Plug-sized PCs arrive in UK

Marvell brings plug-sized computers to the UK for the first time

Barry Collins
24 Jun 2009

A new type of PC which is incorporated into a conventional three-point plug is being released in the UK.

The Plug Computer is based on a platform developed by US semiconductor firm, Marvell.

The device squeezes a 1.2GHz processor, 512MB of DRAM, 512MB of NAND Flash memory, plus Ethernet and USB ports into a unit no larger than a plug adaptor.

The headless computer plugs straight into the wall, acting as a tiny, low-powered home server.

Marvell claims that the platform has dozens of potential applications, including media server, home automation and security.

One Plug Computer device already on sale in the US is called the Pogoplug. This allows the user to plug a hard disk into the USB port and use the device as a home media server.

Once connected to the router, the Pogoplug automatically scours PCs on the home network for media files and copies them to the USB hard disk. Those files can then be accessed remotely, using a simple web interface.

Files - such as digital photos taken with a smartphone - can also be uploaded directly to the Pogoplug, saving the need to store files on third-party services such as Flickr.

"We allow the cloud to truly come into the home," Marvell vice president Dr Simon Milner told PC Pro. "You can define a personal domain from within the cloud, which you can't do today."

Milner also claims the Plug Computer offers far better performance and reliability than public cloud services. "You've got a full, dedicated 1.2GHz server that you're connected to," he said.

The Plug Computer platform is energy efficient, according to Milner, consuming only 2 to 5 watts in normal operation and only 50 milliwatts on standby.

Marvell is throwing the Linux-based Plug Computing platform open to developers, and inviting them to design their own applications for the devices.

Companies such as Buffalo, Seagate, Lacie and D-Link will also soon release products based on the Plug Computer platform.

Milner claims its product partners will drive the cost of the device down to below $50 (£30).

Read more about: