Tuesday, July 22, 2008

CherryPal attempts to redefine PC

EE Times

PORTLAND, Ore. — A new "green" PC that consumes only 2 watts of power also lays claim to integrated software and "cloud computing" on a par with desktop PCs.

Based on embedded Linux and stripped down to support Open Office, FireFox browser, iTunes, instant messaging and multimedia access, the CherryPal C-100 includes 50 Gbytes of free cloud storage. The pricetag is under $250.

"Our goal was to offer a computer that has everything a desktop PC has today, but at a much lower price, consuming much less power and completely hassle free," said Max Seybold, CEO of CherryPal LLC (Mountain View, Calif.).

Linux operating system access is hidden from users, and all applications and system commands are managed by the browser whether executed locally or within new IT model called "cloud computing." Communications with the cloud are encrypted, upgrades are automatic and applications are claimed to be immune to viruses.

"We believe that our encryption algorithms are impossible to hack, making the CherryPal the most secure PC available today," Seybold claimed.

The 10.5-ounce CherryPal measures 1.3x5.8X4.2 inches and has no keyboard or monitors. It includes USB and VGA connections for those peripherals, plus integrated Wi-Fi and Ethernet ports. Four gigabytes of local flash memory for storage that acts as cache in addition to the 50 Gbytes of free cloud network storage.

The green PC takes 40 seconds to boot up and access applications and files.

CherryPal includes built-in Wi-Fi, Ethernet, USB and VGA interfaces with 4 Gbytes of local flash memory and "cloud" storage. It consumes 2 watts.

"We also plan to increase the number of applications in the cloud so that, eventually, CherryPal users will have access to all the software that other PCs use, but without having to buy, install and maintain them," said Seybold.

Besides a microprocessor and Wi-Fi controller, the rest of CherryPal's motherboard uses inexpensive interface components. Hence, it needs no expensive graphics processor or multimedia management coprocessors, according to Freescale Semiconductor (Austin, Texas), which supplies CherryPal's microprocessor.

"All the components you would see on the motherboard of a traditional PC are integrated into the Freescale MPC5121e mobileGT processor," said Mike Bryars, global manager for Mobile GT Computing at Freescale. "There are three cores in the MPC5121e, including an 800-MIPS [million instructions per second] main core, plus a multimedia core and a graphics processor core that offloads the main core."

Freescale's mobileGT processor runs at just 400 MHz, but CherryPal claims that users will attain speeds comparable to desktop PCs as a result of the claimed efficiency of its cloud-based software model.

"We have cut the fat from the operating system, and we are not exposing it to the user, which makes it very secure and enabled us to streamlined the application software and make the browser the main navigational tool," Seybold said.

All applications are accessed from the FireFox browser with file access automatically managed by the cloud network. Local flash storage holds the most frequently used files, plus any the user specifies as local. All files and software are synchronized with backups in cloud storage.