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Recovery of software for embedded systems after failure of their primary storage device

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000010749D
Original Publication Date: 2003-Jan-16
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jan-16
Document File: 2 page(s) / 41K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Disclosed is a system organisation for enabling install or re-install of software onto an appliance type device, said device being based on an off the shelf computer system. This system organisation improves service costs by enabling automation of the service procedures which require replacement of those components that store the appliance software, and avoiding the need to maintain a stock of field spares which hold up-to-date copies of that software. It also improves manufacturing costs by minimising component parts and automating steps for installing software. No changes are required to the off the shelf computer system on which the device is based.

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  Recovery of software for embedded systems after failure of their primary storage device

As the size and complexity of embedded systems grows it is no longer practical to store all the software for the embedded system in an EPROM, flash device or equivalent. Many modern embedded systems are now using cut down versions of operating systems which were originally designed for use on desktop machines and servers and require much higher amounts of storage. The natural progression for embedded systems is to use higher capacity storage devices such as hard disks on which to store the software. Storing software on a hard disks or equivalent introduces a new problem because the mean time between failures for a harddisc is less than that for a EPROM or flash device. The need to replace hard disks within an embedded product obviously increases the service cost for that product. However the additional cost can be minimised if the hard disk can be replaced with a standard off the shelf part rather than a hard disk that has a pre-installed image of the software for the embedded system.

The invention is to include recovery software on a second smaller storage device
(e.g. EPROM, flash device) which allows an embedded system to startup enough hardware to recover a copy of the software from an external source and hence avoid the need to provide hard disks that have a pre-installed image of the software as spare parts.

     The invention requires that the embedded system has two separate sources from which the system can boot. The primary device from which the system can boot is used to store the software (and possibly data) used by the embedded system under normal operation. The secondary device from which the system can boot is used to store the software used to recover the embedded system in the eventuality that the primary device fails. The secondary boot device is typically much smaller than the primary device because it is only required to store software to recover the system. Ideally the system is configured so that if the primary device fails or does not contain any software the system automaticall...