SheevaPlug, Tiny Linux Server


This little wall plug is actually a full computer with 1.2GHz cpu, with 512MB of RAM and 512MB of of flash memory. It comes with versions of linux, ported for its ARM processor. At $50, this cool system could be finding itself in a lot of homes. You can get more information from the manufacturer. What uses can you think of for it?

[thanks, everyone who sent this in]

132 thoughts on “SheevaPlug, Tiny Linux Server

  1. First thing to come to my mind was: “OMG $50!! I can replace my broken server with that!”

    It would probably run an FTPd and an SSHd (d is daemon, dummy :D) so i could plug it in next to the router and use it to send files home from school!

  2. the $50 price drop is not in the near future. It is not possible to add lcd or any display device, sine it is not available in the pcb. The pcb itself doesnt offer much of a hardware hack, but still, there might be ways… The schematic and board layout is available at marvell’s website.

  3. the cpu is not capable of interfacing to a lcd device. It is not in the function of the cpu, based on the hardware and functional datasheet of the 88F6281 processor. too bad, still. who needs gui, when this can run silently on the background. another webserver would be great

  4. hell with homes. I can sneak that puppy into any corperate setting and have it sit there sniffing usernames and passwords and then send them home for collection.

    I’m betting that puppy would go unnoticed behind the copier or printer for years.

    It’s an awesome corperate espionage tool!

  5. Just ordered one, they are $115.00 with shipping and NOT $50.00 like some people think. You cant get to $50.00 unless you order 10,000 of them.

    I’d like to know who pulled the $50.00 price out of their butt.

  6. This would be killer if it had a VGA port or something like that. There should be a GPIO port or something like that with a device socket. That way, you could add your own display adapter module, WiFi module, surveillance camera, etc.

    As for home automation, one could outfit this device for Control4 as well as X-10.

    I wonder if the PCI-E 1X slot is being used for anything in this implementation? One could add one of those 1X video cards if a driver could be thrown together.

    Heh, Blender 3D on a wallwart.


  7. This device ($50), an old X-Terminal, like a HP Entria ($10) and a cheap TFT ($50) is all you need. Add a 8GB USB-Stick ($10) for storage.

    $120 for a silent, powersaving X-Workstation.

  8. if this had 2 ethernet ports, it would increase the likelihood of me getting one. It would be then i deal to be a small, highly flexible home internet connection sharing and server that takes up very little total space.

  9. Seems to big to small and to small to be big.
    I can see a few jobs for it, stuff you’ld like to do with a microcontroller but can’t. Say video motion detection or verifying fingerprint scans. but to me, 9 times out 10 a server ain’t no good without a terabyte of harddrives.

  10. I have a small NAS/Firewall based on an VIA ITX platform that sucks down about 50 watts. I’d love to replace it with this, using less power, with a smaller form factor, and likely less flakey than x86 hardware. It’s clearly headless meaning its probably possible to remotely admin (from the couch) the box should the need arise.

    I just wish it had more USB ports and an extra ethernet. If I decided to pull the trigger, the first thing I’ll do is rip it open and look for extra USB headers. The ethernet, i can almost live with just 1.

  11. if these things get prevalent and result in ADSL connections being used as ad-hoc game/irc/multiuser servers with dyndns or something expect ISP’s to bitch and moan or increase latency on the upstream

  12. Those saying it cant drive an lcd, I’ll bet you $260,000US right now that I can get a LCD on it in 30 minutes. It even has GPIO pins available to drive a serial LCD if I wanted to.

    did you guys even look at it?

  13. @ Fartface (69): Graphic, vga/dvi lcd, not character or serial lcd. This is a dev computer, with full schematic online at the manufacturer. The cpu does not have a native lcd or vga controller, and even if it did, it is not brought out from under the cpu, like the mini pci slot. You would need to revision the board.

  14. displaylink usb lcd<- if you have linux drivers why not. ecommerce not working? use internet explorer not firefox. too less usb? use usb hub. its not $50 people. no lcd? i was pertaining to graphic lcd with touchscreen, same with cellphones. the gpio is kinda limited, and not much interfaced in the pcb. so for video, sorry, theres no direct connection.

  15. @fartface: If you read the link it clearly states that “For those that do wish to build products on the platform, volume pricing could fall to $50, Marvell expects.” Like you said, 10,000 qty, no JTAG board to worry about. Also expect some markup from the platform cost, and oh look, you can already pre-order the Pogoplug for $79 :).

    @bart_65: yes, that is a cool product with working features, but it is nowhere near as fast, doesn’t come with as much ram, storage, etc.

  16. TROJAN HORSE TORRENT DOWNLOADER! Plug this bag boy into a network (maybe tucked away in a corner of WalMart?), pop on a 500GB external hard drive, connect (remotely) via SSH, and control it. It’s like hacking into a remote computer, but in reverse. You could use it to do things (like download torrents) for several weeks, then just collect it when you’re ready to claim your loot!

  17. This is as $50 as the $100 notebook is $100.

    also, this is a proof of concept from the chip maker. and it’s a box on a chip. so, $50 is probably *their* base price.

    now add their profit +80%, transportation +100%, dealer profit +30%.

  18. The truth on this one.

    This is ACTUALLY being sold at about $99/unit. $50 is a speculative bulk rate, probably for orders 10k units or more. Manufacturing costs are probably high as it’s not a mass-production item, just a development kit. Odds are, it won’t ever hit that low unless ***mart chooses to carry it and then forces it’s prices down.

    It’s not intended for consumers to use directly… it’s intended as a development platform, although it does have an out-of-the-box simple server capability.

    For those worried about it’s size and concealability… Consider that my cell phone is capable of most of what this thing does (and more besides) at about half of the size. Furthermore, it can run without AC for several hours and therefore can be shoved just about anywhere. Beyond that, I’ve got a La Fonera which runs on batteries which could serve many nefarious purposes in the same way.

    Back to this gadget… I can think of some silly projects like a twittering nightlight and some mundane projects like networking printers or acting as the brains for a CNC device. Here’s my first thought though, can it be hacked to remove the AC transformer? If so, a carputer project could be fun or if you can make it light enough it becomes a base for a cheap wearable PC.

  19. not to through too much water on the parade, but I’d like to see a vga port on this thing… not everybody wants to go headless.

    Or should i just mount a pico-itx on the back of my monitor.

  20. jesus, this is the problem with poor journalism. Someone writes an article (well meaning or not), people of low intelligence only bother to read the caption or the summary, then run with those statements without actually discovering if they are true or not.

    The article CLEARLY states that it is a $100 development kit, you can order it RIGHT NOW for $100. Where exactly is the disconnect?

    btw, as an aside, read a few articles on anchoring and you will realize how many terrible price based judgments you’ve made in the past :)

    @powerondude: good idea, you can be the first to add one to this *platform* and use it for something brilliant :). On the other hand, it could turn out like my satellite receiver. It has USB and powerline networking circuitry, both of which are completely unused, cost them god knows how much.

  21. i’d put several around the house with usb powered motors/switchs for homeautomation, a bluetooth usb dongle for a full house bluetooth grid reception

    then use the cell phone app as a home automation controler by bluethoot

    and maybe use all of them for cloud processing.

  22. This is indeed a really cool product but they will release it by end of march and only at 99$/ developer kits. The thing I’m missing is WIFI. Because you plug it in somewhere to do some automation etc but you’ll need to have an ethernet connection nearby. Luckily an usb-wifi stick can resolve this issue (if the drivers work on it, remember it is arm!). Apart from that, this is the product most hackers have been looking for :). This is why everyone was hacking the routers to have a linux device that uses low power and can be left on 24/7…

  23. web server.
    circumventer… school and work cant stop you from reaching your beloved myspace!
    NAS with the addition of a usb drive.
    firewall with usb nic.
    media server.
    seedbox (leave it run at work, school, or anywhere really if you added some wifi via usb)

    I would buy at least one of these now if it would run FreeNAS but it is freeBSD and this thing seems to be linux :(

  24. I ordered a devkit for this, for $99 But the transaction did not complete on the website. I did not receive acknoledgement, but my payment was completed via paypal. I emailed, buy they wont reply to acknowledge that they received my payment. Talk about customer support, all I wanted was for them to verify that they received my order. I was charged $99 no shipping… Yet Im from another country. oh what to do.

  25. “can it be hacked to remove the AC transformer?”

    Yes. Anything with a transformer runs DC. All you might need to discover would be the Volts and Amps that it the converter runs the DC at, then you can build an appropriate circuit for your vehicle and throw away the AC inverting parts.

    Also… this could be used with home climate control, food growing box control, PV array automation and a number of “out of town” chore purposes. Maybe it might replace every aspect of your home caretaker (when out of town?) except for picking up your mail?

    It certainly has a lot of potential, in any event, just like an intel macmini.

  26. “Anything with a transformer runs DC”

    That’s not true…

    “All you might need to discover would be the Volts and Amps that it the converter runs the DC at, then you can build an appropriate circuit for your vehicle and throw away the AC inverting parts.”

    The block diagram in the article shows that the unit runs off of 5 volts, and since the unit is claiming to use 5 watts or less, that comes out to about one amp…..

  27. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for to plug in behind my TV. With the USB it can be used with my external drive enclosure and a USB wifi thingum as a NAS. I can also hook up a webcam to have a constant view from my flat which I’ve always wanted to do. Actually with a USB to composite adapter I can also use it is a little media centre, judging from the good video playback on the ARM chip in the GP2X, this should be no problem. Porting stuff to this thing should also be a breeze in general.

  28. >>”“Anything with a transformer runs DC”

    >>That’s not true…”

    I was speaking with regards to these kinds of devices, not on a broader scale. I did not intend to mislead a reader and your point is valid.

    I did not review the block diagram closely enough to determine the actual values needed by the device, but provided a general bit of thought as to how it might apply in the case asked about, implying that the reader needs to go read (discover) the article.

  29. You cannot enable internal sata support on this one. The main chip comes in BGA package and according to schematics sata pins are not routed. Also Marwell did not release pin layouts of this chip.
    Video card and wifi would have probably doubled the price. Face reality here. Besides, Intel is going for that market segment with their Atom CPUs. Also there are Atheros AP81 and Realtek RT3502 socs that both run at 400MHz. Plenty of competition around here. Video card, wifi, sata etc. can be done with usb.

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