Multifunction AK-Systems IP-Plug mini-server

Project Overview

By order of the Russian company "AK-Systems" we developed the first Russian commercial plug-computer — IP-Plug AK-Systems. It is a multifunction mini-server for solving a wide range of tasks in IP networks, functions as a computer or a server. Operates off 220V supply line, differs in low energy consumption and small sizes (related to battery charger sizes for a mobile phone).

Key characteristics of IP-Plug mini-server

  • Configuration and control of the device via web-interface
  • Built-in USB interfaces, WiFi, Ethernet, and Bluetooth are available.  The device can be used as a network gateway
  • Network protocol support is implemented:
    • DLNA — for video stream screening
    • NAT — for package routing
    • FTP and SMB — for data access arrangement
    • QoS mechanisms — for traffic quality assurance
  • IP-Plug can replace bulkier and pricier devices. The scope of the mini-server can be expanded by software adaptation. The device can be used as:
    • Hardware and software complex for measuring and monitoring through quality parameters of an IP network
    • Small server of a hardware and software complex for access isolation and information protection in Intranet/Extranet-networks at network and transport levels
    • IPTV-accelerator for continuous reproduction of streaming HD video from big media portals (NBC, Fox, YouTube, etc.) and for increase in carrying capacity of streaming video devices

Plug-computer specification

Hardware
Microprocessor 1 GHz Marvell Kirkwood 88F6283,
ARM Compliant
RAM Up to 1024 МБ 16 bit DDR2@800 MHz
Up to  4 Gb NAND Flash
Interfaces
Ethernet 2x Gigabit Ethernet
USB 2xUSB 2.0
Wi-Fi/BT Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n + BT 2.1 EDR (optional)
Software
Operating system Linux Debian 6.0
General characteristics
Supply input voltage: 100–240 В, 50/60 Hz;
power consumption: 15 Вт, 5В@3,0A max
Sizes 118 mm x 76 mm x 43 mm
 

Project results

IP-Plug plug-computer of AK-Systems has been developed ready-to-operate. Promwad experts accomplished the following tasks:

— Hardware platform development
— Software development
— Case design and construction
— Production of prototypes

 

 

 

 

 

 

How It's Made

Customer

AK-Systems, a Russian developer, manufacturer and integrator of high-tech electronic devices.

Objective

Develop a multifunctional network device (IP-Plug mini server) used for operation in SOHO networks and designed to solve a wide range of tasks, such as:

  • Creating a Wi-Fi access point, as well as connecting to an existing WiFi network
  • Creating an Internet access gateway, including the possibility of setting up a priority channel
  • Creating a network printer and / or scanner
  • Creating a backup server
  • Implementing a file server with the possibility of access from both a local and a global network

The device should operate on a 220 V/50 Hz power supply in the 24x7 operation mode. It should be a small-sized low-power device.

Solution

Мини-сервер IP-Plug выполнен на базе процессора Marvell Kirkwood 88F6283 с частотой 1 ГГц. На компактной плате установлены два интерфейса Gigabit Ethernet и два USB 2.0. Опционально устанавливается Wi-Fi/BT-модуль 802.11 b/g/n + BT 2.1 EDR в форм-факторе ½ mini-PCIe. На процессорную плату могут устанавливаться ОЗУ и флеш-память различных объемов, от 512 МБ до 4 ГБ.

The following program components were adapted for the operation of the device:

  • U-Boot loader
  • Linux kernel
  • A Debian 6.0-based root file system

The boot loader performs basic initialization of the system (RAM, ROM, a network interface) and loads the operating system. It is also used for initial flashing and diagnosis of the device and its major components.

The Linux kernel contains drivers for all peripherals included in the mini server and provides program interfaces for applications and services. Support for major network protocols is implemented through Linux.

A FreeNAS-based graphic user interface was adapted to configure and manage the device.

Also, the specialized OpenWRT Service Asterisk distribution was installed on the mini server. This helps use the device as an IP telephony server.

One of the main tasks was studying temperature modes of the AK-Systems IP-Plug mini server. Thermal modeling was performed, taking into account heat consumption and dissipation for all the components. Based on the modeling results, the best option for the arrangement of modules inside the enclosure was selected and a board radiator was designed.

A number of enclosure design options were considered while developing the product’s design. A 3D enclosure model was developed in accordance with the selected design option.

While launching the production of the device, the company’s experts developed assembly design documentation for a number of the product’s versions. In particular, documentation for manufacturing the enclosure allowed for different options of mounting interface connector holes. The experts also created a stand and specialized software for flashing and testing devices during mass production of large batches.

Advantages

  • Use of a fully functional Linux distribution, the possibility of installing a large set of standard packages that help use the device in various applications
  • Modern design
  • Small size: 118 mm (long) x 76 mm (wide) x 43 mm (high)
  • Low power consumption (average consumption in a typical application is less than 5 W, maximum power consumption during the operation of all peripherals is 15 W)
  • Low production cost
Technologies Linux Kernel, Plug-Computer, Debian, OpenWRT
Programming languages C, Linux shell
Development tools gcc, CAD tools
Project management tools Redmine