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15 May 2008, 14:18

Asus expands its Splashtop Linux support

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DeviceVM announced on Wednesday that Asus is expanding their use of Splashtop by embedding it into four new motherboard models; P5Q Deluxe, P5Q-WS, P5Q3 Deluxe, and P5Q-E. This brings the total of Asus Splashtop-enabled motherboards up to twelve.

Splashtop is an “instant on” technology that allows users to run a browser, or other core applications on their PCs, within seconds of hitting the power-on button. It uses a tiny version of Linux embedded on the motherboard in flash memory. This runs as a virtual machine and although it will happily co-exist with other operating systems such as Windows, Splashtop alone is enough to run basic tasks on a PC. In principle Splashtop is almost identical to the tiny Linux environments run out of flash, found in ultra low cost/low power computers like the OLPC, but in this case applied to larger desktop machines. The applications available under Splashtop are of necessity limited and depend on the version used. The first version had only an web browser and Skype, but like all flash software it is possible to up-date Splashtop from a suitable file, within the limits of the flash capacity.

Perhaps the chief use of Splashtop is for those occasions when a users PC is turned off and they need to quickly check something on the internet or make a quick VoIP call. Unfortunately it doesn't make loading other operating systems, such as Windows, any faster.

The source code for Splashtop is available on request under the GPL and the company is working on an SDK which should be available shortly.

Asus premiered Splashtop, which they brand as “Express Gate”, on their high-end motherboards in October 2007 and on their mainstream M3 series in January 2008. The four new models will be available in the last quarter of 2008. Joe Hsieh, General Manager, ASUS Motherboard Business Unit, says that “In response to great user feedback, our plan is to proliferate Express Gate across our entire motherboard product portfolio, starting with over one million motherboards per month,” – “Consumers want to turn their PCs on and off like any other appliance, and Express Gate has made that possible.”

(Terry Relph-Knight)


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