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Identifying Field Replacement Parts by Querying and Reporting Vital Product Data Disclosure Number: IPCOM000012964D
Original Publication Date: 1999-Dec-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-11

Publishing Venue


Related People

Wesley Miller Paul Goetz


Disclosed is a method to allow diagnostic programs to report the information necessary to order replacements for units which have been diagnosed as "failed". Such items might include subsystems or adapters in a larger system which supports diagnostics able to isolate individual failing units or entire systems equipped with a separate diagnostic or status monitoring subsystem which can independently diagnose all elements and subelements of the system. The reported information is, or is derived from, Vital Product Data stored on the system, subsystem or adapter. Computers and similar electronic equipment frequently consist of a common main processor assembly (the motherboard or system card) and a number of subunits either built onto the main system card, plugged into it (as is common in desktop PCs) or connected via a common interconnection card (frequently called a "backplane"). Additionally, it is common for the processor on the motherboard or system card to execute a main or host program which controls the entire assembly. In order for that host program to communicate with the attached subsystems and adapters (and possibly an intelligent backplane) it is necessary for those parts of the system to be able to identify themselves, that is, the host program must have some method to ask each part of the system "What are you In many products the method used to query the identity of subsystems is defined by the interconnection architecture e.g. the PCI or Microchannel bus specification). When an identification query is issued each item on such busses responds with it's assigned product identifier (e.g. the PCI vendor ID and device ID). Frequently, this is the only information available from the subsystem. However, designs are common which also provide a mechanism for the subsystem to carry on it, stored information including it's re-order part number, serial number, date of manufacture and the like. That information, commonly referred to as the Vital Product Data, VPD, is of great interest to a customer, user or field service engineer when it comes time to order replacement parts. The VPD can be read by a host program using any of several physical methods. Such methods usually fall into two broad categories: