Modular disk drive assembly operatively mountable in industry

Modular disk drive assembly operatively mountable in industry
USOO5822184A
United States Patent [19]
[11]
Patent Number:
Rabinovitz
[45]
Date of Patent:
[54]
5,822,184
Oct. 13, 1998
MODULAR DISK DRIVE ASSEMBLY
5,067,041
OPERATIVELY MOUNTABLE IN INDUSTRY
5,224,019
6/1993 Wong et al.
STANDARD EXPANSION BAYS 0F
5,420,750
5/1995 Freige et al. .......................... .. 361/695
PERSONAL DESKTOP COMPUTERS
Inventor: Josef Rabinovitz, 5229 Beckford Ave.,
TarZana, Calif. 91356
11/1991 Cooke et a1. ......................... .. 361/394
361/393
Primary Examiner—Lynn D. Feild
Attorney, Agent, or Firm—Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly
LLP
[57]
ABSTRACT
Appl. No.: 755,241
Filed:
Nov. 22, 1996
Related US. Application Data
Amodular data device assembly for a computer is disclosed,
wherein the assembly has a housing that is designed to ?t
into a conventional, industry standard size expansion bay.
Individual plug-in data storage devices such as hard disk
drives or CD-ROM drives are disposed vertically in a
Continuation of Ser. No. 281,934, Jul. 28, 1994, abandoned.
stacked formation Within the housing. A motherboard With
Int. Cl.6 ............................... .. G06F 1/16; H05K 7/10
plug-in connectors to Which the drives are connected alloWs
US. Cl. ......................... .. 361/685; 361/683; 361/727
Field of Search ................................... .. 361/683, 684,
361/685, 686, 724—727; 364/7081; G06F 1/16
References Cited
easy replacement of defective data devices, Which devices
slide in or out. The disk drives and modular data device
assemblies may be arrayed in series or in parallel to a
controller. By its modular structure and redundant storage
functions, the present invention bene?ts from What is known
as Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disk principle.
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
4,754,397
6/1988
Varaiya et al. ........................ .. 364/200
28 Claims, 8 Drawing Sheets
U.S. Patent
0a. 13, 1998
Sheet 1 of 8
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U.S. Patent
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0a. 13, 1998
Sheet 8 of8
5,822,184
5,822,184
1
2
MODULAR DISK DRIVE ASSEMBLY
OPERATIVELY MOUNTABLE IN INDUSTRY
STANDARD EXPANSION BAYS OF
PERSONAL DESKTOP COMPUTERS
a computer apparatus With modular components including
segregated functional units like a disk array, various plug-in
card packages, poWer/fan unit, and a motherboard.
Another goal for moving toWards modular computer
components is to improve reliability. One concept in the
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED
APPLICATION
?eld of disk drives is knoWn as Redundant Array of Inex
pensive Disk (RAID), Wherein a number of disk drives are
interconnected in an array for redundant storage of data.
Thus, failure of one disk drive does not destroy irreplaceable
data.
This is a continuation of application Ser. No. 08/281,934
?led Jul. 28, 1994, noW abandoned.
10
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
A possible early example of the RAID concept is dis
closed in US. Pat. No. 4,754,397 to Varaiya et al. Varaiya
teaches a housing array for containing a plurality of hard
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to an arrangement for
mounting data devices in a computer. In particular, the
present invention relates to a modular data device assembly
adapted to mount in an industry standard siZe expansion bay.
Ware element modules such as disk drives, a plurality of
15
modules, each being connected to a separate source of
primary facility poWer. Each module is self-aligning and
2. Prior Art and Related Information
There have been a number of attempts at making the
components of a computer easily replaceable and inter
changeable. Hence, the rise in popularity of modular com
ponents and the hardWare to adapt the replaced component
blind-installable Within the housing and may be installed and
removed Without tools, Without disturbing the electrical
20
siZe drive dock. To that end, the TWigg device provides
mounting plates that have upper and loWer ridges for mount
ing a single disk drive of varying siZe Within the single drive
Despite the advances in designing modular components
and associated hardWare for computers, there is still a need
25
into a back plane in a chassis and for ejecting the circuit
board from the back plane of the chassis. The inserter/ej ector
system can be used With a magnetic disk drive to facilitate
insertion and removal thereof Within a computer.
US. Pat. No. 5,067,041 to Cooke et al. discloses an
apparatus for reducing electromagnetic radiation from a
computer device. The Cooke apparatus is comprised of an
electrically conductive housing and a non-conductive drive
mounting structure situated Within the housing. The drive
mounting structure includes a plurality of bays in commu
nication With an opening in the housing, and an electrically
conductive retainer that is situated over the opening to hold
the disk drives in the bays.
US. Pat. No. 5,224,019 discloses a modular computer
for a modular component that easily adapts to conventional
siZe restraints, yet bene?ts from RAID concepts.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
30
It is, therefore, an object of the present invention to
provide a modular data device assembly for a computer that
holds a number of interchangeable data devices, Wherein the
physical dimensions of the assembly permit it to be installed
Within the con?nes of a single expansion bay of a computer.
It is another object of the present invention to employ RAID
dock.
US. Pat. No. 5,222,897 to Collins et al. discloses a circuit
board inserter/ejector system for inserting a circuit board
cabling Within the cabinet, and automatically by a mainte
nance robot.
to a conventional computer.
For example, US. Pat. No. 5,227,954 to TWigg discloses
a mounting arrangement Which alloWs drives of different
siZes to be mounted in a drive dock. Speci?cally, TWigg
discloses hardWare necessary to mount, for example, full
height, half height, or third height drives in a conventional
modulariZed poWer supplies, and plural poWer distribution
35
40
concepts using multiple data devices Within a singular
modular assembly. It is another object of the present inven
tion to provide a modular data device assembly that employs
industry standard plug-in connectors. It is yet another object
to provide a modular data device assembly that is modular
and Which has data devices that are themselves modular. It
is still another object of the present invention to provide a
modular data device assembly that can be adapted to any
siZe computer, including micro, mini, laptop, palm top, desk
45
top, and mainframe computers.
In order to accomplish the foregoing objects, the present
invention is directed to a modular data device assembly for
a computer comprising a housing having an open front and
a back, Wherein the housing includes exterior dimensions
corresponding to an industry standard expansion bay. There
chassis comprising a main chassis to Which a motherboard 50 is a plurality of slots disposed inside the housing, a plurality
of modular data devices disposed in the plurality of slots, a
is attached and a subchassis attachable to the main chassis.
motherboard disposed in the back of the housing, connected
The subchassis holds at least one computer component and
to the data devices, a poWer source connected to the
is electrically connected to the motherboard. In this manner,
the computer component is separable from the main chassis
by removing the subchassis therefrom.
55
US. Pat. No. 5,309,323 to Gray et al. discloses a remov
able electrical unit With combined grip and release mecha
nism. Gray shoWs removable disk drives each of Which is
mountable into a corresponding device bay in front of the
subsystem chassis, Wherein each removable disk drive
incorporates a soft stop and release mechanism. Similarly,
US. Pat. No. 5,224,020 to Golledge et al. discloses a
modular electrical apparatus Which comprises a plurality of
60
motherboard, a bus interconnecting the data devices, and a
controller disposed in the computer connected to the data
bus. In a preferred embodiment, the modular data device
comprises a CD-ROM drive, a ?oppy disk drive, a hard disk
drive, etc.
Accordingly, in a preferred embodiment of the present
invention, tWo or more hard disk drives can be mounted
Within the housing, Which has appropriate exterior dimen
sions for insertion into a conventional, industry standard siZe
expansion bay of a computer. By use of a single expansion
bay, the present invention expands
customer removable electrical devices such as disk drives.
The devices and support units are all blind pluggable into a 65 the computer by many times.
removable central electrical distribution unit. LikeWise, US.
Pat. Nos. 5,006,959 and 5,119,497 to Freige et al. disclose
the storage capacity of
As a result, the present invention provides a modular data
device assembly that can be used With a conventional
5,822,184
3
4
computer Without any modi?cations. The modular data
device assembly uses multiple data devices, such as disk
drives, that can be accessed in parallel in order to exploit the
RAID concept. Failures of individual data devices can be
plurality of modular data devices disposed in the housing. A
recti?ed by replacement of the modular data device. Failure
of the entire data device assembly is recti?ed by replacement
of the entire assembly.
In the preferred embodiment, the present invention uti
liZes plug-in connectors so that replacement of any compo
nent or the entire assembly is simply a matter of pulling the
component out of the bay or slot to disengage the interfacing
connectors, and replacing the defective component With a
neW component that merely has to be plugged in.
The present invention, therefore, easily adapts to the
millions of computers already in use. The storage capacity of
each of those computers is increased many fold Without
requiring any re-Wiring or physical modi?cation. The reli
ability of operation of these computers noW equipped With
10
motherboard is disposed in the back of the housing, and a
bus interconnects the data devices Which operate under the
direction of a controller. Although the folloWing describes
the present invention relative to a laptop, desk top, or like
personal computer, it is clear that the present invention is
easily adaptable to a computer of any siZe or capacity.
FIG. 1 provides a perspective vieW of a preferred embodi
ment of the present invention modular data device assembly
for a computer. In this embodiment, the present invention
provides a housing 10 having a predetermined height, Width,
and depth. In the front of the housing 10 are modular data
devices, in this case, hard disk drives 12. Of course, the
present invention can be adapted for use With other modular
15
data devices such as CD-ROM drives, tape drives, ?oppy
drives, RAM cards, PCMCIA cards, and related data
devices. In the exemplary embodiment, the disk drives 12
are mounted vertically and slide into the housing 10 through
the front as shoWn in FIG. 2.
the present invention improves by virtue of the implemen
tation of RAID technology to the modular data device
The present invention, although described in the preferred
assembly. The present invention, therefore, enhances the
embodiments to be adapted for mounting inside a computer
poWer of a conventional computer Without a major invest
expansion bay (see reference numeral 13 in FIG. 8), can be
used external to the computer housing. That is, because the
ment in modi?cation to hardWare or softWare.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
25
operated external to the computer. To this end, the disk drive
controller, as is knoWn in the art, can be mounted inside the
The objects, features and advantages of the present inven
computer enclosure or outside, perhaps inside the present
tion Will be apparent to one skilled in the art from reading
invention assembly.
the folloWing detailed description in Which:
The disk drive 12 can be of any given con?guration such
FIG. 1 is a perspective vieW of a preferred embodiment of
as the one illustrated in FIG. 4. Such disk drives are readily
the present invention modular data device assembly.
FIG. 2 is a perspective vieW of the present invention,
Wherein one disk drive has been partially removed from the
housing to expose the electronics.
FIG. 3 is a cut aWay vieW shoWing the disk drive
mounting hardWare Within the modular data device assem
present invention is a modular, self-contained unit, it can be
available in the commercial market and Well-knoWn in the
art. The standard drive shoWn in FIG. 4 includes ?anges 28
35
for mounting in the housing 10. The back of the standard
disk drive can have drive-ready connectors. Optionally, the
disk drive 12 if not drive-ready can be converted With an
80-pin high density drive ready connector (hot plug type) 60
bly and shoWing the plug-in connectors of the motherboard.
to make the drive 12 RAID ready. Other types of connectors
FIG. 4 is a perspective vieW of an exemplary embodiment
disk drive With a back having a connector for mounting to
the motherboard.
FIG. 5 is a perspective vieW of the backside of the present
can be used depending upon design requirements.
As seen in the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 1, the outer
dimensions such as the length, Width, and depth of the
housing in the present invention are designed to ?t Within the
con?nes of a single, industry standard siZe expansion slot or
bay of a personal computer. The present invention contains
invention modular data device assembly shoWing a cooling
fan, I/O ports, a poWer socket, and a poWer sWitch.
FIGS. 6(a)—(c) are block diagrams representing various
arrangements of the present invention assembly.
45
form factor full height disk drive bay, or a 5.25-inch full
FIG. 7 is a perspective vieW of the backside of an
height plus 5.25 -inch half height disk drive bay. Needless to
say, the present invention modular data device assembly is
alternative embodiment of the present invention modular
data device assembly shoWing 2><4 pin poWer connectors
easily adapted to disk drive bays of other siZes, Whereby the
assembly is made larger or smaller by varying the siZe and
and ?ve ID sWitches.
FIG. 8 is a perspective vieW shoWing the modular data
number of each modular data device Within the assembly.
The conventional outer dimensions of the present inven
device assembly being inserted into an operative position in
an expansion bay of a personal desktop computer.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
INVENTION
?ve hard disk drives 12 of possibly 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch siZe
drives that can be inserted into a conventional 5.25-inch
55
tion housing 10 alloWs the assembly to be easily adapted for
use in many types of computers. Optional mounting slots 16
and screW holes 1 are provided on the sides of the housing
10 for conventional installation Within a disk drive bay. The
The folloWing speci?cation describes a modular data
device assembly for a computer. In the description, speci?c
housing 10, of course, may be installed in an expansion bay
materials and con?gurations are set forth in order to provide
a more complete understanding of the present invention. But
it is understood by those skilled in the art that the present
invention can be practiced Without those speci?c details. In
FIG. 3 provides a cut-aWay vieW of the present invention
to expose the interior. In this exemplary embodiment, the
disk drives 12 slide along rails 18 Within a slot 20. At the
back of the housing 10 is a backplane 22. On the interior of
the motherboard 22 are industry standard plug-in connectors
24 corresponding to the disk drives 12. The plug-in connec
tors 24 further enhance the modular characteristic of the
present invention by permitting the individual disk drives 12
some instances, Well-knoWn elements are not described
precisely so as not to obscure the invention.
65
The present invention is directed to a modular data device
assembly for a computer, comprising a housing holding a
not necessarily dedicated to a disk drive.
5,822,184
6
5
a backplane mounted in a back of said housing enclosure;
to be installed or removed Without tools, Wherein the elec
trical connections are completed or broken by pushing or
pulling on the disk drive 12. Indeed, for this purpose, each
disk drive 12 preferably includes a handle 26.
plug-in connectors attached to said backplane and posi
tioned in a back of said housing enclosure so as to
Each disk drive 12 preferably includes outWard extending
?anges 28 on either side that slide along the rails 18, thereby
aligning the electrical connector plugs at the back of the disk
drive 12 With the complementary connectors 24 on the
motherboard 22. Indeed, the disk drive 12 may utiliZe an
edge card connector on the back for engagement With the
10
correspond to each of said hard disk drive bays;
a plurality of hard disk drives, each being adapted to be
slid along said guide members into a respective said
hard disk drive bay and to thereby electrically connect
to a respective said plug-in connector;
a data bus disposed in said housing enclosure for opera
tively interconnecting said hard disk drives When in
respective said hard disk drive bays;
connectors 24. Alternatively, if the data device is disposed
on a printed circuit board, the PCB slides along the rail into
engagement With the connector.
at least one connector at a back of said housing enclosure
Abus interconnects all of the individual disk drives 12 or
a fan mounted in a back of said housing enclosure for
data devices preferably leading to a SCSI in/out port at the
back of the housing 10. TWo such ports 30 are shoWn in the
and to Which said bus is operatively connected; and
15
drives, said fan being controlled by an interior tem
perature sensor in said housing enclosure;
Wherein said housing enclosure has exterior dimensions
corresponding to interior dimensions of an industry
perspective vieW of FIG. 5 shoWing the back of housing 10.
The disk drives 12 can be of any con?guration knoWn in
the art. Cooling vents 32 are disposed in the front. Optional
LEDs 34 indicate operation of the disk drive 12.
FIG. 5 shoWs a back end vieW of the housing 10. There
is an optional cooling fan 36 that draWs air through the front
cooling vents 32 of the disk drives 12. The cooling fan 36 is
preferably controlled by interior temperatures Within the
draWing cooling air through cooling vents of said disk
standard expansion bay in a personal desktop computer
having therein a RAID controller such that said modu
lar disk drive unit enclosure is operatively mountable in
the expansion bay by inserting said housing enclosure
therein as a self-contained unit and thereby into an
25
operative insert position; and
housing though a thermistor, a rheostat, or similar device
knoWn in the art. There is an optional on/off sWitch 38 as
Well as a grounded socket 40 through Which poWer is fed to
the disk drives.
FIG. 7 shoWs an alternative embodiment of the housing
50. In this embodiment, there are preferably tWo ports 52,
?ve disk drive ID sWitches 54, a cooling fan 56, and tWo DC
2. The modular disk drive unit of claim 1 further com
prising a DC poWer connector on a back side said housing
poWer connectors (disk drive type) 58. Of course, this
con?guration is optional and various other hardWare knoWn
puter in the expansion bay When said housing enclosure is in
in the art can be used.
Wherein With said housing enclosure in the operative
insert position, said hard disk drives are operatively
connected to the RAID controller via said at least one
connector.
enclosure and electrically connectable to the personal com
35
3. The modular disk drive unit of claim 1 Wherein said at
FIGS. 6(a), (b) and (c) shoW a variety of con?gurations
least one connector is an in/out port.
for the disk drives. FIG. 6(a) provides a block diagram
illustrating the netWork of the disk drives 12 Within the
housing 10 via bus 42 to a SMART, SCSI, or IDE controller
preferably located in the computer. In most modern
computers, such a controller 44 automatically determines
the number of drives and the protocol necessary to access
each drive.
As seen in FIG. 6(a), the disk drives are interconnected in
series. As seen in FIG. 6(b), the disk drives are connected
and parallel. As seen in FIG. 6(c), the disk drives are
4. The modular disk drive unit of claim 1 Wherein said
disk drives are connected in series in said housing enclosure.
5. The modular disk drive unit of claim 1 Wherein said
disk drives are connected in parallel in said housing enclo
sure.
6. The modular disk drive unit of claim 1 further com
45
prising a data bus disposed in said housing enclosure for
operatively interconnecting said hard disk drives When
operatively in respective said hard disk drive bays.
7. The modular disk drive unit of claim 1 further com
prising a fan mounted in a back of said housing enclosure for
connected in series Wherein each assembly 46 is joined With
other assemblies to form an array and controlled by a RAID
draWing cooling air through front cooling vents of said disk
drives, said fan being controlled by an interior temperature
controller 48. Although the assemblies 46 in FIG. 6(c) shoW
the disk drives connected in series, naturally, they can also
be connected in parallel as seen in FIG. 6(b). The assemblies
46 therefore form tiers of redundant storage.
Accordingly, the modular nature of the components per
mit easy and convenient maintenance and replacement of
damaged or defective data storage devices. Their arrange
ment in an array takes advantage of RAID concepts to avoid
irretrievable data loss.
What is claimed is:
the operative insert position.
sensor in said housing enclosure.
8. The modular disk drive unit of claim 1 further com
prising a DC poWer connector on a back of said housing
55
enclosure for operative poWer connection in the personal
computer When said housing enclosure is in the operative
insert position.
9. A modular disk drive assembly and personal desktop
computer system, comprising:
a personal desktop computer having an industry standard
1. A modular disk drive unit, comprising:
expansion bay;
a housing enclosure having an internal open area and a
a housing enclosure having an internal open area and a
front opening communicating With said open area;
a plurality of guide members mounted in said housing
enclosure and de?ning a plurality of hard disk drive
bays in said open area, each of said hard disk drive bays
front opening communicating With said open area;
a plurality of guide members mounted in said housing
enclosure and de?ning a plurality of hard disk drive
bays in said open area, each of said hard disk drive bays
communicating With and being accessible through said
front opening;
65
communicating With and being accessible through said
front opening;
5,822,184
8
7
21. The system of claim 20 Wherein said controller is a
RAID controller.
22. The system of claim 19 further comprising an in/out
port at a back of said housing enclosure and to Which said
a backplane mounted in a back of said housing enclosure;
plug-in connectors attached to said backplane and posi
tioned in a back of said housing enclosure so as to
correspond to each of said hard disk drive bays;
a plurality of hard disk drives, each being adapted to be
slid along said guide members into a respective said
hard disk drive bay and to thereby electrically connect
to a respective said plug-in connector; and
a fan mounted in a back of said housing enclosure for
draWing cooling air through front cooling vents of said
disk drives, said fan being controlled by an interior
temperature sensor in said housing enclosure;
Wherein said housing enclosure has exterior dimensions
corresponding to interior dimensions of said expansion
bus is operatively connected.
23. The system of claim 9 further comprising LEDs
associated With respective said disk drives for indicating
individual operation of each of said disk drives, With said
disk drives in said housing enclosure, said LEDs being
10
housing enclosure therein as a self-contained unit.
10. The system of claim 9 Wherein each said hard disk
drive includes a front handle for grasping and pulling said
hard disk drive out of a respective said hard disk drive bay.
11. The system of claim 9 Wherein said disk drives are
connected in series in said housing enclosure.
12. The system of claim 9 Wherein said disk drives are
28. A computer operation method, comprising the steps
of:
providing a personal desktop computer having an industry
standard expansion bay therein;
providing a housing enclosure having external dimen
sions corresponding to internal dimensions of the
expansion bay, the housing having an internal open area
and a front opening communicating With the open area;
expansion bay is a one and a half height disk drive bay.
14. The system of claim 9 Wherein said industry standard
providing guide members mounted in the housing enclo
3O
opening;
providing plug-in connectors supported by the housing
35
enclosure and positioned to correspond to each of the
hard disk drive bays;
providing a DC poWer connector on a back of the housing
enclosure;
sliding separate hard disk drives along the guide members
into respective hard disk drive bays and thereby elec
trically connecting to a respective plug-in connector
and operatively to the DC poWer connector; and
inserting the housing enclosure as a self-contained unit
disposed in said housing enclosure for operatively intercon
necting said hard disk drives When operatively in respective
said hard disk drive bays.
tively connected to said data bus.
sure and de?ning a plurality of hard disk drive bays in
the open area, each of the hard disk drive bays com
municating With and being accessible through the front
group consisting of 1.8-inch or 2.5-inch.
19. The system of claim 9 further comprising a data bus
personal desktop computer, and With said housing enclosure
operatively in said expansion bay said controller is opera
enclosure directly in and to said expansion bay.
26. The system of claim 25 Wherein said mounting
openings include side mounting slots.
27. The system of claim 25 Wherein said mounting
openings include side screW holes.
connected in parallel in said housing enclosure.
13. The system of claim 9 Wherein said industry standard
20. The system of claim 19 Wherein a controller is in said
24. The system of claim 9 Wherein said guide members
comprise rails, and each said hard disk drive includes
outWardly extending ?anges Which slide on said rails.
25. The system of claim 9 Wherein said housing enclosure
includes mounting openings for installing said housing
15
bay such that said housing enclosure is operatively
mountable in said expansion bay by inserting said
expansion bay is a full height disk drive bay.
15. The system of claim 9 Wherein said industry standard
expansion bay is a half height disk drive bay.
16. The system of claim 9 Wherein said industry standard
expansion bay comprises a 5.25-inch form factor full height
disk drive bay.
17. The system of claim 9 Wherein said industry standard
expansion bay comprises a 5.25-inch full height plus 5.25
inch half height disk drive bay.
18. The system of claim 9 Wherein said industry standard
expansion bay comprises a drive bay siZe selected from a
visible at a front of said housing enclosure.
into the expansion bay and thereby plugging, at a
45
location inside of the computer and via the DC poWer
connector, into a poWer supply of the computer.
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