It's been just half a year since the first plug computer, the SheevaPlug, or the Plug Computer 1.0, was introduced, but Marvell is now ready to release the third generation of the product.
The company announced Tuesday at CES 2010 the Plug Computer 3.0, which it believes to be such an upgrade over the first one that it decided to designate it as the third (3.0) generation of the product, even though it's really the second.
The naming aside, the Plug Computer 3.0 seems indeed impressive. Sleek-looking and smaller than a deck of playing cards, the new mini computer is now much more powerful than the first generation. It's equipped with Marvell's brand-new ARMADA 300 processor, running at 2.0Ghz (as opposed to only 1.2Ghz of the Marvell Kirkwood processor that powers the SheevaPlug).
The new processor is also designed to use less energy and at the same time has better support for plug and play and streaming media. The Plug Computer 3.0 also offers many more options than the previous generation, including built-in storage and support for wireless networking and Bluetooth. And like the previous generation, it also has a built-in USB port and a Gigabit Ethernet port. The machine supports multiple standard Linux 2.6 kernel distributions, making it a great platform for application development.
If the SheevaPlug is a perfect solution for always on, always connected, low-power network storage, the Plug Computer 3.0 opens up to many different applications.
According to Marvell, the new mini computer helps lead its Plug Computer Intuitive to additional markets including: smart grid, home automation, medical monitoring, multimedia content sharing, security and access control, and so on.
This is definitely good news for the plug computing community, which has responded enthusiastically to Marvell's new idea of green computing since the SheevaPlug, of which more than 10,000 units have shipped so far.
Last month, Marvell launched a worldwide Plug Computer competition to seek the most innovated Plug Computer-based concept. It looks like participants now have even more power in their palm, quite literally, to free their imagination.