CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This is a continuation-in-part that claims priority under 35 U.S.C. § 120 to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/403,794, filed on Mar. 23, 2003, entitled “Universal Computer Enclosure,” and is related to U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______, filed on Jan. 30, 2004, entitled “Tool-Less Attachment and Removal of Components in a Computer Enclosure,” both of which are incorporated by reference herein in their entirety.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to an enclosure for storing computer-related devices, and more particularly, to storing accessories for the computer-related devices in a zero rack unit space within the enclosure.
Modern businesses make increasing use of multiple computer equipment, such as server blades. The computer equipment is typically placed in specialized cabinets for use and storage. The EIA-310-D standard, promulgated by the Electronic Industries Association, harmonizes many aspects of the specialized cabinets. For example, the cabinets have rails on the left and right sides near the front of the cabinet with holes that are used to attach the computer equipment. The EIA-310-D standard defines the distance between the left and right rails, as well as the spacing of the holes in the rails. Indeed, many large computer device and server manufacturers conform to this standard.
However, the EIA-310-D standard leaves many aspects of the cabinet unspecified. For example, the holes in the rails may be square or circular. While the distance between the left and right side rails is specified, creating a specified width of an opening between the rails, the standard does not specify the width available within the cabinet behind the rails, or the depth of the cabinet. In addition, the standard does not address where to store accessories, such as a power strip.
Thus, many computer component and server vendors sell products that conform to the EIA-310-D specification, but have different mounting and spacing requirements. Formerly, specialized cabinets were designed to hold the equipment from a single vendor. Typically, a business would purchase computer devices from a single vendor to perform a task or set of tasks and store those devices together in the cabinet designed for that vendor. Devices that perform another task or set of tasks would be purchased from another vendor and stored in another cabinet designed for that second vendor.
However, businesses have increasingly consolidated operations so that, rather than segregating different computer equipment, the businesses wish to store all their equipment and accessories together, regardless of the task being performed or the vendor from which the device was purchased. This poses a problem, since a computer cabinet specifically designed to allow mounting and storage of equipment and accessories from one vendor will often not work with equipment from other vendors, even if all of the equipment conforms to a standard, such as the EIA-310-D specification.
A related problem is that accessories often use valuable space, or rack units (RUs), within a computer cabinet. A rack unit is equivalent to 1.75″, or three mounting holes. Computer cabinets are measured in available rack unit space along its vertical members, and computer equipment is measured in the amount of rack unit space needed within the computer cabinet for storage. But in typical set-ups, accessories consume rack space needed for the equipment. Furthermore, it is difficult to maneuver tools inside the computer cabinet for attaching the accessories when the computer cabinet is tightly packed.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Accordingly, it is desirable to provide a flexible computer equipment cabinet that allows mounting of various accessories from various vendors for storage without depriving storage space needed for computer equipment. Furthermore, it is desirable that the computer equipment cabinet store various computer equipment from various vendors, and that accessories can be easily attached.
The present invention provides an enclosure that stores accessories for computer-related devices in zero unit space. In one embodiment, the enclosure comprises a frame with vertical members coupled with horizontal members and/or frame tracks. The frame supports computer-related devices, such as server blades, in rack unit space. The frame tracks are adapted to attach accessories, such as a power source, a cooling device, or a wire guide, in zero rack unit space. Rack unit space is a dimension of the enclosure that describes how much space is available for the computer-related devices. Zero rack unit space, by contrast, is storage space contained within the enclosure that does not consume rack unit space. One embodiment of the frame tracks comprise the horizontal members of the frame.
One embodiment of zero rack unit space comprises a width approximately equal to, for example, a width of a vertical member, a width of cooling space, etc. Another embodiment of zero rack unit space comprises a depth approximately equal to, for example, a length of a horizontal member, or a depth of the enclosure. In another embodiment, the dimensions of the frame and the frame tracks are specified by the EIA-310-D standard. For example, spacing between holes on the frame tracks and the frame, the width between vertical members of the frame, and other dimensions can conform to the standard.
In another embodiment, the frame tracks are adapted to connect standardized accessories, and the frame is adapted to connect standardized computer-related devices. In still another embodiment, the frame tracks and the frame are adapted to connect non-standardized accessories and computer-related devices from various vendors using non-standardized specifications.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In yet another embodiment, the accessories and computer-related devices are mounted to the frame and the frame tracks using tool-less adapters. The adapters comprise a fastener and a release member. The fastener easily connects to computer-related devices and the frame or frame tracks without the need for a screwdriver, wrench or other tool. The release member easily disconnects the computer-related devices from the adapter and/or frame or frame tracks.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the front, top, and right side of the enclosure according to a first embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the front, top, and right side of the enclosure according to a second embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 3 is a bottom view that illustrates dimensions of zero rack unit space according to one embodiment of the present invention.
FIGS. 4A-B illustrate the power source with tool-less adapters according to one embodiment of the present invention.
FIGS. 5A-B illustrate the power source connected to the horizontal member with a tool-less adapter according to one embodiment of the present invention.
FIGS. 6A-B are close-up perspective views of the tool-less adapter according to one embodiment of the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 7 is a flow chart illustrating a method for utilizing zero rack unit space in the enclosure according to one embodiment of the present invention.
The present invention provides an enclosure that stores accessories for computer-related devices in zero unit space. As used herein, the term “enclosure,” “computer enclosure,” “cabinet,” “computer cabinet,” and “storage cabinet” can include any type of enclosure used for storing computer-related devices and accessories. In one embodiment, the enclosure conforms to the EIA-310-D standard for computer cabinets. In another embodiment, the enclosure conforms to other standards and/or requirements set by various computer device and equipment vendors.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the front, top, and right side of the enclosure 100 according to a first embodiment of the present invention. The enclosure 100 comprises a frame (collectively 110 a-d, 120 a-f) having vertical members 110 a-d and horizontal members 120 a-f, power sources 130 a-c, computer-related devices 140 a-f, and panels 152, 154, 156. One of ordinary skill in the art will recognize variations of the enclosure, such as more or less horizontal and/or vertical members, alternate accessories, and different dimensions, are within the scope of the present invention.
The frame supports computer-related devices 140 a-f of varying shapes and sizes from different vendors. Computer-related devices 140 a-f include, for example, server blades, routing equipment, storage devices, computers, and any other computing device. The computer-related devices 140 a-f are mounted in the enclosure 100 by attachment to the left and right vertical members 110 a-b, as well as to left and right rear vertical members 100 c-d. Under the EIA-310-D standard, there are multiple rack units along each vertical member 110 a-b. Each rack unit has three mounting holes. The distances center-to-center of the holes within a rack unit are approximately 0.625 inches. The distance center-to-center between the last hole of one rack unit and the first hole of another rack unit is approximately 0.50 inches. This means that each rack unit 308 extends approximately 1.75 inches along the rails. However the standard does not address the size or shape of the mounting holes. The vertical members 110 a-b can have round or square mounting holes that allow computer-related devices 140 a-f to be directly connected, or connected via an adapter.
In one embodiment, the vertical members 110 a-d are slideably connected to tracks within the enclosure 100 for adapting to computer-related devices 140 a-f of different sizes, shapes, and requirements. In another embodiment, the vertical members 110 a-d are approximately 42 rack units high and support up to 1,470 pounds. Note that although the frame of FIG. 1 is shown as a three dimensional rectangle shape in an upright position, that the frame can be configured in other shapes and positions (e.g., tilted or otherwise rotated) and a support structure that is not generally horizontal and vertical. The frame is described in greater detail below with reference to FIG. 3.
The horizontal members 120 a-f (or frame tracks) are adapted to attach accessories such as the power strips 130 a-c in zero unit space. Accessories include not only the power strips 130 a-c, but cooling devices, wire guides, and any other device to support the use of the computer-related devices 140. Accessory attachments can take a variety of forms. For example, power source 130 c is attached parallel to horizontal member 120 b at two locations. In another example, power sources 130 a-b are attached perpendicular to one location of two tracks 120 b-c. Direct and indirect connections to the horizontal members 120 a-f are described in greater detail with reference to FIGS. 4 and 5. The horizontal members 120 a-f comprise, for example, circular or square holes to attach accessories either directly or via adapters. Because the horizontal members 120 a-f are located in the zero unit space, attached accessories do not consume rack unit space. In one embodiment, the horizontal members 120 a-f provide further support to the computer-related devices 140 a-f (e.g., rotational support).
In one embodiment, the power sources 130 a-c are connected to the horizontal members 120 a-c using tool-less adapters. Tool-less adapters allow accessories and computer-related equipment 140 a-b to be snapped on and off of the frame without tools such as a screwdriver or wrench. Storage is more efficient since the space needed in the prior art to maneuver tools during installation is no longer necessary. In particular, power sources 130 a-b are blocked by the computer-related devices 140 a-f on the inside, making it difficult for installation using tools. Furthermore, power sources 130 a-b are close together, so there is not much space for maneuvering a tool between them. The horizontal members 120 a-f and attachments thereto are described in further detail below.
The door panel 152, top panel 154, and back panel 156 are each attached to the frame. Side panels and a bottom panel may also be included (not shown). In a preferred embodiment, the panels 152, 154, 156 are coupled to joints or axis of the frame and enclose its planar surfaces. Note, however, that while all sides may include panels 152, 154, 156 one or more sides may be open to the environment. A handle 158 can be connected to the door panel 152.
In one embodiment, the enclosure 100 conforms to the EIA-310-D standard and/or requirements set by various computer equipment vendors (e.g., spacing requirements for cooling). In one embodiment, the vendors include International Business Machines Corporation of Armonk, N.Y., Dell Computer Corporation of Austin, Tex., Sun Microsystems, Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., Compaq and Hewlett-Packard, both owned by Hewlett-Packard, Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif., and Cisco Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif. Note that the enclosure 100 can conform to another standard, or not conform to any particular standard, but simply include features providing extra flexibility so that many different computer devices from different vendors may be stored in the cabinet.
In one embodiment, the enclosure 100 has exterior dimensions of a width of approximately 24 inches and a depth of approximately 46.6 inches. Typically, the enclosures 100 are placed in data centers, which have square floor tiles 24 inches on a side. In such a data center, the enclosure 100 fits on two floor tiles, which eases acquisition of data center space and allows for easy connection of wires from below the data center floor to the enclosure 100. Since the enclosure 100 can be placed on a space one square wide, adjacent squares may be lifted to access wiring beneath the floor square. This embodiment has an interior depth within the enclosure 100 and available for use by computer-related devices 140 of approximately 44 inches, which allows mounting and storage of many brands of computer devices within the cabinet 100, including IBM, Dell, Sun, Hewlett Packard, Compaq, and Cisco Systems.
In another embodiment, the enclosure 100 has an interior depth of approximately 34 inches. The exterior depth of this embodiment is approximately 36 inches, which allows the enclosure 100 to fit in a space in a data center that is one and a half floor tiles deep. Other exterior depths and widths and interior depths and widths may also be chosen, depending on what size computer-related devices 140 a-f are to be stored within the cabinet. One way to determine the interior depth and width desired is to determine the largest interior depth required by the computer devices to be stored in the enclosure 100 and ensure that the interior depth is at least that large. In one embodiment, the interior depth of the enclosure 100 is at least 36 inches, which is deep enough for the computer-related device 140 (28 inches) and cooling requirement (at least 8 inches of free space behind the computer device and in front of the rear door) of an IBM computer-related device 140.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the front, top, and right side of the enclosure 200 according to a second embodiment of the present invention. In the embodiment of FIG. 2, there are no computer-related devices 140 a-f, making horizontal members 120 j-k visible. In addition to the vertical members 110 a-d are shown without obstruction.
FIG. 3 is a bottom view that illustrates dimensions of zero rack unit space according to one embodiment of the present invention. This perspective of the enclosure 100 shows horizontal members 120 d,i, front panel 152, a width of zero unit space 310 and a depth of zero unit space 320. The width of zero unit space 310 is approximately, for example, a width of the vertical members 100 a-d, a width required by equipment vendors for cooling space (e.g., 8 inches), a width of the enclosure 100 minus a width 330 of rack unit space, etc. The depth of zero unit space 320 is approximately, for example, a distance between a front vertical member and a back vertical member (e.g., 110 b to 110 c) and back vertical members 110 c-d, a depth of the enclosure 100, etc. A height of zero unit space (not shown) is approximately, for example, a distance between horizontal members 160, a height of the enclosure, etc. In one embodiment, dimensions of zero unit space add no additional dimensions to the enclosure 100.
In one embodiment, the distance between the inside edges of the left and right front vertical members 110 a-b is approximately 17.81 inches so that devices conforming to the EIA-310-D standard will fit correctly when attaching them to the vertical members 110 a-d. In other embodiments, the distances between the vertical members 110 a-d can be different to comply with a different standard or with various non-standard computer devices.
In another embodiment, the depth distance of 29.13 inches is chosen because it is compatible with the requirements of the EIA-310-D standard as well as the requirements of a wide range of computer-related devices 140 from several different vendors. In one embodiment, this distance of 29.13 inches is chosen because it is the distance specified for use with one of the multiple computer-related devices 140 with which the enclosure 100 is to be used and falls within an allowable range of distances specified by the rest of the multiple computer-related devices 140 with which the enclosure 100 is to be used.
FIG. 4A illustrates the power source 130 with attached tool-less adapters 410, according to one embodiment of the present invention. While tool-less adapters 410 are preferred for attaching accessories inside the enclosure 100, other attachment mechanisms may be used. In fact, some computer-related devices 140 are capable of direct attachment. Additionally, the power source 130 is merely an example of attachable accessories as described above. The tool-less adapters 410, or bracket apparatus, are attached to the power source 130 at either end. The power source 130 includes mounting holes 402 for attaching the tool-less adapter 410. These mounting holes 402 are shown as somewhat oval-shaped holes in FIG. 4A, however these holes can take any shape. For example, the holes 402 might be round or square, or the holes 402 might include some type of adapter for adjusting the shape and/or size of the holes 402. In addition, there can be any number of mounting holes 402 that arranged in various configurations and located in various positions. In one embodiment, only one tool-less adapters 410 may be needed to mount accessories, and in another embodiment, more than two tool-less adapters 410 will be used to mount components.
FIG. 4B illustrates the power source 130 fully engaged with tool-less adapters 410, according to one embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, the tool-less adapters 410, are attached to the mounting holes 402 in the top and the bottom of the power source 130. The power source 130 is slid in direction 460 to engage the tool-less adapters 410. The guide pins 403, 404 protrude through the mounting holes 402, and the power source 130 is positioned between the upper frame 440 and the release member 470. Anti-rotation tabs 406, 408 hold the release member 470 against the power source 130 to prevent rotation. Pressing the release member 470 allows the power source 130 to be slid from the guide pins 403, 404 in removing the tool-less adapters 410.
FIGS. 5A-B illustrate the power source 130 connected to the horizontal member 120 with a tool-less adapter 410 according to one embodiment of the present invention. In FIG. 5A, the tool-less adapter 410 allows accessories to be easily snapped onto and off of the horizontal member 120 in zero rack unit space. Power source 130 is securely attached to the tool-less adapter 410, which is in turn securely attached to the support mounting holes 502 (shown in FIG. 5B). A right front fastener arm 506 and a left front fastener 507 along with a rear fastener (not shown) are each attached to a different support mounting hole 502. In addition, a tip of a release plunger 504 is attached to a mounting hole 502. The tool-less adapter 410 can be moved against the horizontal member 120 to slide the fasteners 506, 507 and the release plunger 504, into the support mounting holes 502 and snap the fasteners 506, 507 and the release plunger 504 into position. Once the tool-less adapter 410 is secured to the horizontal member 120, the power source 130 can be easily snapped onto and off of the tool-less adapter 410. The tool-less adapter 410 can be detached from the horizontal member 120 by pulling the release plunger 504 away from the horizontal member 120, such that the tip of the release plunger 504 is raised from the support mounting hole 502. The tool-less adapter 410 can then be slid off of the horizontal member 120 by moving against the frame track in a direction opposite that used for attachment. This will unsnap the fastener arms 506, 507 from the support mounting holes 502 to free the tool-less adapter 410.
FIG. 5B illustrates the horizontal member 120 with mounting holes 502. While the EIA-310-D standard specifies the spacing of the mounting holes 502, it does not specify the size or shape of the mounting holes 502. In one embodiment of the present invention, the mounting holes 502 are substantially square. The mounting holes 502 have a width of approximately 0.38 inches, and a height of approximately 0.38 inches. This size is large enough to accept the mounting hardware of computer-related devices 140 from many different vendors, and to accept adapters that make the mounting holes 502 compatible with computer-related devices 140 and accessories that require different sized or shaped mounting holes 502.
FIGS. 6A-B are close-up perspective views of the tool-less adapter 410 according to one embodiment of the present invention. More specifically, FIG. 6A is a front view perspective, while FIG. 6B is a rear view perspective. The tool-less adapter 410 comprises an adapter frame 612 that supports two guide pins, a right guide pin 602 and a left guide pin 603, onto which mounting holes 402 of an accessory can be positioned. Though FIGS. 6A-B illustrate the tool-less adapter 410 with a right guide pin 602 and a left guide pin 603, it can alternatively have just one guide pin, or more than two guide pins to which mounting holes of an accessory can be attached. Also shown in FIGS. 6A-B is a release plunger 504 for releasing the tool-less adapter 410 from the enclosure 100. Two resting ledges, a right resting ledge 616 and a left resting ledge 617, are attached to either side of the adapter frame 612, and these resting ledges support an accessory during attachment to the tool-less adapter 410. A release flap or release member 610 protrudes through a slot in the adapter frame 612 to secure the accessory. In FIG. 6B, two anti-rotation tabs, a right anti-rotation tab 606 and a left anti-rotation tab 608, also secure accessories to the enclosure 100.
FIG. 7 is a flow chart illustrating a method 700 for utilizing zero rack unit space in the enclosure 100 according to one embodiment of the present invention. The frame is configured 710 to support computer-related devices 140 in rack unit space. In one embodiment, the frame and computer-related devices 140 are configured according to the EIA-310-D standard. In another embodiment, the frame is configurable to fit computer-related devices 140 from a variety of vendors, conforming to a variety of standards, requirements and/or sizes.
One or more horizontal members 120 of the frame are configured 720 to attach accessories, such as a power source 130, cooling device, or wire guide, in zero unit rack space. In the embodiment of FIG. 7, the tool-less adapter 410 is attached 730 to the accessory. Then, the accessory with the tool-less adapter 410 is tool-lessly connected 740 to the horizontal member 120 in zero rack unit space. As a result, accessories are conveniently stored within the enclosure 100 without consuming rack unit space used to store computer-related devices 140.
The foregoing description of the embodiments of the invention has been presented for the purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. Persons skilled in the relevant art can appreciate that many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teachings. Persons skilled in the art will recognize various equivalent combinations and substitutions for various components shown in the figures. It is therefore intended that the scope of the invention be limited not by this detailed description, but rather by the claims appended hereto.