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The SheevaPlug NAS mini-PC is back with dual -A53 Sheeva64

Feb 14, 2019 — by Eric Brown — 1007 views

Globalscale announced a $89 “Sheeva64” version of the old SheevaPlug NAS mini-PC that runs Ubuntu on Marvell’s dual-core -A53 Armada 3720 with 2x GbE, 3x USB, optional wireless, and a wall-power plug.

Globascale Technologies has resurrected Marvell’s old open-spec SheevaPlug mini-PC NAS design built around the same dual-core, Cortex-A53 Marvell Armada 3720 SoC it used in its circa-2016, Pico-ITX form-factor EspressoBin network switching SBC. The long-time Marvell partner has opened $89 pre-orders for the Ubuntu-powered Sheeva64, with shipments due in April.



Sheeva64 and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Back before there were many open source SBCs — the groundbreaking BeagleBoard debuted in 2008 –- the Linux hacker platforms of choice were routers and NAS devices. Many of them, such as the Qnap TS-1090, were often equipped with Marvell Armada SoCs. Noting this trend, in 2009 Marvell released a unique, open source device called the SheevaPlug that ran Linux on a 1.2GHz, Arm-based Marvell 88F6000, or “Kirkwood” SoC.


SheevaPlug

Resembling a “wall-wart” power adapter, the 4.0 x 2.5 x 2.0-inch SheevaPlug plugged directly into an electrical outlet, drawing only 5 Watts. The simple networking mini-PC was equipped with 512MB of DRAM, 512MB of flash, a USB 2.0 port for network-attached storage (NAS), and a Gigabit Ethernet port, which was still something of a rarity back then, especially in the Arm world.

Marvell, which these days is a much larger company — last year it acquired Cavium for about $6.1 billion — no longer supports the SheevaPlug, but Globalscale has picked up the open design for the first new spinoff in years. Like some of the early NAS systems based on the SheevaPlug, but unlike the later, Sheeva-based Pogoplug models from Cloud Engines, the Sheeva64 retains the old wall-plug design.

The 110 x 70 x 49mm Sheeva64 (compared to 101.6 x 63.5 x 50.8mm for the original) is preloaded with Ubuntu 18.04 on the headless, 1.2GHz Armada 3720. Fedora 14 or later is recommended for debugging.



Sheeva64 detail view (left) and legend
(click images to enlarge)

The Sheeva64 is equipped with 1GB DDR4, 4GB eMMC, and a microSD slot. You also get 2x GbE and 2x USB 2.0 host ports, as well as a micro-USB OTG port and a mini-USB port for a debug console. A wireless module with 2×2 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.2 BLE is a $16 option.

The Sheeva64 includes Ethernet and mini-USB to USB cables. There’s also an AC power cord in case you want to remove the retro plug and replace it with a power jack.

 
Further information

The Sheeva64 is available for pre-order for $89 or $105 with the wireless module. Shipments are due in April. The CNXSoft story that alerted us the Sheeva64 notes that you can pre-order without a credit card: “Make sure you don’t enter your credit card details, and select “pre-order” or you’ll be charged.”

More information may be found on the Globalscale Technologies Sheeva64 product and shopping page.

 

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3 responses to “The SheevaPlug NAS mini-PC is back with dual -A53 Sheeva64”

  1. Robert Ducksworth says:

    Other than the form factor, does this offer anything that a host of other SBCs don’t offer? It doesn’t appear (to me) to do so, and the price is kind of high these days.

  2. Jonathan Scott says:

    The big advantages for me would be two gigabit Ethernet ports that are not connected to a USB hub or Shari g any bandwidth with USB. A very small handful of SBCs have that, and most are higher in price. Also, if it includes the topaz network switch like the espressobin, that’s big for someone using it for routing etc. But I see why the specs wouldn’t jump off the page for more typical SBC applications (if we’ve even gotten to the point where there is a typical).

  3. Kelly Anderson says:

    I bought the original SheevaPlug way back in the day…the days before Raspberry Pi. It did me quite a bit of good at that time. Used it for a file-server until I replaced it with an original CuBox. I’m now in the process of swapping the CuBox out with an EspressoBin.

    For my needs I much prefer the EspressoBin. Pretty much the same price, has an extra ethernet port and keeps the power supply separate from the computer. I had the power supply fail on my old SheevaPlug and had to buy it from GlobalScale rather than just plugging in a generic replacement power supply.

    What’s not readily apparent to the typical SBC user is that these devices have Marvell chips that are designed from the get-go for use as networking devices. They don’t do things like share bandwidth with the other peripherals, so they perform better in networking tasks, i.e. firewalling.

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