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Firmware methods for managing a concurrent hardware maintenance operation on a computer system.

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000194131D
Publication Date: 2010-Mar-17
Document File: 4 page(s) / 25K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Discussion of firmware methods for managing a concurrent hardware maintenance operation on a computer system.

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Page 1 of 4

Firmware methods for managing a concurrent hardware maintenance operation on a computer system.

1 Introduction of Requirements

A computer system providing concurrent hardware maintenance features via the interactions between a user interface, concurrently maintainable hardware that can be targeted by the operation, system software and system firmware may require one or more system firmware methods and algorithms dedicated to managing the concurrent maintenance operation such that the firmware requirements imposed by the concurrent maintenance architecture are met.

In this computer system the firmware architecture requirements include, but may not be limited to:

(1) A method to perform the operation while continuously maintaining information relevant to the status of the user interface, hardware and system software.

(2) Methods allowing command, event or interrupt driven control of the firmware supporting the operation.

(3) An algorithm to alter the flow of the operation upon error or cancellation without causing a system outage.

This following discussion describes methods, algorithms and data that could be used by the system firmware to meet these requirements. It is the position of this article that the system firmware is the best suited component to solve the problems posed by the firmware architecture requirements. Other solutions would be to embed these functions in the hardware or to abstract them to the user interface level, but implementation would introduce unnecessary cost to the customer wishing to own or maintain such a system and would inevitably lead to scope creep across component boundaries.

2 Summary of Proposed Methods and Data

One solution which satisfies the stated requirements is the following collection of system firmware objects, methods, data and algorithms:
(1) An executable object called a checkpoint, consisting of methods and data, which performs tasks required by the concurrent maintenance operation and maintains relevant system information needed to perform such tasks.
(2) A method to create a checkpoint group. The group is defined as a set of one or more checkpoints with an execution operator (method) that can be applied against any checkpoint in the set.
(3) An algorithm to regenerate the checkpoint set automatically and guarantee that the new set is contains a finite number of checkpoints.
(4) A method for processing commands, events or interrupts which can:
1. Invoke the method that creates the checkpoint group.
2. Apply the execution operator against any checkpoint in the set.
3. Run the algorithm to regenerate the checkpoint set.

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When combined with a computer firmware infrastructure that provides volatile and nonvolatile memory, hardware I/O devices and networking, these elements are used to create a management layer in the firmware capable of performing many of the tasks required to successfully complete a concurrent hardware maintenance operation. Robust error handling is also provided p...