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PROVIDING REDUNDANCY FOR A DEVICE WITHIN A NETWORK
This application is a divisional ofU.S. Ser. No. 10/473,509 filed on Mar. 25, 2004; which is a national phase of PCT application number PCT/US02/40199 filed on Dec. 16, 2002; which claims priority to provisional application No. 60/425, 867 filed on Nov. 12, 2002.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION The field of the invention is data storage devices.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
There is a trend within the field of electronics to physically (i.e. geographically) disaggregate functionality, and to rely instead on networked resources. Of special interest are resources available over a packet communications network such as the Internet. In addition to the data being transferred, packets include header information such as type of data contained in the packet, i.e. HTML, voice, ASCII, etc., and origination and destination node information. The header information permits error checking, and routing across packet switched networks such as the Internet between devices that may be widely spaced apart. The header information also allows extremely disparate devices to communicate with each otherisuch as a clock radio to communicate with a computer. Recently published U.S. patent application no. 20020031086, (Welin, Mar. 14, 2002) refers to linking “computers, IP phones, talking toys and home appliances such as refrigerators, microwave ovens, bread machines, blenders, coffee makers, laundry machines, dryers, sweepers, thermostat assemblies, light switches, lamps, fans, drape and window shade motor controls, surveillance equipment, traflic monitoring, clocks, radios, network cameras, televisions, digital telephone answering devices, air conditioners, furnaces and central air conditioning apparatus.”
Communications with storage devices has not kept pace with the trend to disaggregate resources. Disk access has always been under the control of a disk operating system such as DOS, or Microsoft® Windows®. Unfortunately, putting the operating system at the conceptual center of all computing devices has resulted in a dependence on such operating systems, and has tended to produce ever larger and more complicated operating systems. Now that many electronic devices, from personal digital assistants to telephones, digital cameras, and game consoles, are becoming smaller and ever more portable, the dependence on large operating systems has become a liability. One solution is to provide a stripped-down operating system that requires much less overhead. Microsoft® CE® is an example. That solution, however, sacrifices considerable functionality present in the larger systems.
What is needed is a storage device that can be directly accessed by multiple other devices, without the need to go through an operating system.
In the present invention a storage device has partitions that are separately addressed by distinct IP addresses. This allows direct access of the partitions, on a peer-to-peer basis, by any other device that can communicate using IP. Many limitations on access to the storage device can thereby be eliminated,
including geographical limitations, and the need for a given storage partition to be under the central control of a single operating system.
Preferred storage devices support spanning between or among partitions of the same device, as well as between or among different storage devices. Both multicast and proxy spanning are contemplated.
Combinations of the inventive storage devices with each other, and with prior art storage devices are contemplated, in all manner of mirroring and other arrangements.
In still other aspects of the invention, a given storage device can comprise one or more types of media, including any combination of rotating and non-rotating media, magnetic and optical, and so forth.
Various objects, features, aspects and advantages of the inventive subject matter will become more apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments, along with the accompanying drawing figures.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING
FIG. 1 is a schematic of a prior art disk drive split into multiple partitions, but where the entire memory is accessed using a single IP address.
FIG. 2 is a schematic of a prior art storage system in which three disk drives are addressed in their entireties using three different IP addresses.
FIG. 3 is a schematic of a storage device having multiple partitions that are separately addressed by different IP addresses.
FIG. 4 is a schematic of a storage device having multiple partitions that are separately addressed by different IP addresses, and some of the partitions are addressed using multiple IP addresses.
FIG. 5 is a schematic of a storage device having multiple partitions comprising different storage media.
FIG. 6 is a schematic of a storage device having multiple partitions, two of which are spanned using multicast spanning.
FIG. 7 is a schematic of a storage device having multiple partitions, two of which are spanned using proxy spanning.
FIG. 8 is a schematic of a storage system in which three storage devices are logically coupled using multicast spanning.
FIG. 9 is a schematic of a storage system in which three storage devices are logically coupled using proxy spanning.
FIG. 10 is a schematic of a storage system in which partitions of a first storage device are mirrored on partitions of one or more additional storage device using multicast mirroring.
Prior art FIG. 1 generally depicts a disk drive 10 that is split into multiple partitions 10 A, 10 B, 10C . . . 10N. The entire storage area is addressed using a single address IP 1, with individual blocks of data being addressed by a combination of IP1 and some other information such as partition and offset, or Logical Block Address (LBA). The data is thus always accessed under the control of a disk operating system that provides the additional information. For that reason drive 10 is usually located very close to the processor that runs the operating system, and is usually connected to a hard bus of a computer, RAID or other system.
It is known to format the various partitions 10A . . . 10N differently from one another, under control of different operating systems. However, the entire memory space comprises
a single media type, namely rotating magnetic memory, even though there may be some sort of RAM buffer (not shown).
It should be appreciated that the term “IP” is used herein in a broad sense, to include any networking protocol. Thus, an IP address is used as a euphemism for a network address.
Prior art FIG. 2 generally depicts a storage system 20 in which three disk drives 21, 22, 23 are addressed using three different IP addresses, IP1, IP2, and IP3. The drives can have multiple partitions (drive 21 has three partitions 21 A, 21 B, 21 C (not shown), and drive 23 has two partitions 23 A and 23 B (not shown)), but here again individual blocks of data are addressed using a combination of the IP address, some other information such as partition and offset, or LBA. Drives 21, 22, 23 can be spanned and/or mirrored, but the data on each drive is always accessed using that drive’s particular IP address.
In FIG. 3 is a storage device 30 according to the present invention has three partitions 21 A, 21 B, 21C, which are separately addressed by different IP addresses IP1, IP2, IP3, respectively. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that showing a small plurality of partitions is merely a matter of convenience, in this and other figures, and that storage device 30 could have any practical number of partitions. Similarly, it should be appreciated that depicting storage devices without partitions indicates that such devices have no partitions.
Utilizing IP addresses to route packets directly to and from partitions facilitates the use of very light communication protocols. In particular, the partitions may be directly addressed at the IP level of TCP/ IP or UDP/IP stack. It should be appreciated, however, that in order make use of the IP addresses, the storage device 30 (and indeed the various partitions) would need to have suflicient functionality to communicate using IP. That functionality could be designed into the devices (or partitions), or it could be added onto storage devices using an IP adapter 32 (not shown). Indeed, the adapter in such circumstances would essentially be a simple block-to-packet and packet-to-block translator.
Storage device 30 can be connected to any suitable bus by any suitable means. Thus, the operative principles herein can operate across a wide variety of physical buses and protocols, including ATA, ATAPI, SCSI, Fiber CH, PCMCIA, CardBus, and USB. Storage device 30 can also alternatively or additionally operate across a network acting as a virtual IP bus, with the term “IP” being used herein generically with reference to any internetworking protocol that handles packets. It is contemplated, for example, that a user may have a standalone storage device that communicates Wirelessly with a Local Area Network (LAN), which in turn may be connected to a WAN or to the Internet. Other devices that are also connected to the network (whether in the home, oflice, or elsewhere) could directly access one or more partitions of the storage device. For example, an IP capable television (not shown) could display images or movies stored on one partition, while a digital camera (not shown) could store/retrieve images on another partition. Still another partition might hold an operating system and oflice software for use with a laptop, or even an IP capable display and IP capable keyboard and mouse. Printing from any of the partitions might occur on an IP capable printer that is also connected Wirelessly, or by hardwire, to the network.
An interesting corollary is that the partitions or other elements can all communicate as peers on a peer-to-peer network. As used herein, the term “element” refers to a hardware unit that is a functional portion of a device, and traditionally communicates with other units of the same device across a bus, without having its own IP address. This can completely eliminate dependence on any particular operating system, and
can eliminate operating systems altogether. In addition, many of the elements attached to the network will be dependent on other elements attached to the network to perform tasks that are not within their individual capacities, and will be able to discover, reserve, and release the resources of other peers needed to perform such tasks. Peers will preferably be able to discover the other elements attached to the network, the characteristics of the other elements attached to the network, and possibly the contents of at least some of the elements attached to the network. Such discovery is accomplished without the assistance of a master device, and will preferably involve direct communication between the peer elements.
Preferred networks will be masterless in that all elements have equal access to the network and the other elements attached to the network. The peer elements of the network will preferably communicate with each other utilizing lowlevel protocols such as those that would equate to those of the transport and lower layers of the OSI model. Preferred embodiments will utilize TCP and UDP IP protocols for communication between elements.
Storage device 30 is preferably able to dynamically create partitions upon receipt of requests from network elements. For example, when a network element requests use of device 30, the network element may provide a unique identifier, possibly a name, to storage device 30, which in turn associates the identifier with any newly created partition. In some instances the network element may also request a particular storage size to be allocated, including all of the remaining storage available on the storage device 30.
In preferred embodiments, the IP addresses for such partitions are obtained from an address server such as a DHCP server upon request from the storage device 30. It is important to note, however, that address allocation devices such as DHCP servers are not masters, since they don’t control the network, elements coupled to the network, or the sharing of resources between elements. Assignment of IP addresses to partitions may additionally or alternatively occur during initialization of the device, such as when it is first turned on.
Since storage device 30 may be associated with only a single network interface card (N IC), it is preferred that storage elements be able to obtain multiple IP addresses despite having a single NIC and a single media access control (MAC) address. This can be accomplished by providing a unique partition identifier to an address server when trying to obtain a IP address from the address server. It is contemplated that associating a name provided by an element with any partition created for that element makes it possible to identify each of the partitions of a storage element, despite the fact that IP address associated with each partition may have changed since the partition was created.
Additional details can be found in concurrently filed PCT application no. PCT/US02/40205, entitled “Communication Protocols, Systems and Methods” and PCT application no. PCT/US02/40198, entitled “Electrical Devices With Improved Communication”, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.
In FIG. 4, storage device 40 is similar to storage device 30 in that it has multiple partitions 41 A, 41 B, 41C, 41 D that are separately addressed by different IP addresses IP1, IP2, IP3, IP4, respectively. But here some of the partitions are addressed using multiple IP addresses. In particular, partition 41 A is addressed WithIP1 and IP5. Partition 41 D is addressed with IP4, IP6 and IP7.
In FIG. 5 a storage device 50 has multiple partitions comprising different storage media. In this particular example there are 2 partitions of rotating media 50 A, 50 B, one partition of flash memory 500. All other practical combinations of