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Embedded servers

An embedded server is a computer designed to perform a narrow range of tasks. As a rule, embedded systems have small dimensions (rarely exceed 250x150x30mm), do not have carriers with mechanical parts (hard drives), and also have low energy consumption. The server can perform various functions: ensure the operation of network services (DHCP, DNS, WINS, etc.), serve video surveillance systems, broadcast network video or radio, be an Internet gateway, etc.

We have developed a software development and assembly system that allows you to quickly create firmware for embedded systems according to customer requirements. The customer explains to us what he wants to receive from the server, and we make the server. The development and assembly system allows you to quickly get the finished result, and, which is also important, quickly make changes to the project.

Using our embedded-servers for network and IT technologies allows us to abandon the system administrator when the network needs to be "lubricated" and "screwed" all the time for it to work. We tried to make a "set and forget" system. Our embedded servers, in order to reduce costs, are based on the boards of two manufacturers: IEI Technology Corp. and Broadcom Corporation.
Embedded Server Board 3.5"

IEI Technology embedded server board measuring just 3.5"

Consider the application of an embedded server as an example of a practical task: building a local network of a small company. The server must provide the work of DHCP, DNS, WINS services, the normal operation of the network environment (NetBIOS), as well as an Internet gateway with a uniform distribution of traffic between users and a VPN server for remote connections to the office. As practice shows, for an ordinary system administrator this is a very difficult task.

Broadcom Corporation board is perfect for these purposes: it has 5 built-in network interfaces and one mini-PCI slot, in which you can install a Wi-Fi card if you wish. The board has RAM-64MB, ROM-8MB (flash), as well as 2 USB3.0 connectors for connecting external devices. Power consumption - only 15W!

Only the required programs are laid in the firmware, and not everything in a row, as in desktop systems, so large amounts of memory are not required. The firmware image consists of 3 parts: a boot loader, a kernel, and an image of the root file system, which are compressed using SquashFS with an LZMA patch to ensure the minimum amount of space in ROM. In practice, very rarely the firmware size exceeds 4.5 Mb, i.e. about half of the flash-memory remain free: the jffs2 file system is mounted on this part of the ROM, and it is used to save the operational data of the server, for example, DHCP leasing, logs, etc.
Click to enlarge

Embedded server based on "Broadcom Corporation"

Further, the embedded server simply connects to the network and everything works! Access to the server, if necessary, operational intervention in its activities, is made from a remote console, i.e. as well as with a regular computer. Using the remote console, you can also change the firmware in ROM. If necessary, external devices - drives, video cameras, HID devices - are connected using a USB interface.

It should be noted that embedded servers for video surveillance systems, conveyor maintenance, network video broadcasting, etc. are made in the same way.

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