Marvell outs Plug Computer 3.0

Gets upgraded CPU, WiFi, Bluetooth and more

MARVELL’S PLUG COMPUTER has been given an overhaul just in time for CES and the new model looks set to be the greatest one yet. Marvell has moved away from its 1.2GHz Kirkwood SoC to the new 2GHz Armada 300 SoC. The Armada 300 is still based on Marvell’s Sheeva core, but Marvell hasn’t disclosed if the Armada 300 is based on the ARMv5 or ARMv7 architecture. Other new additions include WiFi, Bluetooth and an “internal hard drive”.

The original SheevaPlug gained a lot of attention in the media as Marvell hailed it as the $99 computer. Although capable of running several different Linux distributions, the SheevaPlug didn’t offer any display output, something the new Plug Computer 3.0 shares with it. The SheevaPlug development kit came with a Gigabit Ethernet port, a USB 2.0 port and an SD card slot as well as 512MB of RAM and 512MB of flash memory.

Although Marvell didn’t sell directly to end-users, its partners have sold over 10,000 SheevaPlugs to date which is an impressive number of systems if you consider that the SheevaPlug only launched in March 2009. The new model should appeal to a broader market due to the inclusion of both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as these technologies should allow for new usage scenarios to be developed. The ability to fit an internal storage device also makes it more appealing, despite increasing the size of the device enclosure. The new model does of course retain the Gigabit Ethernet interface and the USB 2.0 port.

Marvell does of course have its own ideas as to what the Plug Computer 3.0 can be used for, but how many of these that will actually become reality is a different matter. We can see it becoming a great candidate for a low-power home server as long as it’s easy enough for consumer to use. There are already several companies that offers solutions based on the SheevaPlug and we can see several more joining them once the Plug Computer 3.0 becomes available. The only concern is how much more expensive the new model will, as that $99 price tag was one of the things that helped make the SheevaPlug popular.S|A

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