Plug computer

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Marvell Technology Group's SheevaPlug plug computer in action
CloudPlug, a plug computer developed by CTERA Networks
Seagate Dockstar, a plug computer similar to the SheevaPlug

A plug computer is an external device, often configured for use in the home or office as a compact computer. It consists of a high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip processor with several I/O ports (USB ports, ...) and typically runs any of a number of Linux distributions. Most versions do not have provisions for connecting a display and are best suited as for running media server, back-up services, file sharing and remote access functions, thus acting as a bridge between in-home protocols such as Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) and Server Message Block (SMB) and cloud based services. There are, however, plug computer offerings that have analog VGA monitor and/or HDMI connectors, which, along with multiple USB ports, permit the use of a display, keyboard, and mouse, thus making them full-fledged, low-power alternatives to desktop and notebook computers.

The name "plug computer" is derived from the small configuration of such devices: plug computers are often enclosed in an AC power plug or AC adapter.

Plug computers typically consume little power and are inexpensive. One manufacturer claims its $119 plug computer draws 1.2 watts and can cost $2 a year to run.[1]


A number of other devices of this type began to appear at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show.

  • On January 6, 2009 CTERA Networks launched a device called CloudPlug that provides online backup at local disk speeds and overlays a file sharing service.[2] The device also transforms any external USB hard drive into a network-attached storage device.[3][4]
  • On January 7, 2009, Cloud Engines unveiled Pogoplug network access server.[5][6][7][8]
  • On January 8, 2009, Axentra announced availability of their HipServ platform.[9]
  • On February 23, 2009, Marvell Technology Group announced its plans to build a mini-industry around plug computers.[10][11]
  • On August 19, 2009, CodeLathe announced availability of their TonidoPlug network access server.[12]
  • On November 13, 2009 QuadAxis launched its plug computing device product line and development platform, featuring the QuadPlug and QuadPC and running QuadMix, a modified Linux.[13]
  • On January 5, 2010, Iomega announced their iConnect network access server.[14]
  • On January 7, 2010 Pbxnsip launched its plug computing device the sipJack running pbxnsip: an IP Communications platform.[15]

ChipPC is another one.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tonidoplug 2 technical specifications". Archived from the original on April 6, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  2. ^ "CTERA Networks Launches, Introduces Cloud Attached Storage" (Press release). Ctera networks. 6 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  3. ^ Nelson, Fritz (January 11, 2009). CTERA at CES: USB as NAS and Cloud Backup. TechWebTV. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  4. ^ Lawson, Stephen (January 6, 2009). "Startup Ctera will offer cloud storage through carriers". Network World. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  5. ^ Clark, Don; Christopher Lawton (January 8, 2009). "Gadgets for Leaner Times". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  6. ^ Needleman, Rafe (January 7, 2009). "Pogoplug puts any hard drive on the Internet". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  7. ^ Lester, Dave (January 12, 2009). "Consumer electronics: Take a peek at geek chic". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  8. ^ Pogoplug brings easy file sharing to your home network. Fast Company. January 7, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  9. ^ "Axentra Announces HipServ 2.0 for PlugTop Computing" (PDF) (Press release). Axentra. January 8, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  10. ^ Clark, Don (February 23, 2009). "Marvell Bets on Plug Computers". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  11. ^ "Marvell Introduces Plug Computing ─ High-Performance, Low-Power, Exceptionally Small Computer for Managing and Storing Digital Media Assets" (Press release). Marvell Technology Group. February 24, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
  12. ^ "CodeLathe introduces TonidoPlug". CodeLathe. 12 August 2009.
  13. ^ "QuadAxis Launches Plug Computers". QuadAxis. 13 November 2009.
  14. ^ "Iomega's New iConnect Wireless Data Station: Share Files, Manage Torrents, Access Your Data Remotely, Backup Your PC and Mac And Much More for Only $99". Iomega. 5 January 2010.
  15. ^ "pbxnsip Demonstrate Sheeva Plug compatibility". pbxnsip. January 7, 2010.

External links[edit]

Media related to Plug computers at Wikimedia Commons