Computer system utilizing multiple computer modules functioning

Computer system utilizing multiple computer modules functioning
US007328297B2
(12) United States Patent
(10) Patent N0.:
(45) Date of Patent:
(:llll
(54)
(75)
COMPUTER SYSTEM UTILIZING
MULTIPLE COMPUTER MODULES
FUNCTIONING INDEPENDENTLY
Inventor:
(56)
3,996,585 A
William W. Y. Chu, Los Altos, CA
Subject to any disclaimer, the term of this
patent is extended or adjusted under 35
12/1976 Hogan
(Continued)
FOREIGN PATENT DOCUMENTS
View, CA (US)
Notice:
References Cited
U. S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
(Us)
(73) Assignee: ACQIS Technology, Inc., Mountain
(*)
US 7,328,297 B2
*Feb.5,2008
EP
722138 A1
7/1996
(Continued)
U.S.C. 154(b) by 234 days.
OTHER PUBLICATIONS
This patent is subject to a terminal dis
claimer.
(21) Appl. No.: 11/104,169
Apr. 8, 2005
(22) Filed:
Prior Publication Data
(65)
US 2005/0174729 A1
(Continued)
Primary ExamineriRaymond N Phan
(74) Attorney, Agent, or FirmiTownsend and Townsend
Aug. 11, 2005
Related US. Application Data
(63)
Agerwala, T., Systems Journal “SP2 System Architecture” v01. 34,
N0. 2, 1995 Scalable Parallel Computing v01. 34, N0. 2, 1995.
Continuation of application No. 10/772,214, ?led on
Feb. 3, 2004, now Pat. No. 7,099,981, which is a
continuation of application No. 09/569,758, ?led on
May 12, 2000, now Pat. No. 6,718,415.
and Crew LLP
(57)
ABSTRACT
A computer system for multi-processing purposes. The
computer system has a console comprising a ?rst coupling
site and a second coupling site. Each coupling site comprises
a connector. The console is an enclosure that is capable of
14, 1999.
housing each coupling site. The system also has a plurality
of computer modules, where each of the computer modules
(51)
Int. Cl.
is coupled to a connector. Each of the computer modules has
a processing unit, a main memory coupled to the processing
(52)
US. Cl. .................... ..
(60) Provisional application No. 60/134,122, ?led on May
G06F 12/00
(58)
unit, a graphics controller coupled to the processing unit,
(2006.01)
710/301; 710/313; 710/315;
and a mass storage device coupled to the processing unit.
710/63; 710/72; 709/227; 709/248
Each of the computer modules is substantially similar in
design to each other to provide independent processing of
each of the computer modules in the computer system.
Field of Classi?cation Search ...... ..
710/300i317,
710/8il9, 62*64, 72*73; 713/200i202;
709/214, 217, 219, 226, 227, 248
See application ?le for complete search history.
88 Claims, 8 Drawing Sheets
/- 200
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US 7,328,297 B2
Page 2
US. PATENT DOCUMENTS
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U.S. Patent
Feb. 5, 2008
Sheet 8 0f 8
US 7,328,297 B2
/‘/700
ATTACHED COMPUTER MODULE
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US 7,328,297 B2
1
2
COMPUTER SYSTEM UTILIZING
MULTIPLE COMPUTER MODULES
FUNCTIONING INDEPENDENTLY
such as smaller keyboards and the like. Furthermore, these
devices have limited common platforms to transfer infor
mation to and from these devices and other devices such as
PCs.
Up to now, there has been little common ground between
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED
APPLICATIONS
these platforms including the PCs and laptops in terms of
upgrading, ease-of-use, cost, performance, and the like.
Many dilferences between these platforms, probably some
The present application claims priority as a continuation
of US. nonprovisional patent application Ser. No. 10/772,
what intentional, has bene?ted computer manufacturers at
214, ?led Feb. 3, 2004, now US. Pat. No. 7,099,981, which
is a continuation of US. nonprovisional patent application
Ser. No. 09/569,758, ?led May 12, 2000 (Now US. Pat. No.
6,718,415), which claimed priority to US. Provisional
the cost of consumers. A drawback to having two separate
computers is that the user must often purchase both the
desktop and laptop to have “total” computing power, where
Application No. 60/134,122 ?led May 14, 1999, commonly
assigned, and hereby incorporated by reference.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to computing devices. More
particularly, the present invention provides a system includ
ing a plurality of computer modules that can independently
20
operate to provide backup capability, dual processing, and
desktop and the portable computer. Alternatively, the user
the like. Merely by way of example, the present invention is
applied to a modular computing environment for desk top
computers, but it will be recognized that the invention has a
often must use ?oppy disks to “Zip” up ?les and programs
25
much wider range of applicability. It can be applied to a
that exceed the storage capacity of conventional ?oppy
disks, and transfer the ?oppy disk data manually.
Another drawback with the current model of separate
portable and desktop computer is that the user has to spend
money to buy components and peripherals the are duplicated
server as well as other portable or modular computing
applications.
Many desktop or personal computers, which are com
monly termed PCs, have been around and used for over ten
years. The PCs often come with state-of-art microprocessors
the desktop serves as a “regular” computer and the laptop
serves as a “portable” computer. Purchasing both computers
is often costly and runs “thousands” of dollars. The user also
wastes a signi?cant amount of time transferring software
and data between the two types of computers. For example,
the user must often couple the portable computer to a local
area network (i.e., LAN), to a serial port with a modem and
then manually transfer over ?les and data between the
30
in at least one of these computers. For example, both the
desktop and portable computers typically include hard disk
such as the Intel PentiumTM microprocessor chips. They also
drives, ?oppy drives, CD-ROMs, computer memory, host
include a hard or ?xed disk drive such as memory in the
processors, graphics accelerators, and the like. Because
program software and supporting programs generally must
giga-bit range. Additionally, the PCs often include a random
access memory integrated circuit device such as a dynamic
35
random access memory device, which is commonly termed
DRAM. The DRAM devices now provide up to millions of
memory cells (i.e., mega-bit) on a single slice of silicon. PCs
also include a high resolution display such as cathode ray
tubes or CRTs. In most cases, the CRTs are at least 15 inches 40
or 17 inches or 20 inches in diameter. High resolution ?at
panel displays are also used with PCs.
Many external or peripheral devices can be used with the
PCs. Among others, these peripheral devices include mass
storage devices such as a ZipTM Drive product sold by
be installed upon both hard drives in order for the user to
operate programs on the road and in the o?ice, hard disk
space is often wasted.
One approach to reduce some of these drawbacks has
been the use of a docking station with a portable computer.
Here, the user has the portable computer for “on the road”
use and a docking station that houses the portable computer
for o?ice use.
45
Similar to separate desktop and portable computers, there
is no commonality between two desktop computers. To date,
Iomega Corporation of Utah. Other storage devices include
external hard drives, tape drives, and others. Additional
most personal computers are constructed with a single
motherboard that provides connection for CPU and other
devices include communication devices such as a modem,
which can be used to link the PC to a wide area network of
components in the computer. Dual CPU systems have been
available through Intel’s slot 1 architecture. For example,
computers such as the Internet. Furthermore, the PC can
include output devices such as a printer and other output
means. Moreover, the PC can include special audio output
devices such as speakers the like.
PCs also have easy to use keyboards, mouse input
50
devices, and the like. The keyboard is generally con?gured
55
card slots on a motherboard to form a Dual-processor
system. The two CPU’s share a common host bus that
connects to the rest of the system, e.g. main memory, hard
similar to a typewriter format. The keyboard also has the
length and width for easily inputting information by way of
keys to the computer. The mouse also has a su?icient size
and shape to easily move a curser on the display from one
location to another location.
two Pentium II cartridges can be plugged into two “slot 1”
disk drive, graphics subsystem, and others. Dual CPU sys
tems have the advantage of increased CPU performance for
the whole system. Adding a CPU cartridge requires no
change in operating systems and application software. How
ever, dual CPU systems may su?er limited performance
improvement if memory or disk drive bandwidth becomes
60
the limiting factor. Also, dual CPU systems have to time
share the processing unit in running multiple applications.
CPU performance improvement e?iciency also depends on
Other types of computing devices include portable com
puting devices such as “laptop” computers and the like.
Although somewhat successful, laptop computers have
software coding structure. Dual CPU systems provide no
many limitations. These computing devices have poor dis
play technology. In fact, these devices often have a smaller
hardware redundancy to help fault tolerance. In running
multiple applications, memory and disk drive data through
put will become the limiting factor in improving perfor
?at panel display that has poor viewing characteristics.
Additionally, these devices also have poor input devices
65
mance with multi-processor systems.
US 7,328,297 B2
4
3
In still further embodiments, the present invention pro
Thus, what is needed are computer systems that can have
vides methods of using multiple computer modules.
According to the present invention, a technique including
multiple computer modules. Each computer module has
dedicated memory and disk drive, and can operate indepen
dently.
a method and device for securing a computer module using
a password in a computer system is provided. In an exem
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
plary embodiment, the present invention provides a security
system for an attached computer module (“ACM”). In an
According to the present invention, a technique including
embodiment, the ACM inserts into a Computer Module Bay
a method and device for multi-module computing is pro
vided. In an exemplary embodiment, the present invention
provides a system including a plurality of computer modules
computer.
that can independently operate to provide backup capability,
dual processing, and the like.
In a speci?c embodiment, the present invention provides
a computer module. The computer module has an enclosure
that is insertable into a console. The module also has a
(CMB) within a peripheral console to form a functional
In a speci?c embodiment, the present invention provides
central processing unit (i.e., integrated circuit chip) in the
a computer system for multi-processing purposes. The com
puter system has a console comprising a ?rst coupling site
and a second coupling site, e. g., computer module bay. Each
coupling site comprises a connector. The console is an
enclosure that is capable of housing each coupling site. The
system also has a plurality of computer modules, where each
enclosure. The module has a hard disk drive in the enclosure,
where the hard disk drive is coupled to the central processing
unit. The module further has a programmable memory
device in the enclosure, where the programmable memory
20
of the computer modules is coupled to one of the connectors.
Each of the computer modules has a processing unit, a main
memory coupled to the processing unit, a graphics controller
coupled to the processing unit, and a mass storage device
coupled to the processing unit. Each of the computer mod
ules is substantially similar in design to each other to provide
independent processing of each of the computer modules in
the computer system.
In an alternative speci?c embodiment, the present inven
tion provides a multi-processing computer system. The
vides a permanent password or user identi?cation code
25
30
system has a console comprising a ?rst coupling site and a
second coupling site. Each coupling site comprises a con
nector. The console is an enclosure that is capable of housing
each coupling site. The system also has a plurality of
computer modules, where each of the computer modules is
coupled to one of the connectors. Each of the computer
modules has a processing unit, a main memory coupled to
35
(e.g., hard disk). The method also includes applying power
processing unit, a mass storage device coupled to the pro
con?gured to switch
computer modules to
Numerous bene?ts
tion over previously
40
45
a video signal from any one of the
a display.
are achieved using the present inven
existing techniques. In one embodi
ment, the invention provides improved processing and main
example, as well as hardware.
50
Numerous bene?ts are achieved using the present inven
tion over previously existing techniques. The present inven
tion provides mechanical and electrical security systems to
prevent theft or unauthorized use of the computer system in
55
a speci?c embodiment. Additionally, the present invention
substantially prevents accidental removal of the ACM from
the console. In some embodiments, the present invention
prevents illegal or unauthorized use during transit. The
ef?cient manner.
present invention is also implemented using conventional
technologies that can be provided in the present computer
In another embodiment, the invention provides at least
two users to share the same modular desktop system. Each
user operates on a different computer module. The other
to the computer system and the ACM to execute a security
program, which is stored in the mass memory storage
device. The method also includes prompting for a user
password from a user on a display (e.g., ?at panel, CRT). In
a further embodiment, the present method includes a step of
reading a permanent password or user identi?cation code
stored in ?ash memory, or other integrated circuit element.
The permanent password or user identi?cation code pro
vides a permanent ?nger print on the attached computer
module. The present invention includes a variety of these
methods that can be implemented in computer codes, for
tenance features. The invention can also provide increased
CPU performance for the whole system. The invention also
can be implemented without changes in operating system
and application software. The present invention is also
implemented using conventional technologies that can be
provided in the present computer system in an easy and
stored in ?ash memory, which also can be in the processing
unit, or other integrated circuit element. The permanent
password or user identi?cation code is designed to provide
a permanent “?nger print” on the attached computer module.
In a speci?c embodiment, the present invention provides
a variety of methods. In one embodiment, the present
invention provides a method for operating a computer
system such as a modular computer system and others. The
method includes inserting an attached computer module
(“ACM”) into a bay of a modular computer system. The
ACM has a microprocessor unit (e.g., microcontroller,
microprocessor) coupled to a mass memory storage device
the processing unit, a graphics controller coupled to the
cessing unit, and a video output coupled to the processing
unit. Each of the computer modules is substantially similar
in design to each other to provide independent processing of
each of the computer modules in the computer system. A
video switch circuit is coupled to each of the computer
modules through the video output. The video switch is
device can be con?gurable to store a password for prevent
ing a possibility of unauthorized use of the hard disk drive
and/or other module elements. The stored password can be
any suitable key strokes that a user can change from time to
time. In a further embodiment, the present invention pro
60
peripheral devices, i.e. CDROM, printer, DSL connection,
system in an easy and ef?cient manner. Depending upon the
embodiment, one or more of these bene?ts can be available.
etc. can be shared. This provides lower system cost, less
These and other advantages or bene?ts are described
desktop space and more ef?ciency. Depending upon the
throughout the present speci?cation and are described more
particularly below.
embodiment, one or more of these bene?ts can be available.
These and other advantages or bene?ts are described
65
These and other embodiments of the present invention, as
throughout the present speci?cation and are described more
well as its advantages and features, are described in more
particularly below.
detail in conjunction with the text below and attached Figs.
US 7,328,297 B2
6
5
In a speci?c embodiment, the present multiple computer
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
module system has a peripheral console that has two or more
FIG. 1 is a simpli?ed diagram of a computer system
according to an embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a simpli?ed block diagram of a computer system
according to an alternative embodiment of the present
computer bays that can receive a removable computer
module or ACM. Multiple computer module system can
function as a personal computer with only one ACM and the
peripheral console. The second and additional ACM can be
invention;
added later to increase overall system performance and
reliability. The ACM operates independently as self-con
tained computer, communicates with each other through a
high-speed serial communication and share most peripheral
devices within the peripheral console. Each ACM controls
FIG. 3 is a simpli?ed block diagram of a computer system
according to a further alternative embodiment of the present
invention; and
FIG. 4 is a simpli?ed ?ow diagram of a method according
to an embodiment of the present invention.
its independent graphics subsystem and drives separate
FIG. 5 is a simpli?ed side-view diagram of a computer
module according to an embodiment of the present inven
tion.
video output signals. A practical implementation is a dual
ACM system. In a dual ACM system, two monitors can be
used to display the two ACMs’ graphics outputs at the same
time. For a single monitor, a RGB switch is used to switch
between the video outputs of the two ACMs and can be
FIG. 6 is a simpli?ed layout diagram of a security system
for a computer system according to an embodiment of the
present invention.
FIG. 7 or 7A area simpli?ed block diagrams of a security
system for a computer module according to an embodiment
controlled by a command from the user. Similarly, input
devices (i.e. keyboard and mouse) are switched between the
20
of the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
INVENTION
that the mouse can click on.
25
According to the present invention, a technique including
according to an embodiment of the present invention. This
diagram is merely an illustration and should not limit the
scope of the claims herein. One of ordinary skill in the art
30
user password;
35
sole;
computer module (i.e., ACM) 113, a desktop console 101,
8) A software controllable mechanical lock, lock control
among other elements. The computer system also has
40
tive slot 121, 119, which mechanically houses and electri
cally couples each ACM to the computer console. Also
45
50
55
3) Add-on means, e.g. PCI add-on slots,
60
hereby incorporated by reference for all purposes.
4) Two Computer Module Bays (CMB) with connectors
to two ACMs,
5) A serial communication Hub controller that interfaces
to serial communication controller of both ACMs,
6) Shared storage subsystem, e.g. Floppy drive, CDROM
and the like. Some details of the ACM can be found in
09/149,548 ?led Sep. 8, 1998, commonly assigned, and
The shared peripheral console has a chassis and a moth
erboard that connects the following devices:
1) Input means, e.g. keyboard and mouse,
2) Display means, e.g. RGB monitor,
heat dissipation sinks, electrical connection mechanisms,
co-pending patent application Ser. Nos. 09/ 149,882 and
connection, a receptacle board is added to allow a cable
connection to the peripheral board. This is to facilitate the
mechanical positioning of the second ACM inside the com
puter chassis. The receptacle board approach can even be
used for the primary ACM if a high bandwidth peripheral
bus, e.g. PCI Bus, is not connected from the primary ACM
to the peripheral board.
units.
In the present embodiment, each ACM 113 includes
console. The CMB houses the ACM and provides commu
nication to and from the ACM. The CMB also provides
mechanical protection and support to the ACM. The CMB
has a mechanical alignment mechanism for mating a portion
of the ACM to the console. The CMB further has thermal
Some details of these elements with the present system are
described in more detail below. In a dual ACM system, the
primary ACM can connect directly to the peripheral board in
the peripheral console. The second ACM can connect either
directly or indirectly to the peripheral board. For indirect
tions, computerized television sets, and portable or laptop
computer components, as will be described below, including
a central processing unit (“CPU”), IDE controller, hard disk
drive, computer memory, and the like. The computer module
bay (i.e., CMB) 121 is an opening or slot in the desktop
means, and other accessories.
The ACM connects to a peripheral console with power
supply, a display device, an input device, and other elements.
allow more than one user to operate the computer system.
The computer system is modular and has a variety of
components that are removable. Some of these components
(or modules) can be used in different computers, worksta
primary HDD;
7) An interface device and connectors to peripheral con
natives. The computer system 100 includes an attached
shown is a display 111, which connects to the console.
Additionally, keyboard 109 and mouse 115 are also shown.
A second display 102, keyboard 105, and mouse 107 can be
coupled to the console in some optional embodiments to
3) Main memory;
4) A single primary Hard Disk Drive (“HDD”) that has a
security program;
5) Flash memory with system BIOS and programmable
6) Operating System, application software, data ?les on
would recognize other variations, modi?cations, and alter
another ACM module 117. Each ACM module has a respec
In most embodiments, the ACM includes an enclosure
such as the one described with the following components,
which should not be limiting:
l) A CPU with cache memory;
2) Core logic device or means;
a method and device for multi-module computing is pro
vided. In an exemplary embodiment, the present invention
provides a system including a plurality of computer modules
that can independently operate to provide backup capability,
dual processing, and the like.
FIG. 1 is a simpli?ed diagram of a computer system 100
two computer systems with a command from the user.
Command from the user can be in the form of either a
dedicated key on the keyboard or a special icon on the screen
65
drive, DVD drive, or 2nd Hard Drive,
7) Communication device, e.g. modem,
8) Power supply, and others.
US 7,328,297 B2
7
8
The computer bay is an opening in the peripheral console
that receives an ACM. CMB provides mechanical protection
to ACM, mechanical alignment for connector mating,
mechanical locking system to prevent theft and accidental
removal, and connectors at the end of the opening for
removable hard disk drives, read/write CD ROMs, ?ash
memory, ?oppy disk drives, and the like. A small form
connecting to ACM. The interface bus between ACM and
the peripheral console has a video bus, peripheral connec
interfaces than IDE.
tions, serial communication connection, control signals and
ACM with security protection.
factor, for example 2.5", is currently contemplated, however,
other form factors, such as PC card, and the like are also
contemplated. Mass storage unit 240 may also support other
Among other features, the computer system includes an
power connection. Video bus includes video output of
The ACM also has a network controller, which can be an
graphics devices, i.e. analog RGB and control signals for
Ethernet controller 219, which is coupled to the North
monitor. Power connection supplies the power for ACM.
An implementation of peripheral sharing is the use of
Ethernet controllers to bridge the communication between
the two ACMs. Some of the peripheral devices residing in
the peripheral console are shown in the simpli?ed diagram
of FIG. 2. As shown, the diagram is merely an illustration
which should not limit the scope of the claims herein. One
of ordinary skill in the art would recognize many other
variations, alternatives, and modi?cations. As shown, a
primary ACM 203 is connected to PCI peripheral devices in
the peripheral console through the PCI bus 225 that passes
through the connection between primary ACM 203 and
peripheral console 201. As shown, ACM has a CPU module
207 coupled to the PCI bus through a North Bridge 211.
The CPU module can use a suitable microprocessing unit,
Bridge through the PCI bus. The North Bridge is coupled to
the CPU. The Ethernet controller can be a 10/100 Base, such
as Intel’s 82559 or the like. Other types of network connec
tion devices can also be used. For example, the invention can
use Gbit Ethernet 1394, and USB 2.0. The network control
ler couples to a hub 233 in the console, which includes
shared peripheral system 201.
Also shown is the second ACM 205. The second ACM
20
has the same or similar components as the ?rst ACM. Here,
like reference numerals have been used for easy cross
referencing, but is not intended to be limiting. In some
embodiments, the secondary ACM is not connected to the
PCI bus in the peripheral console directly. The secondary
ACM 219 accesses peripheral devices controlled by the
25
primary ACM through the Ethernet connection to the pri
microcontroller, digital signal processor, and the like. In a
speci?c embodiment, the CPU module uses, for example, a
400 MHZ Pentium II microprocessor module from Intel
mary ACM, e.g. CD-ROM, or PCI modem. The implemen
Corporation and like microprocessors from AMD Corpora
tion, Cyrix Corporation (now National Semiconductor Cor
poration), and others. In other aspects, the microprocessor
2.0, and 1394. The Ethernet hub is coupled to an external
output port 235, which connects to an external network.
The primary hard disk drive in each ACM can be accessed
tation is not restricted to Ethernet serial communication and
can use other high-speed serial communication such as USB
30
can be one such as the Compaq Computer Corporation
Alpha Chip, Apple Computer Corporation PowerPC G3
processor, and the like. Further, higher speed processors are
contemplated in other embodiments as technology increases
in the future.
In the CPU module, peripheral controller 213 is coupled
to BIOS/?ash memory 217. Additionally, the peripheral
controller is coupled to a clock control logic, a con?guration
signal, and a peripheral bus. The ACM has the hard drive
module 215. Among other elements, the ACM includes
35
tion function between the two computer modules. Ethernet
data bandwidth of 100 Mbit/ sec allows fast data communi
cation between the two computer modules. The secondary
ACM access peripheral devices of the primary ACM
40
north bridge 215, graphics subsystem 223 (e.g., graphics
45
eral controller via the PCI bus. Graphics subsystem typically
couples to a graphics memory, and other elements. IDE
controller generally supports and provides timing signals
through the network connection provided by Ethernet link.
The operating system, e.g. Windows 98, provides the shar
ing of resources between the two ACMs. In some embodi
ments, critical data in one ACM can be backup into the other
ACM.
accelerator, graphics memory), an IDE controller, and other
components. Adjacent to and in parallel alignment with the
hard drive module 215 is the PCI bus. In a speci?c embodi
ment, North Bridge unit 211 often couples to a computer
memory 209, to the graphics subsystem, and to the periph
by the other ACM as sharable hard drive through the
Ethernet connection. This allows the easy sharing of ?les
between the two independent computer modules. The Eth
ernet Hub Controller provides the high-speed communica
50
The Ethernet hub also couples to PCI bus 239, which
connects to PCI devices 241, 243, e.g., modem, SCSI
controller. A ?ash memory 242 can also be coupled to the
PCI bus. The ?ash memory can store passwords and security
information, such as those implementations described in
US. Ser. No. 09/183,493, which is commonly owned, and
necessary for the IDE bus. In the present embodiment, the
hereby incorporated by reference. The hub 233 also couples
IDE controller is embodied as part of a Pll4XE controller
to an I/O control 237, which connects to keyboard/mouse
from Intel, for example. Other types of buses than IDE are
switch 245, which couples to keyboard/mouse 247. Option
contemplated, for example EIDE, SCSI, 1394, and the like
ally, the keyboard/mouse switch also couples to a second
keyboard/house 259 via PS2 or USB signal line 251. The
in alternative embodiments of the present invention.
The hard drive module or mass storage unit 215 typically
includes a computer operating system, application software
program ?les, data ?les, and the like. In a speci?c embodi
ment, the computer operating system may be the Win
dows98 operating system from Microsoft Corporation of
55
keyboard/mouse switch has at least a ?rst state and a second
state, which allow operation of respectively multiple key
60
Redmond Wash. Other operating systems, such as Win
dowsNT, MacOS8, Unix, and the like are also contemplated
in alternative embodiments of the present invention. Further,
some typical application software programs can include
O?ice98 by Microsoft Corporation, Corel Perfect Suite by
65
boards or a single keyboard. The switch also couples to each
I/O controller 221 in each ACM via lines 253, 255. The I/O
control 237 also couples to an RGB switch 257, which
allows video signals to pass to the ?rst monitor 259. Alter
natively, the RGB switch couples to a second monitor 261.
The RGB switch includes analog video switches such as
MAXIM’s MAX4545.
The peripheral system 201 also has an independent power
Corel, and others. Hard disk module 215 includes a hard disk
supply 231 for each ACM. Each power supply provides
drive. The hard disk drive, however, can also be replaced by
power to each ACM. As merely an example, the power
US 7,328,297 B2
9
10
supply is a MICRO ATX 150W made by ENLIGHT, but can
be others. The power supply is connected or coupled to each
in alternative embodiments of the present invention. Further,
ACM through a separate line, for example. The independent
power supply allows for independent operation of each
Of?ce98 by Microsoft Corporation, Corel Perfect Suite by
ACM in some embodiments.
of hardware and software. It will be recognized, however,
drive. The hard disk drive, however, can also be replaced by
removable hard disk drives, read/write CD ROMs, ?ash
memory, ?oppy disk drives, and the like. A small form
that the functionality of the hardware can be further com
bined or even separated. The functionality of the software
other form factors, such as PC card, and the like are also
can also be further combined or even separated. Hardware
contemplated. Mass storage unit 240 may also support other
can be replaced, at times, with software. Software can be
interfaces than IDE.
some typical application software programs can include
Corel, and others. Hard disk module 215 includes a hard disk
The above embodiments are described generally in terms
factor, for example 2.5", is currently contemplated, however,
replaced, at times, with hardware. Accordingly, the present
Among other features, the computer system includes an
embodiments should not be construed as limiting the scope
of the claims here. One of ordinary skill in the art would
ACM with security protection.
recognize other variations, modi?cations, and alternatives.
coupled to a serial port 302, which is coupled to the PCI bus
in the ACM. The serial port is coupled to the peripheral
console through a serial controller 301 in the serial console.
The serial controller is connected to PCI bus 239. The serial
controller is also coupled to a serial hub controller 303,
The ACM also has a network controller, which can be
FIG. 3 is a simpli?ed block diagram 300 of a computer
system according to an alternative embodiment of the
present invention. This diagram is merely an example which
should not limit the scope of the claims herein. One of
ordinary skill in the art would recognizes many other
variations, modi?cations, and alternatives. Like reference
numerals are used in this Fig. as the previous Fig. for easy
referencing, but are not intended to be limiting. As shown,
each ACM includes common elements as the previous Fig.
A primary ACM 203 is connected to PCI peripheral devices
in the peripheral console through the PCI bus 225 that passes
through the connection between primary ACM 203 and
peripheral console 201. As shown, ACM has a CPU module
207 coupled to the PCI bus through a North Bridge 211.
The CPU module can use a suitable microprocessing unit,
20
which is coupled to the PCI bus and a second ACM. In a
25
speci?c embodiment, a receptacle board 310 is added to
connect to the second ACM. The purpose of the receptacle
board is to allow a cable connection 307 to the peripheral
board 300. The cable connection is possible because the
signals needed to connect to the peripheral board can be
limited to video, I/O, serial communication, and power. The
serial communication controller can be placed on the recep
tacle board and not in the ACM. As shown, the serial bus
controller couples to the PCI bus. The receptacle board also
30
microcontroller, digital signal processor, and the like. In a
speci?c embodiment, the CPU module uses, for example, a
400 MHz Pentium II microprocessor module from Intel
Corporation and like microprocessors from AMD Corpora
tion, Cyrix Corporation (now National Semiconductor Cor
operation of the present con?guration is similar to the
35
poration), and others. In other aspects, the microprocessor
40
time with separate monitors and keyboard/mouse. The 2
users share peripherals, e.g., printer, CDROM, and others.
The two users share external networking.
To support 1 monitor for both ACMs, a video switch in the
45
peripheral console is used to switch between the video
outputs of the two ACMs. The system can be set to support
either 1 monitor or 2-monitor mode. The user presses a
north bridge 215, graphics subsystem 223 (e.g., graphics
accelerator, graphics memory), an IDE controller, and other
components. Adjacent to and in parallel alignment with the
hard drive module 215 is the PCI bus. In a speci?c embodi
ment, North Bridge unit 211 often couples to a computer
memory 209, to the graphics subsystem, and to the periph
previous one except it operates in serial communication
mode.
The Dual ACM system can support different usage mod
els:
1. One user using both ACMs concurrently with 1 or 2
monitors, and a common keyboard/mouse.
2. Two users using the two separate ACMs at the same
can be one such as the Compaq Computer Corporation
Alpha Chip, Apple Computer Corporation PowerPC G3
processor, and the like. Further, higher speed processors are
contemplated in other embodiments as technology increases
in the future.
In the CPU module, peripheral controller 213 is coupled
to BIOS/?ash memory 217. Additionally, the peripheral
controller is coupled to a clock control logic, a con?guration
signal, and a peripheral bus. The ACM has the hard drive
module 215. Among other elements, the ACM includes
couples to power, graphics subsystem, I/O controller, and
other elements, which may be on a common bus. The overall
50
special key on the keyboard or a special icon on the screen
to switch the screen display from one ACM to the other. This
same action causes the keyboard and mouse connections to
switch from one ACM to the other ACM.
A dual ACM system can save space, wiring, and cost for
a 2-person PC setup, with the added bene?t that both PC
eral controller via the PCI bus. Graphics subsystem typically
systems can be accessed from one user site for increased
couples to a graphics memory, and other elements. IDE
system performance if the other user is not using the system.
Files can be copied between the primary drive of both
controller generally supports and provides timing signals
55
necessary for the IDE bus. In the present embodiment, the
system and provides protection against a single ACM fail
IDE controller is embodied as part of a P114XE controller
ure. Software needs to be developed to manage the concur
from Intel, for example. Other types of buses than IDE are
rent use of two PC subsystems, the automatic sharing of
selected ?les between the two systems, and fault tolerance.
The design with more than two computer modules can be
implemented with the use of multi-port, serial communica
tion hub controller and multi-port I/O switches. In one
contemplated, for example EIDE, SCSI, 1394, and the like
in alternative embodiments of the present invention.
The hard drive module or mass storage unit 215 typically
60
includes a computer operating system, application software
program ?les, data ?les, and the like. In a speci?c embodi
ment, the computer operating system may be the Win
dows98 operating system from Microsoft Corporation of
Redmond Wash. Other operating systems, such as Win
dowsNT, MacOS8, Unix, and the like are also contemplated
65
embodiment, a peripheral console has four computer bays
for four separate computer modules. The computer modules
communicate through a four port Ethernet hub. The video,
keyboard, and mouse switch will cycle through the connec
tion from each computer module to the external monitor,
US 7,328,297 B2
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12
keyboard, and mouse with a push button sequentially. This
houses the lock and exposes the keyhole 513 to a user. The
embodiment is useful for a server that performs different
key 511 is insertable from the face into the keyhole.
As the ACM inserts into the frame, connector 517 couples
and inserts into connector 521. Connector 517 electrically
and mechanically interface elements of the ACM to the
console through connector 521. Latch 514 should be moved
away from the bottom side 519 of the module bay frame
before inserting the ACM into the frame. Once the ACM is
inserted fully into the frame, latch 515 is placed in a closed
or lock position, where it keeps the ACM ?rmly in place.
That is, latch 515 biases against a backside portion 529 of
the ACM enclosure to hold the ACM in place, where the
connector 517 ?rmly engages, electrically and mechanically,
functions concurrently, e.g. email, application hosting, web
hosting, ?rewall, etc.
The above embodiments are described generally in terms
of hardware and software. It will be recognized, however,
that the functionality of the hardware can be further com
bined or even separated. The functionality of the software
can also be further combined or even separated. Hardware
can be replaced, at times, with software. Software can be
replaced, at times, with hardware. Accordingly, the present
embodiments should not be construed as limiting the scope
of the claims here. One of ordinary skill in the art would
with connector 521. To remove the ACM, latch 515 is
recognize other variations, modi?cations, and alternatives.
moved away or opened from the back side portion of the
ACM enclosure. ACM is manually pulled out of the com
FIG. 4 is a simpli?ed diagram of a method according to
an embodiment of the present invention. This diagram is
merely an example which should not limit the scope of the
claims herein. One of ordinary skill in the art would recog
nize many other variations, modi?cations, and alternatives.
The present diagram illustrates an automatic ?le backup
puter module bay frame, where connector 517 disengages
with connector 521. As shown, the key 511 is used to
selectively move the latch in the open or locked position to
20
procedure from one computer module to the other. As
shown, a user selects (step 401) a certain ?le in one of the
computer module for automatic backup. Next, the method
determines if another module is available, step 403. If so, the
method in the originating module requests the other com
25
421.
The above embodiments are described generally in terms
30
password;
6) Operating System, application software, data ?les on
primary HDD;
7) An interface device and connectors to peripheral console;
8) A software controllable mechanical lock, lock control
35
means, and other accessories.
The ACM connects to a peripheral console with power
supply, a display device, an input device, and other elements.
Some details of these elements with the present security
system are described in more detail below.
40
FIG. 6 is a simpli?ed layout diagram of a security system
for a computer system according to an embodiment of the
present invention. This diagram is merely an illustration and
should not limit the scope of the claims herein. One of
45
of hardware and software. It will be recognized, however,
that the functionality of the hardware can be further com
bined or even separated. The functionality of the software
can also be further combined or even separated. Hardware
can be replaced, at times, with software. Software can be
which should not be limiting:
l) A CPU with cache memory;
2) Core logic device or means;
3) Main memory;
4) A single primary Hard Disk Drive (“HDD”) that has a
security program;
5) Flash memory with system BIOS and programmable user
puter module to create (step 405) backup ?le. Alternatively,
the method alerts the user of the missing or malfunctioning
module, step 429. The method then has the user try later 431,
once the missing or malfunctioning module has been
replaced or repaired. Next, the method determines if there is
suf?cient storage available in the other computer module for
the backup ?les. If so, the method goes to the next step.
(Alternatively, the method prompts (step 433) a message to
the user indicating that the storage is full.) In the next step,
the method stores the backup ?le in memory of the other
module. After the backup ?le has been successfully created
(step 409), the software in the originating ACM sets a timer
to check (step 411) for ?le modi?cation via branches 423,
427 through continue, step 425 process. If a ?le selected for
backup has been modi?ed (step 415), then the ?le is auto
matically back up to the other ACM again, step 417.
Alternatively, the method returns to step 411 through branch
secure the ACM into the frame module.
In most embodiments, the ACM includes an enclosure
such as the one described with the following components,
ordinary skill in the art would recognize other variations,
modi?cations, and alternatives. The layout diagram illus
trates the top-view of the module 610, where the backside
components (e.g., Host Interface Controller) are depicted in
dashed lines. The layout diagram has a ?rst portion, which
includes a central processing unit (“CPU”) module 600, and
replaced, at times, with hardware. Accordingly, the present
a second portion, which includes a hard drive module 620.
A common printed circuit board 637 houses these modules
embodiments should not be construed as limiting the scope
of the claims here. One of ordinary skill in the art would
and the like. Among other features, the ACM includes the
50
recognize other variations, modi?cations, and alternatives.
FIG. 5 is a simpli?ed side-view diagram of a computer
module according to an embodiment of the present inven
tion. This diagram is merely an illustration and should not
limit the scope of the claims herein. One of ordinary skill in
55
the art would recognize other variations, modi?cations, and
alternatives. Some of the reference numerals are similar to
60
the previous FIG. for easy reading. As shown, the ACM
module inserts into the computer module bay frame 519,
microcontroller, digital signal processor, and the like. In a
speci?c embodiment, the CPU module uses, for example, a
400 MHz Pentium II microprocessor module from Intel
which is in the console. A side 527 and a bottom 519 of
ACM slide and ?t ?rmly into the computer module bay
frame, which has at least a bottom portion 519 and back
portion 526. Abackside 523 of the ACM faces backside 526
of the frame. ACM also has a front-side or face 525 that
central processing unit module 600 with a cache memory
605, which is coupled to a north bridge unit 621, and a host
interface controller 601. The host interface controller
includes a lock control 603. As shown, the CPU module is
disposed on a ?rst portion of the attached computer module,
and couples to connectors 617. Here, the CPU module is
spatially located near connector 617.
The CPU module can use a suitable microprocessing unit,
65
Corporation and like microprocessors from AMD Corpora
tion, Cyrix Corporation (now National Semiconductor Cor
poration), and others. In other aspects, the microprocessor
can be one such as the Compaq Computer Corporation
US 7,328,297 B2
13
14
Alpha Chip, Apple Computer Corporation PowerPC G3
ACM. The module bay also includes, among other elements,
processor, and the like. Further, higher speed processors are
contemplated in other embodiments as technology increases
in the future.
In the CPU module, host interface controller 601 is
coupled to BIOS/?ash memory 605. Additionally, the host
a variety of thermal components for heat dissipation, a frame
that provides connector alignment, and a lock engagement,
which secures the ACM to the console. The bay also has a
printed circuit board to mount and mate the connector from
the ACM to the console. The connector provides an interface
between the ACM and other accessories.
FIG. 7 is a simpli?ed block diagram 700 of a security
system for a computer module according to an embodiment
interface controller is coupled to a clock control logic, a
con?guration signal, and a peripheral bus. The present
invention has a host interface controller that has lock control
603 to provide security features to the present ACM. Fur
of the present invention. This diagram is merely an illustra
thermore, the present invention uses a ?ash memory that
tion and should not limit the scope of the claims herein. One
includes codes to provide password protection or other
electronic security methods.
The second portion of the attached computer module has
of ordinary skill in the art would recognize other variations,
modi?cations, and alternatives. The block diagram 700 has
the hard drive module 620. Among other elements, the hard
others. In the present diagram, different reference numerals
are used to show the operation of the present system.
The block diagram is an attached computer module 700.
The module 700 has a central processing unit, which com
municates to a north bridge 741, by way of a CPU bus 727.
The north bridge couples to main memory 723 via memory
bus 729. The main memory can be any suitable high speed
a variety of features such as those noted above, as well as
drive module includes north bridge 621, graphics accelerator
623, graphics memory 625, a power controller 627, an IDE
controller 629, and other components. Adjacent to and in
parallel alignment with the hard drive module is a personal
computer interface (“PCI”) bus 631, 632. Apower regulator
20
635 is disposed near the PCI bus.
In a speci?c embodiment, north bridge unit 621 often
couples to a computer memory, to the graphics accelerator
623, to the IDE controller, and to the host interface controller
via the PCI bus. Graphics accelerator 623 typically couples
memory device or devices such as dynamic random access
memory (“DRAM”) integrated circuits and others. The
25
to a graphics memory 623, and other elements. IDE con
troller 629 generally supports and provides timing signals
necessary for the IDE bus. In the present embodiment, the
IDE controller is embodied as a 643U2 PCI-to IDE chip
from CMD Technology, for example. Other types of buses
than IDE are contemplated, for example EIDE, SCSI, 1394,
and the like in alternative embodiments of the present
30
98 operating system from Microsoft Corporation of Red
mond Wash. Other operating systems, such as WindowsNT,
MacOS8, Unix, and the like are also contemplated in
alternative embodiments of the present invention. Further,
couples to a display, for example.
The attached computer module also includes a primary
hard disk drive that serves as a main memory unit for
35
example, the hard disk is a Marathon 2250 (2.25 GB, 21/2
40
some typical application software programs can include
Corel, and others. Hard disk module 620 includes a hard disk
45
factor, for example 2.5", is currently contemplated, however,
50
connects to the console, which has at least the following
elements, which should not be limiting.
1) Connection to input devices, e.g. keyboard or mouse;
55
2) Connection to display devices, e.g. Monitor;
3) Add-on means, e.g. PCI add-on slots;
4) Removable storage media subsystem, e.g. Floppy drive,
CDROM drive;
5) Communication device, e.g. LAN or modem;
60
device. The ?ash memory device generally permits the
storage of such password without a substantial use of power,
even when disconnected. As merely an example, the ?ash
memory device has at least 4 Meg. or greater of memory, or
16 Meg. or greater of memory. A host interface controller
707 communications to the north bridge via bus 735 and host
PCI bus. The host interface controller also has a lock control
709, which couples to a lock. The lock is attached to the
controller 707 communicates to the console using bus 711,
which couples to connection 713.
In one aspect of the present invention the security system
uses a combination of electrical and mechanical locking
8) Power supply and other accessories.
module bay provides mechanical support and protection to
the north bridge by way of the host PCI bus, which connects
bus 737 to the north bridge. The hard disk includes computer
codes that implement a security program according to the
present invention. Details of the security program are pro
vided below.
The attached computer module also has a ?ash memory
module and has a manual override to the lock on the host
interface controller in some embodiments. Host interface
6) An interface device and connectors to ACM;
7) A computer module bay with a notch in the frame for
ACM’s lock; and
As noted, the computer module bay is an opening in a
peripheral console that receives the ACM. The computer
Valley, but can be others. The hard disk communicates to the
north bridge by way of a hard disk drive controller and bus
lines 702 and 731. The hard disk drive controller couples to
device 705 with a BIOS. The ?ash memory device 705 also
has codes for a user password that can be stored in the
other form factors, such as PC card, and the like are also
contemplated. Mass storage unit 240 may also support other
interfaces than IDE. Among other features, the computer
system includes an ACM with security protection. The ACM
programs and the like. The hard disk can be any suitable
drive that has at least 2 GB and greater. As merely an
inch drive) product made by Seagate Corporation of Scotts
O?ice98 by Microsoft Corporation, Corel Perfect Suite by
drive. The hard disk drive, however, can also be replaced by
removable hard disk drives, read/write CD ROMs, ?ash
memory, ?oppy disk drives, and the like. A small form
graphics memory, and other devices. Graphics subsystem
transmits a video signal to an interface connector, which
invention.
The hard drive module or mass storage unit 620 typically
includes a computer operating system, application software
program ?les, data ?les, and the like. In a speci?c embodi
ment, the computer operating system may be the Windows
DRAM includes at least 32 Meg. or 64 Meg. and greater of
memory, but can also be less depending upon the applica
tion. Alternatively, the main memory can be coupled directly
with the CPU in some embodiments. The north bridge also
couples to a graphics subsystem 715 via bus 742. The
graphics subsystem can include a graphics accelerator,
mechanisms. Referring to FIG. 7A, for example, the present
65
system provides a lock status mechanism in the host inter
face controller 709. The lock status of the lock is determined
by checking a lock status bit 749, which is in the host
US 7,328,297 B2
15
16
interface controller. The lock status bit is determined by a
device, which is generally hardware. The permanent ?nger
signal 753, which is dependent upon the position of the lock.
Here, the position of the lock is closed in the ground 759
position, where the latch couples to a ground plane in the
module and/or system. Alternatively, the signal of the lock
is at Vcc, for example, which is open. Alternatively, the
signal can be ground in the open position and Vcc in the
print can be used for identi?cation purposes for allowing the
user of the hardware to access the hardware itself, as well as
other systems. These other systems include local and wide
area networks. Alternatively, the systems can also include
one or more servers. The present password and user iden
nal schemes can also be used depending upon the applica
tion.
Once the status is determined, the host interface controller
ti?cation can be quite important for electronic commerce
applications and the like. In one or more embodiments, the
permanent password or user code can be combined with the
password on ?ash memory for the security program.
In one aspect of the invention, the user password is
turns the lock via solenoid 757 in a lock on or lock off
programmable. The password can be programmable by way
position, which is provided through the control bit 751, for
of the security program. The password can be stored in a
?ash memory device within the ACM. Accordingly, the user
of the ACM and the console would need to have the user
password in order to access the ACM. In the present aspect,
the combination of a security program and user password
can provide the user a wide variety of security functions as
follows:
closed position, depending upon the application. Other sig
example. The control bit is in a register of the host interface
controller in the present example. By way of the signal
schemes noted and the control bit, it is possible to place the
lock in the lock or unlock position in an electronic manner.
Once the status of the lock is determined, the host interface
controller can either lock or unlock the latch on the module
using a variety of prompts, for example.
20
In a preferred embodiment, the present invention uses a
password protection scheme to electronically prevent unau
thorized access to the computer module. The present pass
word protection scheme uses a combination of software,
which is a portion of the security program, and a user
password, which can be stored in the ?ash memory device
25
705. By way of the ?ash memory device, the password does
not become erased by way of power failure or the lock. The
password is substantially ?xed in code, which cannot be
easily erased. Should the user desire to change the password,
it can readily be changed by erasing the code, which is stored
in ?ash memory and a new code (i.e., password) is written
into the ?ash memory. An example of a ?ash memory device
can include a Intel Flash 28F800F3 series ?ash, which is
available in 8 Mbit and 16 Mbit designs. Other types of ?ash
devices can also be used, however. Details of a password
30
programming techniques using, for example, fuses or the
35
40
The present method allows a third party con?rm the user by
way of the permanent password or user code. The present
password and user identi?cation can be quite important for
45
permanent password or user code can be combined with the
50
night; (2) programmed ACM to be used after certain date,
e.g., high security procedure during owner’s vacation or non
use period; (3) other uses similar to a programmable time
lock. Further details of the present real-time clock are
55
includes a permanent password or user identi?cation code to
60
device. Alternatively, the permanent password or user code
is stored in the central processing unit. The password or user
code can be placed in the device upon manufacture of such
device. Alternatively, the password or user code can be
or user code provides a permanent “?nger print” on the
password on ?ash memory for the security program.
An embodiment of a computer module in accordance with
the present invention, comprises, an enclosure, said enclo
sure being insertable into a console; a central processing unit
in said enclosure, said central processing unit comprising a
microprocessor based integrated circuit chip; a hard disk
drive in said enclosure, said hard disk drive being coupled
to said central processing unit; and a programmable memory
device in said enclosure, said programmable memory device
being con?gurable to store a password for preventing a
possibility of unauthorized use of said hard disk drive.
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, the com
identify the computer module. In one embodiment, the
placed in the device by a one time programming techniques
using, for example, fuses or the like. The present password
electronic commerce applications and the like, which verify
the user code or password. In one or more embodiments, the
example, these functions include: (1) ?xed time period in
permanent password or user code is stored in a ?ash memory
access the hardware itself, as well as other systems. These
other systems include local and wide area networks. Alter
natively, the systems can also include one or more servers.
the host interface controller. An energy source 706 such as
described in the application listed under Ser. No. 09/183,816
noted above.
In still a further embodiment, the present invention also
like. The present password or user code provides a perma
nent “?nger print” on the device, which is generally hard
ware. The permanent ?nger print can be used for identi?
cation purposes for allowing the user of the hardware to
In a speci?c embodiment, the present invention also
which the ACM can be used, e.g., ACM cannot be used at
includes a method for reading a permanent password or user
identi?cation code to identify the computer module. In one
embodiment, the permanent password or user code is stored
in a ?ash memory device. Alternatively, the permanent
password or user code is stored in the central processing
unit. The password or user code can be placed in the device
upon manufacture of such device. Alternatively, the pass
FIG.
a battery can be used to keep the real-time clock circuit
running even when the ACM has been removed from the
console. The real-time clock can be used by a security
program to perform a variety of functions. As merely an
4) Automatic HDD lock out if tampering is detected.
In still a further embodiment, the present invention also
word or user code can be placed in the device by a one time
protection method are further explained below by way of the
includes a real-time clock 710 in the ACM, but is not
limited. The real-time clock can be implemented using a
reference oscillator 14.31818 MHZ 708 that couples to a
real-time clock circuit. The real-time clock circuit can be in
1) Auto-lock capability when ACM is inserted into CMB;
2) Access privilege of program and data;
3) Password matching for ACM removal; and
puter module may further comprise a host interface control
ler for providing a status of a locking device in said
enclosure.
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, the com
65
puter module may further comprise a mechanical locking
device that is coupled to said programmable memory device.
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, the com
puter module may further comprise a host interface control
US 7,328,297 B2
17
18
ler coupled to a mechanical locking device, said host inter
The above embodiments are described generally in terms
face controller being coupled to said programmable memory
of hardware and software. It will be recognized, however,
device.
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, the pro
grammable memory device may further comprise a ?ash
memory device.
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, the pro
grammable memory device may further comprise a ?ash
memory device having at least 8 Mbits of cells and greater.
that the functionality of the hardware can be further com
bined or even separated. The functionality of the software
can also be further combined or even separated. Hardware
can be replaced, at times, with software. Software can be
replaced, at times, with hardware. Accordingly, the present
embodiments should not be construed as limiting the scope
of the claims here. One of ordinary skill in the art would
recognize other variations, modi?cations, and alternatives.
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, the com
While the above is a full description of the speci?c
embodiments, various modi?cations, alternative construc
tions and equivalents may be used. Therefore, the above
description and illustrations should not be taken as limiting
the scope of the present invention which is de?ned by the
puter module may further comprise a security program in a
main memory.
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, the secu
rity program may comprise a code for storing a password on
said programmable memory device.
appended claims.
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, the secu
rity program may comprise a code for checking a time from
said real-time clock circuit.
What is claimed is:
1. A computer system comprising:
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, the com
puter module may further comprise a host interface control
20
ler coupled to a solenoid that drives a mechanical lock in a
enclosure housing the coupling sites,
?rst position to a second position. In accordance with an
alternative embodiment, the solenoid also drives said
mechanical lock from said second position to said ?rst
position.
a serial communication controller powered by the power
supply, and
25
nector and the slot, comprising
coupled to said central processing unit.
puter module may further comprise a battery coupled to a
host interface controller that includes said real-time clock.
An embodiment of a method in accordance with the
present invention for operating a computer system, com
prises, inserting an attached computer module (“ACM”) into
a bay of a modular computer system, said ACM comprising
a second enclosure,
30
password for preventing unauthorized access to the
35
a microprocessor unit coupled to a mass memory storage
prompting for a user password from a user on a display.
40
may comprise an enclosure that houses said microprocessor
unit and said mass memory storage device.
password may be provided to said security program.
45
50
power is removed from said ACM.
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, the ?ash
memory device is coupled to a host interface controller that
55
a console comprising a power supply, a ?rst coupling site
and a second coupling site, each coupling site com
prising a connector and a slot, the console being an
enclosure housing the coupling sites,
powered by the power supply, and
60
a plurality of computer modules; each computer module
coupled to one of the coupling site through the con
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, the
method wherein the permanent password or user code is
nector and the slot, comprising
a processing unit,
a main memory coupled to the processing unit,
stored in the microprocessor unit.
cessor unit.
4. The computer system of claim 1 wherein the console
further comprises a video switch coupled to the graphics
controller of the computer module.
5. The computer system of claim 1 wherein the computer
an Ethernet controller coupled to an external network and
method further comprises identifying a permanent password
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, the
method wherein the permanent password or user code is
stored in a ?ash memory device coupled to the micropro
security program.
6. A computer system comprising:
paring said user password with a desired password.
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, the
or user code on said attached computer module.
module further comprises a mass storage unit storing a
module further comprises an interface controller that com
municates to the console.
is coupled to the microprocessor based unit.
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, the mass
memory storage device comprises a code directed to com
2. The computer system of claim 1 wherein each com
puter module further comprises a communication controller
coupled to the serial communication controller in the con
3. The computer system of claim 1 wherein the computer
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, a ?ash
memory device may store a desired password for said ACM.
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, the ?ash
memory device maintains said desired password when
computer module;
wherein each of the computer modules is substantially
similar in design to each other and operates fully
independent of each other.
sole adapted to transfer data between any two of the com
puter modules and to an external network.
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, the ACM
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, a user
a processing unit,
a main memory coupled to the processing unit,
a graphics controller, and
a ?ash memory device being con?gurable to store a
device; applying power to said computer system and said
ACM to execute a security program, said security program
being stored in said mass memory storage device; and
a plurality of computer modules; each computer module
coupled to one of the coupling site through the con
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, the com
puter module may further comprise a real-time clock circuit
In accordance with an alternative embodiment, the com
a console comprising a power supply, a ?rst coupling site
and a second coupling site, each coupling site com
prising a connector and a slot, the console being a ?rst
65
a ?ash memory device being con?gurable to store a
password for preventing unauthorized access to the
computer module, and
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