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Mechanism for "Supersetting" Hardware Functions by a Feature Option

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000118258D
Original Publication Date: 1996-Nov-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Apr-01
Document File: 2 page(s) / 68K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Nissen, JP: AUTHOR

Abstract

A mechanism for supersetting a hardware function involves designing the hardware in such a way so that if more function is desired, a hardware add-on card can be added that provides all of the base function plus new extended functions that are not capable with the original hardware configuration. This is especially helpful in price-sensitive machines where hardware costs are attempted to be kept to a minimum. A much improved set of features can be supported with the new add-in card while still providing all of the standard set of functions. A service processor card option was the basis of this type of design.

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Mechanism for "Supersetting" Hardware Functions by a Feature Option

      A mechanism for supersetting a hardware function involves
designing the hardware in such a way so that if more function is
desired, a hardware add-on card can be added that provides all of the
base function plus new extended functions that are not capable with
the original hardware configuration.  This is especially helpful in
price-sensitive machines where hardware costs are attempted to be
kept to a minimum.  A much improved set of features can be supported
with the new add-in card while still providing all of the standard
set of functions.  A service processor card option was the basis of
this type of design.

      A low-cost server design was the basis for a project called
the Service Processor (SP).  The Service Processor was a piece of
hardware and software that monitored the condition of the server.  If
any anomaly was detected, the operating system was notified of the
problem along with an error log entry.  In severe problems, the
service processor would steal control of the machine serial ports and
use a modem to call home to a service center.

      Due to cost constraints, the SP was removed from the base
machine features and it was defined that the SP be available as an
optional piece of hardware.  In order to make the SP optional,
required making the SP interface flexible.  A base set of SP-like
features was desired but a full set of SP capabilities could not be
afforded.  In order to meet both objectives, a hardware supersetting
mechanism was created.

      A base system microcontroller was dedicated to the base
system.  It was a very low-cost part that provided a minimum set of
capabilities.  It provided a mechanism to allow the system to display
messages on...