2006 USENIX Annual Technical Conference Abstract
Pp. 381386 of the Proceedings
IP Only Server
Muli Ben-Yehuda, Oleg Goldshmidt, Elliot K. Kolodner, Zorik Machulsky, Vadim Makhervaks, Julian Satran, Marc Segal, Leah Shalev, and Ilan Shimony, IBM Haifa Research Laboratory
Present day servers must support a variety of legacy I/O devices and
protocols that are rarely used in the day to day server operation, at
a significant cost in board layout complexity, reliability, power
consumption, heat dissipation, and ease of management. We present a
design of an IP Only Server, which has a single, unified I/O interface: IP
network. All of the server's I/O is emulated and redirected over
IP/Ethernet to a remote management station, except for the hard disks
which are accessed via iSCSI. The emulation is done in hardware,
and is available from power-on to shutdown, including the pre-OS and
post-OS (crash) stages, unlike alternative solutions such as VNC that
can only function when the OS is operational. The server's software
stack -- the BIOS, the OS, and applications -- will run without any
We have developed a prototype IP Only Server, based on a COTS FPGA running our
embedded I/O emulation firmware. The remote station is a commodity PC
running a VNC client for video, keyboard and mouse. Initial
performance evaluations with unmodified BIOS and Windows and Linux
operating systems indicate negligible network overhead and acceptable
user experience. This prototype is the first attempt to create a
diskless and headless x86 server that runs unmodified industry
standard software (BIOS, OS, and applications).
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