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1.2GHz Plug Computer variant runs on under five Watts, costs $149

Feb 3, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

Globalscale Technologies announced a new Linux-based mini-PC incorporating the Marvell SheevaPlug Plug Computer design. The DreamPlug offers a 1.2GHz Marvell Armada processor, dual gigabit Ethernet ports, dual USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and audio functionality, and uses less than five Watts, says the company.

Globalscale Technologies is an official distributor of development kits for Marvell's open source Linux SheevaPlug Plug Computer designs, along with Ionics EMS and Universal Scientific Industries. The company also sells its own commercial Plug Computers, including the GuruPlug Server and GuruPlug Server Plus.

The DreamPlug builds upon the latter design, adding analog and digital audio functionality, new memory options, a redesigned enclosure, and an "innovative power supply arrangement," says Globalscale. 


The chassis redesign, touted for ensuring "efficient heat dissipation in the most challenging conditions," solves heat buildup problems that could occur in the GuruPlug Server Plus when it was clocked beyond 1GHz. (Owners of the GuruPlug Server Plus may call upon an upgrade kit that is said to alleviate the issue.)

Whereas most Plug Computer devices — including the popular Cloud Engines PogoPlug, which has inspired its own spinoffs — are focused principally on network attached storage (NAS) and remote access features, the DreamPlug is billed as a jack of all trades. The device supports NAS, home and industrial automation, security, smart grid, VoIP, medical monitoring, and general cloud computing applications, and can also act as an audio server, says the company.

The DreamPlug's versatility stems in large part from its offering a greater array of I/O than do most Plug Computers. Even still, it starts at a competitive $149.

Like the GuruPlug Server Plus, which is still available starting at $129, the DreamPlug is built on the Plug Computer design complete with a Marvell "Sheeva" Armada 168 processor clocked to 1.2GHz. This is said to support video output up to 720p quality.

The 4.33 x 2.74 x 1.91-inch computer is further equipped with 512MB of DDR2 RAM and 1GB of internal flash, with a microSD slot available for flash expansion. For greater storage needs, an eSATA port is provided.

DreamPlug left-side ports
(Click to enlarge)

Like the GuruPlug Server Plus, the DreamPlug provides dual gigabit Ethernet ports and dual USB 2.0 ports. In addition, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are provided, as is an optional USB/JTAG debug interface board made available via the microSD slot. The new audio features include S/PDIF digital out as well as analog out, and a microphone input is also available.

Unlike the original plug-in SheevaPlug design kit, which Globalscale Technologies still offers, the DreamPlug follows the lead of most commercial Plug Computer spinoffs by instead opting for a separate AC/DC power supply. Using DC power, the device is said to consume less than five Watts.

DreamPlug right-side ports
(Click to enlarge)

The DreamPlug offers the same open source Linux distributions as offered by Marvell's Plug Computer design, supporting Ubuntu and other Debian distros, as well as Uboot.

Features and specifications available with the DreamPlug include:

  • Processor — Marvell Sheeva Armada 168 processor @ 1.2GHz
  • Memory — 512MB DDR2 (800MHz); 1GB onboard microSD flash; 2MB SPI NOR flash for Uboot
  • Storage — microSD slot; eSATA 2.0 port (3Gbps)
  • Networking — 2 x gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Wireless networking — 802.11b/g; Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • USB — 2 x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Audio :
    • 48K/44.1 KHz sampling
    • 16-bit ADC/DAC
    • S/PDIF digital out with fiber interface
    • analog out (stereo headphone jack)
    • mic in
  • Debug:
    • optional USB-JTAG debug interface board via microSD slot
    • microSD to 20-pin JTAG header for alternate ICE interface
  • Power:
    • 100-240VAC/50-60Hz 19W
    • 5V/3.0A DC consumption
    • detachable AC-DC PSU
  • Dimensions — 4.33 x 2.74 x 1.91 inches (110 x 69.5 x 48.5mm), not counting separate power supply
  • Operating system — Ubuntu or Debian Linux; Marvell Plug Computer source with Uboot


The DreamPlug is available for purchase now in the U.S. starting at $149 ($178 with JTAG option), with shipments occurring later this month, and will be available in Europe, including the U.K. in March. More information may be found at Globalscale Technologies' DreamPlug page.

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