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Patent Issued for Apparatus, System, and Method for Device Level Enablement of a Communications Protocol

September 9, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Information Technology Newsweekly -- A patent by the inventors Candelaria, Susan K. (Tucson, AZ); Hathorn, Roger G. (Tucson, AZ); Kalos, Matthew J. (Tucson, AZ); Peterson, Beth (Tucson, AZ), filed on September 24, 2009, was published online on August 26, 2014, according to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews correspondents.

Patent number 8819218 is assigned to International Business Machines Corporation (Armonk, NY).

The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Description of the Related Art

"Carefully defined communications protocols provide efficient, reliable, communications. As data is increasingly being stored and transmitted electronically, communications protocols are likewise becoming increasingly important. Communications protocols determine the amount of data that can be transmitted over a communications channel, and the speed that data is transmitted. Communications protocols can also either cause data loss and data corruption, or prevent them.

"Communications protocols may be updated to increase transmission speed, throughput, reliability, and other issues. New protocols may also add additional features to existing protocols. As communications devices are updated for compatibility with new communications protocols, communications are often in mixed environments, with some devices that are compatible with a new communications protocol and others that are not. Even when an entire group of communications devices are updated for compatibility with a protocol, an update may fail or be interrupted on an individual device, leaving the device incompatible with the protocol.

"Additionally, many communications protocols allow for multiple communications paths between devices. Certain communications paths between the same two communications devices may be compatible with a communications protocol, while other communications paths between the two devices are incompatible. Even within a single communications device, some individual components may be compatible with a communications protocol while other individual components are not. This is especially true for distributed communications protocols that involve multiple distributed communications devices."

In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "From the foregoing discussion, it should be apparent that a need exists for an apparatus, system, and method that determine compatibility relative to a communications protocol. Beneficially, such an apparatus, system, and method would determine compatibility for a plurality of distributed communications devices.

"The present invention has been developed in response to the present state of the art, and in particular, in response to the problems and needs in the art that have not yet been fully solved by currently available compatibility determinations. Accordingly, the present invention has been developed to provide an apparatus, system, and method for device level enablement of a communications protocol that overcome many or all of the above-discussed shortcomings in the art.

"The apparatus for device level enablement of a communications protocol is provided with a plurality of modules configured to functionally execute the necessary steps of determining device level compatibility with the communications protocol. These modules in the described embodiments include an adapter compatibility module, a processor compatibility module, a compatibility summary module, a status message module, a code update module, and a summary update module.

"In one embodiment, the adapter compatibility module determines an adapter compatibility status for a plurality of host adapters. A positive adapter compatibility status, in a further embodiment, indicates that each host adapter in the plurality of host adapters is compatible with a communications protocol.

"In one embodiment, the processor compatibility module determines a processor compatibility status for one or more processors. The one or more processors, in one embodiment, coordinate data transfers to and from the plurality of host adapters. In a further embodiment, a positive processor compatibility status indicates that each of the one or more processors is compatible with the communications protocol.

"In one embodiment, the compatibility summary module determines a compatibility summary for the plurality of host adapters and the one or more processors. The compatibility summary, in a further embodiment, indicates a positive compatibility relative to the communications protocol in response to a positive processor compatibility status and a positive adapter compatibility status.

"In one embodiment, the status message module provides the compatibility summary to each host adapter in the plurality of host adapters. In a further embodiment, each of the plurality of host adapters is configured to transmit the compatibility summary over a communications channel.

"The status message module, in one embodiment, provides the compatibility summary to each host adapter in the plurality of host adapters using an internal message delivery system. In another embodiment, the status message module provides the compatibility summary to each host adapter in the plurality of host adapters using a peripheral component interconnect write operation that writes the compatibility summary to a host adapter. In a further embodiment, the status message module provides the compatibility summary to each host adapter in the plurality of host adapters using a direct memory access write operation that writes the compatibility summary to a host adapter.

"In one embodiment, the code update module updates one or more host adapters from the plurality of host adapters such that the one or more host adapters are compatible with the communications protocol. In a further embodiment, the one or more host adapters report a positive compatibility with the communications protocol to the adapter compatibility module in response to the update.

"In one embodiment, the summary update module updates the compatibility summary in response to a change in the adapter compatibility status. The change in the adapter compatibility status, in one embodiment, comprises an addition of a host adapter to the plurality of host adapters that is incompatible with the communications protocol.

"In one embodiment, the compatibility summary comprises one or more compatibility flags. Each of the plurality of host adapters, in a further embodiment, is configured to transmit the one or more compatibility flags over a communications channel during a handshake procedure. In another embodiment, the handshake procedure comprises a fibre process login procedure, and each of the plurality of host adapters are configured to transmit the one or more compatibility flags over the communications channel in a process login response.

"In one embodiment, the one or more processors comprise at least two groups of symmetric multiprocessors. In a further embodiment, each group of symmetric multiprocessors reports a group compatibility status to the processor compatibility module. Each group of symmetric multiprocessors, in another embodiment, comprises a central electronic complex that coordinates data transfers between the plurality of host adapters and one or more data storage devices.

"In one embodiment, each host adapter in the plurality of host adapters comprises a fibre channel host adapter. In a further embodiment, the communications protocol comprises a fibre channel extension protocol that comprises an additional feature over an existing fibre channel protocol, and the communications channel comprises a fibre communications channel.

"A system of the present invention is also presented for device level enablement of a communications protocol. The system may be embodied by a plurality of host adapters, one or more processors, and a protocol compatibility module. In particular, the protocol compatibility module, in one embodiment, is substantially similar to the apparatus described above. In another embodiment, the system may further include one or more data storage repositories.

"A computer program product, a method, and an additional system of the present invention are also presented for device level enablement of a communications protocol. The computer program product, the method, and the additional system in the disclosed embodiments substantially include the modules and steps necessary to carry out the functions presented above with respect to the operation of the described apparatus and system.

"Reference throughout this specification to features, advantages, or similar language does not imply that all of the features and advantages that may be realized with the present invention should be or are in any single embodiment of the invention. Rather, language referring to the features and advantages is understood to mean that a specific feature, advantage, or characteristic described in connection with an embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the present invention. Thus, discussion of the features and advantages, and similar language, throughout this specification may, but do not necessarily, refer to the same embodiment.

"Furthermore, the described features, advantages, and characteristics of the invention may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more embodiments. One skilled in the relevant art will recognize that the invention may be practiced without one or more of the specific features or advantages of a particular embodiment. In other instances, additional features and advantages may be recognized in certain embodiments that may not be present in all embodiments of the invention.

"These features and advantages of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims, or may be learned by the practice of the invention as set forth hereinafter."

URL and more information on this patent, see: Candelaria, Susan K.; Hathorn, Roger G.; Kalos, Matthew J.; Peterson, Beth. Apparatus, System, and Method for Device Level Enablement of a Communications Protocol. U.S. Patent Number 8819218, filed September 24, 2009, and published online on August 26, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=8819218.PN.&OS=PN/8819218RS=PN/8819218

Keywords for this news article include: Information Technology, Information and Data Storage, International Business Machines Corporation.

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Source: Information Technology Newsweekly


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