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Plug computer design used for storage docking station

Oct 2, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Seagate announced a hard disk drive (HDD) network adapter and docking station called the FreeAgent DockStar, based on Marvell's Linux-based SheevaPlug Plug Computer reference design. Meanwhile, Real Time Logic's Linux-compatible application web server software has been released in a SheevaPlug-compatible version.

Seagate's FreeAgent DockStar network adapter connects HDDs to a network, enabling content sharing across the network or over the web, says the company. The FreeAgent DockStar provides a dock for Seagate's FreeAgent Go hard disk drives (HDDs), and also supports other types of storage devices via three USB ports, says Seagate. Measuring 3.4 x 3.4 x 1.5 inches, the device also offers the gigabit Ethernet port supplied by Marvell's popular SheevaPlug Plug Computer design (see farther below for more on SheevaPlug).

Seagate FreeAgent DockStar

Touted for its plug and play installation, the DockStar shows up on a networked PC or Mac as another storage icon, says the company. Files are viewable by thumbnail or lists, and users can search by file name or media type. An iPhone app enables iPhone users to send photos directly to the DockStar.

BarracudaDrive for the SheevaPlug

Last month, Real Time Logic (RTL) announced that its BarracudaDrive application web server was available in a version supporting Marvell Plug Computer designs. A SheevaPlug startup script configures BarracudaDrive for a Plug Computer, enabling up to 2000 simultaneous socket connections, says the company.

RTL's BarracudaDrive is a Linux-compatible, secure application server assembled from selected plugins used in the company's Barracuda Embedded Web Server. Designed for personal and home use, it provides remote file management and enables the loading and starting of auxiliary applications, says RTL.

BarracudaDrive includes a SQLite database driven Content Management System (CMS), a secure WebDAV file server, a secure Web File Manager, and a HTTPS tunnel, says RTL. It also includes RTL's Lua integrated scripting language and Lua Server Pages (LSP) technology, which is described as a lighter, faster, more modular alternative to PHP. The server has long been available for the Linux-based Cisco/Linksys NSLU2 networked-attached storage (NAS) server.

Marvell's SheevaPlug Plug Computer

Marvell's $100 SheevaPlug reference platform and Plug Computer designs are built around the Marvell 88F6000 ("Kirkwood") SoC. The Plug Computer is based on the high-end 88F6281 version of the Kirkwood, with an ARM-derived "Sheeva" architecture CPU core clocked to 1.2GHz. Drawing only five Watts, the tiny Plug Computer plugs directly into an electrical socket.

Marvell SheevaPlug Plug Computer

The SheevaPlug Plug Computer is equipped with 512MB of DRAM and 512MB of flash, as well as gigabit Ethernet and USB 2.0 ports. The SheevaPlug development kit supports standard Linux 2.6 kernel distributions, including specific support for ARM ports of Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian, and Gentoo, says the company.

Early hardware licensees of the SheevaPlug design include Ctera Networks for its CloudPlug NAS device, and CloudEngines for its Pogoplug, which enables remote viewing of external storage devices via a web browser. More recently, WebTView announced a WebTVPlug IPTV receiver based on the SheevaPlug design, and Marvell announced that networked-attached storage (NAS) device vendors Buffalo, D-Link, LaCie, and Seagate will offer SheevaPlug-based NAS devices. In August, Eyecon Technologies announced a media "control point" reference design based on the SheevaPlug.

Stated Seagate's Andy Horwitz, senior director of product line management for Seagate's Branded Solutions, "Seagate's DockStar product extends the concept of Plug Computing by delivering simple plug-and-play networked storage, which allows for easy sharing, access and control of digital content with anyone, anywhere, anytime; whether they are in another room or across the country."


The FreeAgent DockStar is available now with one year of service for remote access and sharing, for a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $100. More information can be found here.

The BarracudaDrive for Marvell's SheevaPlug is available now. According to RTL, BarracudaDrive for SheevaPlug "is delivered without the license manager, but BarracudaDrive is a commercial product and requires purchasing a license if using the product beyond the 45 day trial period." More information may be found here.

More information on the SheevaPlug Plug Computer design may be found here.

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