News Column

Patent Application Titled "Electronic Device with Card Interface" Published Online

February 20, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Politics & Government Week -- According to news reporting originating from Washington, D.C., by VerticalNews journalists, a patent application by the inventors OKAMOTO, Kosei (Kunitachi-shi, JP); SAKAMOTO, Hiroyuki (Ome-shi, JP); FUJIMOTO, Akihisa (Fussa-shi, JP); SUGA, Masao (Ome-shi, JP), filed on July 23, 2013, was made available online on February 6, 2014.

The assignee for this patent application is Kabushiki Kaisha Toshiba.

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates to an electronic device equipped with a card interface, and more particularly to an electronic device suitable to set an operation mode for a card-shaped device connected thereto via the card interface.

"Various types of electronic devices represented by personal computers generally have a function of using an IC card (PC card) based on the PCMCIA (Personal Computer Memory Card International Association). The PC card is used not only as a data storing medium but also for expanding its peripheral function. For example, there are some PC cards that function as a modem card, a network card, a hard disk drive, and a transmitter, etc.

"Further, in recent years, IC cards smaller than the PC cards are being used as well as the PC cards. One of these small IC cards is a small memory card that has a flash memory for storing various types of digital data represented by image data or music data. As is well known, the flash memory is a non-volatile memory, which is electrically programmable and has its stored contents kept as they are even when power supply is interrupted. In such small memory cards having a flash memory, in general, only one of a plurality of pins is used, as a data pin (data line). Accordingly, the small memory cards execute 1-bit data transfer.

"Furthermore, a small memory card called an 'SD (Secure Digital) memory card' is also available. The SD memory card has been developed by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., SanDisk Corporation and Toshiba Corporation. The SD memory card has nine signal pins, four of which can be used as data lines. Thus, the SD memory card realizes 4-bit data transfer, which means that it has a higher data transfer capacity than the previous small memory card that executes 1-bit data transfer.

"As another small card, there is an I/O card having an I/O (Input/Output) interface function. After the appearance of the SD memory card, it is requested that such a small I/O card and the SD memory card can be used through a common card slot formed in an electronic device (a host) such as a personal computer, as in the. case of the PC cards. To enable a small memory card, such as the SD memory card, and various types of small I/O cards to be commonly used-in an electronic device, it is necessary to give those cards, for example, the same pin arrangement and the same shape. Even in this case, however, the following problem will occur.

"In small memory cards, many of the pins provided therein are used as data lines to enhance their data transfer capacity. For example, in the SD memory card, four of the nine pins are used as data lines as aforementioned. Accordingly, if the same pin arrangement and the same shape are imparted to the small memory cards and the small I/O cards, many pins are used for data transfer between an electronic device and each small I/O card. Using a lot of pins as data lines to enhance the data transfer capacity is effective in the case of a card-shaped device such as a memory card, which does not execute data transfer so often but transfers a large amount of data at one time. On the other hand, it is not so important to enhance the data transfer capacity in the case of a card-shaped device such as an I/O card, which executes data transfer (i.e. transaction) many times although it does not transfer a large amount of data at one time. It is more important to start data transfer quickly, i.e. to increase the speed of a response."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent application, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "The present invention has been developed in light of the above, and aims to enable an electronic device to set an operation mode for a card-shaped device which is connected thereto when it is used, by a common procedure irrespective of the type of the card-shaped device, the operation mode including signal assignment and being peculiar to the card-shaped device.

"To attain the aim, an electronic device according to a first aspect comprises a card interface, operation mode acquiring means and operation mode setting means. The card interface is designed to be connected to a card-shaped device that has a connector section provided with connector pins including data pins. The operation mode acquiring means acquires, when the card interface is connected to the card-shaped device, operation mode information of the card-shaped device via a predetermined one of the connector pins of the card-shaped device other than the data pins. The operation mode setting means executes signal assignment on each of the data pins on the basis of the operation mode information acquired by the operation mode acquiring means.

"In this electronic device, even when a memory card and various types of I/O cards having different interface functions are made to have a common pin arrangement, an operation mode including a mode for signal assignment on the data pins of each card (card-shaped device) connected to the electronic device can be set at an operation mode peculiar to the card. Moreover, this operation mode setting can be executed irrespective of, for example, the type of each card.

"An electronic device according to a second aspect further comprises operation condition acquiring means and power supply voltage switch means. The operation condition acquiring means acquires, via the predetermined connector pin, an operation condition of the card-shaped device, the operation condition including an operating voltage applied to the card-shaped device. The switch means switches a power supply voltage, supplied to the card-shaped device, from a predetermined initial voltage to the operating voltage included in the operation condition.

"In this electronic device, an operation condition suitable for a card-shaped device connected to the electronic device can be set irrespective of, for example, the type of the card-shaped device.

"In an electronic device according to a third aspect, the operation mode setting means has three functions. A first function is a function of assigning all the data pins to a data transfer process when the operation mode information indicates a first operation mode. A second function is a function executed when the operation mode information indicates the second operation mode, i.e. a function of assigning a predetermined number of ones of the data pins to the data transfer process, assigning one of the remaining data pins to a process of transmitting a general purpose signal, assigning another of the remaining data pins to a process of informing the electronic device of a state of the card-shaped device, and assigning yet another of the remaining data pins to a process of transmitting an asynchronous interrupt signal from the card-shaped device to the electronic device. A third function is a function executed when the operation mode information indicates the third operation mode, i.e. a function of assigning another predetermined number, larger than the first-mentioned predetermined number, of ones of the data pins to the data transfer process, assigning one of the remaining data pins to the process of informing the electronic device of the state of the card-shaped device, and assigning another of the remaining data pins to the process of transmitting an asynchronous interrupt signal from the card-shaped device to the electronic device.

"In this electronic device, signal assignment suitable for each card-shaped device is executed thereon. For example, in a card-shaped device having operation mode information that indicates the first operation mode, all data pins are assigned to a data transfer process. Thus, the first operation mode is suitable for a card-shaped device that is required to transfer a large amount of data at high speed, although it does not execute data transfer so many times. In a card-shaped device having operation mode information that indicates the second operation mode, a smaller number of data pins are assigned to the data transfer process, but the remaining data pins are assigned to a process of transmitting a general purpose signal, a process of informing the electronic device of a state of the card-shaped device, and a process of transmitting an asynchronous interrupt signal. Accordingly, the second operation mode is suitable for a card-shaped device that is more required to transmit a response at high speed than to have a high data transfer capacity. The second operation mode is most suitable for a card-shaped device such as a modem interface, which needs an audio line, since a general purpose signal line can be used as the audio line. In a card-shaped device having operation mode information that indicates the third operation mode, no pin is assigned to be used as a general purpose signal line, but the number of data lines increases by one, as compared with the device having the operation mode information that indicates the second operation mode. Accordingly, the third operation mode is suitable for a card-shaped device such as a LAN interface, which is required to have a high data transfer capacity and high-speed response capability.

"Additional objects and advantages of the invention will be set forth in the description which follows, and in part will be obvious from the description, or may be learned by practice of the invention. The objects and advantages of the invention may be realized and obtained by means of the instrumentalities and combinations particularly pointed out hereinafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

"The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of the specification, illustrate presently preferred embodiments of the invention, and together with the general description given above and the detailed description of the preferred embodiments given below, serve to explain the principles of the invention.

"FIG. 1 is a block, diagram illustrating the structure of an information processing system according to the embodiment of the invention;

"FIG. 2 is a view illustrating a rough structure of a host 10, and the structure of an I/O card 20a as a card 20;

"FIGS. 3A and 3B are a flowchart useful in explaining the operation of the host 10, focusing on its card initialization process;.

"FIG. 4 is a view showing the relationship between a command output from the host 10 to the card 20, a response output from the card 20 to the host 10, and a CLK signal;

"FIG. 5 is a block diagram useful in explaining download of a device driver from the I/O card 20a to the host 10;

"FIG. 6 is a view illustrating an example of relationship between each operation mode employed in an I/O interface mode, and signal assignment;

"FIG. 7 is a view illustrating an essential part of a card interface 11 for realizing each operation mode; and.

"FIG. 8 is a block diagram showing an example of a structure in which a master 15 is incorporated in the host 10."

For more information, see this patent application: OKAMOTO, Kosei; SAKAMOTO, Hiroyuki; FUJIMOTO, Akihisa; SUGA, Masao. Electronic Device with Card Interface. Filed July 23, 2013 and posted February 6, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=583&p=12&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140130.PD.&OS=PD/20140130&RS=PD/20140130

Keywords for this news article include: Kabushiki Kaisha Toshiba.

Our reports deliver fact-based news of research and discoveries from around the world. Copyright 2014, NewsRx LLC


For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel



Source: Politics & Government Week


Story Tools