It is the size of a typical power brick for a laptop.

The difference between this box and a PC is this one stays on all the time, consumes less power and centralizes tasks such as virus scanning. Rather than updating software on the laptops, desktops and netbooks in your house, the single appliance handles the task for you.

In addition, the device could serve as the interface between your local storage and the web, allowing inexpensive access to locally stored files on the go. Or an OEM can make it into a netbook or NAS device.

In an interview with TMCnet, Marvell’s product manager, Raja Mukhopadhyay, said the company is seeking to speed up the development and availability of innovative software and services in the home.

“Essentially what Marvell has done is take the computer in the home and present it in a standalone, separate manner in one device,” Mukhopadhyay told TMCnet. “It’s going to help high-level application players come and take something directly to market. People will not be beholden to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) anymore.”

“The idea is for developers to take the kit and software support we have, and they can build and create applications for it,” Mukhopadhyay told TMCnet.

Like I said, I am jaded but I understand the potential here. Marvell makes it easier for the world to sell software and hardware solutions and developers will likely flock to this device to try their hand at developing new products on the cheap. With access to capital at an all-time low, and companies looking for inexpensive ways to get products to market, Marvell may have picked a good time to make their plug-computing platform available to the masses.

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