Last time we saw the SMILE Plug cloud computer, it was nothing more than a render -- an alabaster box with dual external antennas and a glowing green (or red) visage to let you know when it's functioning properly. We were told that it would be a dev kit that creates an ad-hoc network within a classroom that serves up to 60 devices at once using Arch Linux ARM, and can run off a wall outlet or a battery pack. Well, that bit of vaporware has coalesced into what you see above, and it seems that Marvell has delivered everything it promised. The final SMILE Plug packs 512MB of RAM, a 2Ghz single-core Armada 370 SoC and an enterprise-class 802.11 a/b/g/n Avastar WiFi chip to ensure high connectivity and power efficiency at a low monetary cost. It also has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, dual USB 2.0 plugs and a microSD slot for folks needing more than the 512MB of onboard storage. As currently configured, the SMILE Plug will cost around $30, and it'll start shipping to Stanford's SMILE (Stanford Mobile Inquiry-based Learning Environment) pilot programs next month.
Marvell doesn't plan to be the only one building these cloud computers, however, which is where the SMILE Consortium comes in. You see, the SMILE Plug is but a reference design, and Marvell and Stanford are trying to get OEMs building their own SMILE Plugs. The consortium is dedicated to "developing innovative education solutions on an open platform" and is seeking both hardware manufacturers and software developers to meet its goal of changing educational environments around the world. What kind of classroom do Stanford and Marvell envision, and how does the SMILE Plug fit into it? Join us after the break to find out.
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