Original Publication Date: 2001-May-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-20
Computers have had a continual evolution of decreasing size and subsequent decreasing costs. As these reductions continue, one has to continually define what constitutes a particular type of computer. In the case of a "Server" the loose definition used by this disclosure, is a product that provides networked communications, mass storage, and processing capability for handling the communications and information contained on the mass storage. Thus to qualify for a "Minimal Server" the product would need to have at least one communications port, some mass storage, and a system processor all on a single board package. A key design point on a "Server" versus the more general "Computer" is that no user interface is required. Traditionally, the most common mass storage is the hard disk, and the hard disk has traditionally been a separate peripheral that connects to the rest of the system. This is where the heart of this disclosure lies. The hard disk has traditionally had its own controller board with a computer interface. Recently, the electronics on this board has become more integrated and thus the hard disk control and interface board has been shrinking. In the case of the popular 3.5 inch hard disk, the control and interface board only takes a small portion of the available board space. Like the mass storage control and interface board, the communications boards (Ethernet, Token Ring, Fiber Optic, etc) have been becoming more integrated to where the plug in boards have shrunk to not much more than the connectors and a chip or two. The system processor electronics has also been becoming more integrated to where we now have a some chips being called "System On a Chip" (a.k.a. SOC). These chips typically have at least one communications port (at least most of the electronics) on them. They may also have most of the interface electronics for connecting to an interface to the mass storage device. SOC processors generally do not have processing power of the bigger discrete CPUs, but there are numerous applications that do not need that much processing power, such as routers, gateways, DNS, and user password handling.