A tiny computer that resembles a three-pin plug has been launched in the UK and could soon be available in some form from the likes of Buffalo, Seagate, Lacie and D-Link.

Marvel's Plug Computer is designed to be inserted directly into a plug socket, and could be used as a low-powered home server, among other things.

Plug Computer UK Marvell introduced the Plug Computing initiative in the US earlier this year. The company describes it as a platform for high-performance, always-on, always connected, and environmentally friendly computers that are small enough to plug directly into the wall.

Developers in Europe can now purchase SheevaPlug development kits, outfitted for regional electrical specifications, through www.plugcomputer.org.

The SheevaPlug development platform uses a Marvell Kirkwood processor based on an embedded 1.2GHz Sheeva CPU equipped with 512MB of Flash and 512MB of DRAM.

The device connects to the home network via Gigabit Ethernet, while peripherals such as direct attached storage can be connected using a USB 2.0 port.

Marvel says that as it draw less than one tenth of the power of a typical PC being used as a home server, it can be left on all the time.