Gotta say I love the foot print of the new device; however, that it requires AC power is a definite negative. Power outlets on UPSs or PDMs are often at a premium and when they are a PoE device would give us the reason to move to PoE switches. Without PoE I have zero need to move to often overpriced PoE switches.
Assuming this connection would ever be needed, the other negative on the PLG1000 is its use of the soon-to-be outdated Mini-USB connection. Given the EU's recent move to force all cell phone makers to move to a universal charging connection, they've all moved to micro-USB. If Cisco is going to come to market with a brand new device, you have to move to what is becoming the universal connection.
This plug is not the official ID (industrial design) that we will use and it does not match all the features that the final Cisco product will have. For the real deal, PoE-PD is a mandatory requirement.
As for the USB type, let me check with Engineering.
I think you are looking at the console/JTAG port that is only on the prototype device (beside the SD slot). This is a USB device side serial port, for Cisco use only. That port won't be on the production units. The other USB port is the standard 'A' USB port and it should be on the production units in the same form as on these plugs.
Just for background, we've used an off-the-shelf unit to meet our trial interests beyond the original APP1000 units that we'd converted. These new units are more akin to developer systems using a popular Marvell chip set. We found these at a good price and felt they would most closely resemble the key features of a final device that we manufacture.
As Marcos noted, PoE is a 'must have' and he made sure I agreed with him ;-)
Yes, I was looking at the port next to the SD slot. I'm glad it won't be included. I still submit, however, that the old style "A" connector may be outdated and on its way out. Given all cell phones have gone to micro USB, I'm betting it will be very soon when all external HDDs go to it (they used to be all 'B' style connectors but have since moved to the mini USB and I'm bettng they all go to micro shortly if for no other reason than that's what people will have for their cell phones).
I'm also happy to hear that PoE will be included.
We'll certainly be watching current computers to see if they change from the current 'Standard' A connectors. I've not noticed any movement to change those in general, but with new devices like the Cius, and other smaller portable devices, that might host a USB connection in the future, I can see the value in the A connector going to 'Micro' A.
Thanks for bringing this up!
Computers absolutely still use the original USB 'A' connector, but most external devices like HDDs, cameras, and phones all use the much small mini B connctors and now that phones have moved to micro B I'm betting HDDs and cameras move that way quickly. Me personally, I'd like to see computers go to micro connetors too, that way I could have 12-16 connections and not just 6 or 8 in the same space without having to use a hub.
The different A and B plugs are intentional in the USB system - as we have a host (A) and a client (B) side. The same design on the host A side is retained for USB 3.0 standard, but additional contacts to a total of nine were added - and the connector core is now blue in SuperSpeed USB. Not sure if this one can still be combined with an eSATA port again. To fully destroy your wishes, the new USB 3.0 is bringing back a fat version of the Standard B with a "mini-B-like" 5 pin piggyback.
This industry is great for bean-counting (== keep the BOM low), no PM will keep any silicon nor physical connectors, if these are not absolutely required. Therefore, a GbE/PoE, and probably an optional power inlet is almost sufficient for the appliance job. What for do we need i.e. USB 2.0 host, USB 2.0 clients, or a SATA 2.0 ports for? Beyond GbE and to some extent the SD slot, all other interface variants on the SheevaPlug are outdated - or we can safely say the Marvell 6281 is somehow oldfashioned for a new appliance design - but Marvell has the next generation in the 1.6..2 GHz ARM cores almost ready, at least up to 1.8 GHz. This will bring some relief to the software people, too. Potentially, some local storage would be nice - many things we techies can think about of course. But then, I have seen to many aplpiances with more or less expensive storage connections, which were never enabled over the effective lifetime at all.
PS. Why bother about USB? Intel demoed Light Peak about a week ago!
PPS. But the beauty of USB remains: There is power available to operate many smaller devices.
Sorry to disagree on the cable selection. With 4.6+ billion cell phones world wide (ITU report 15 Feb 2010), there are far more cell phones that will be micro USB in the next year or two as older phones are replaced than every external HDD, printer, scanner, fax, etc... Micro USB is absolutely the new standard for lower speed devices such as the TBA. There's absolutely no need for USB 3.0 on a cell phone or TBA, today. There might be in years to come, but for now, there are going to be billions with a 'b' of micro USB cables out there where there will only be millions of USB 3.0 cables for perhaps 5 years (are there even any "real" machines (e.g. Dell, HP, etc...) shipping with USB 3.0 by default yet?). Regardless of which cable is found most often, mini USB is dead.
I do, however, agree totally that if no connection is needed that no connection should be supplied. It will cut cost and reduce what I call the "dummy syndrome" where some fool decides to see what it will do and then ends up breaking something.
For me, the differentiation is that the Thunderbolt is a 'host' and a cell phone is a 'device'. I think you are right about the device side (B) being micro-usb for some time to come. I don't see any emerging trend for the host side (A) changing from the current USB 2.0 'Standard' connectors. That being said, I'm sure that there will be changes to the host side as more of the highly portable table devices do double time as both host and device.
The basic intent of retaining the USB-A connector (assuming the SDHC slot is there) to provide some path to support functions we haven't yet encountered much demand for, or even thought of. This could include adding an extra NIC, maybe adding a serial dongle so that the TBA could be used to bootstrap an IOS device config, or conceivably doing some kind of Valet-style security setup for workstations and laptops via a memory key. At least for now USB-A is the only form that is widely supported for these kinds of devices.
I'm a big proponent of using SD for removable storage (and preserving PoE for that matter), and sometimes they listen to me. But it is plausible that the SDHC slot might not survive in the final hardware depending on cost in which case the USB-A would be the only path to cheap removable storage.
USB A is fine since it can be used for memory sticks if needed, my point is the mini USB. It's dead and I don't think there is a distinction between "host" and "device", they are one and the same. As micro USB takes off with cell phones, it will, just as it did for USB B, mean the death of mini USB on all devices and that means consumers are going to have lots of micro and will have tossed all their mini cables. I might have 3 or 4 USB A to USB B cables lying around for old external HDDs, but most have been tossed as obsolete. Just like parallel printer cables, they're dead and thus in the trash.
As for SD for storage. SD is all but dead too. MicroSD is here to stay given you can get 32GB sticks now and 8GB sticks are < $20 each one at a time. Yes, there are adapters for them, but they get lost. IMHO, the only removable media should be USB B as they're dirt cheap and are much larger and don't get lost, unless you intend for TBA customers to insert and leave the stick for ever. In that case, just dump 8GB in it and be done with it. Surely Cisco could incorporate a 8GB micro SD chip for 75% less than what consumers would pay for an individual 8GB stick which would bring the cost down to perhaps $4 per device, hardly a deal breaker. That also means no improperly inserted sticks, no lost sticks, no stolen sticks, etc...
Very lively topic. Thanks to all for facts, arguments and opinions. These will better inform our hardware design decisions ... for the first appliance type and appliances going forward.