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Magneto-optical disk

A type of disk drive that combines magnetic disk technologies with optical technologies, such as those used in CD-ROMs. An MO disk drive is designed so that an inserted disk will be exposed to a magnet on the label side and to the laser beam on the opposite side. Magneto-optical discs are hybrid storage medium. In reading, spots with different directions of magnetization give different polarization in the reflected light of a lowpower laser beam. In writing, every spot on the disk is first heated by a strong laser beam and then cooled under a magnetic field, magnetizing every spot in one direction, to store all 0s. The writing process then reverses the direction of the magnetic field to store 1s where desired. The MO systems include basic principles of both magnetic and optical storage systems: MO systems write magnetically (with thermal assist) and read optically. Presently, there are two standard form-factors used for MO systems: 5.5-inch and 3.5inch, which are protected by hard envelops. The larger form-factor MO disks are capable of holding about as much as the standard CD-ROM. Under pressure from the inexpensive and relatively fast CD-R and CD-RW, MO drives seems to be losing ground. On the other hand, some of the principles of the MO technology (thermally-assisted magnetic recording) may find their way into the most advanced magnetic storage devices of the future. All magnetic materials have a characteristic temperature, called the Curie temperature, above which they lose magnetization due to a complete disordering of their magnetic domains. Therefore, they lose all the data they had stored before. More importantly, the material's coercivity, which is the measure of material's resistance to magnetization by the applied magnetic field, decreases as the temperature approaches the Curie point, and reaches zero when this temperature is exceeded. For the modern magnetic materials used in MO systems, this Curie temperature is on the order of 200oC. It is important (since this is a multiply-erasable system) that the only change to the material when it is heated and cooled is the change in magnetization, with no damage to the material itself. This fact that the material's coercivity drops at higher temperatures allows thermally-assisted magnetic recording with relatively weak magnetic fields, which simplifies the drive's design. Even a relatively weak laser can generate high local temperatures when focused at a small spot (about 1 micron in case of MO systems). When the material is heated, and its coercivity is low, a magnetization of the media can be changed by applying a magnetic field from the magnet. When the material is cooled to room temperature, its coercivity rises back to such a high level that the magnetic data can not be easily affected by the magnetic fields we encounter in our regular daily activity. When the disk is inserted into the drive, the label side will face the magnet, and the transparent side will face the laser. The direction of magnetization in the thin magnetic films (on magnetic rigid disks, for example) can be parallel to the surface (longitudinal recording) or perpendicular to the surface (perpendicular recording). The latter has potential for higher density of magnetic recording. Most of the magnetic hard drives nowadays utilize longitudinal recording, while the MO systems use the perpendicular direction of magnetization.

Unlike traditional magnetic recording systems, which use currents induced in the magnetic heads by the changing magnetic fluxes on the disk surface to read the data, MO systems use polarized light to read the data from the disk. The changes in light polarization occur due to the presence of a magnetic field on the surface of the disk (the Kerr effect) . If a beam of polarized light is shined on the surface, the light polarization of the reflected beam will change slightly (typically less than 0.5o) if it is reflected from a magnetized surface. If the magnetization is reversed, the change in polarization (the Kerr angle) is reversed too. The magnetized areas - pits - can not be seen in regular light, but only in polarized light. The change is direction of magnetization could be associated with numbers 0 or 1, making this technique useful for binary data storage. the materials for MO recording should meet the following major criteria:

Have amorphous structure (smooth surface and domain's boundaries to decrease system's noise) Low thermal conductivity (to limit lateral heating to the recording layer itself) High melting point at about 200o - 300oC (media stability, accidental data loss prevention) Rapid drop of coercivity near the Curie temperature (sharp recording threshold) High coercivity at room temperature (media stability, accidental data loss prevention) Vertical anisotropy (perpendicular magnetic recording) Chemical stability (constant material's properties under repeated heating-cooling)

INTERRUPT VECTOR TABLE

A table of interrupt vectors (pointers to routines that handle interrupts). On PCs, the interrupt vector table consists of 256 4-byte pointers, and resides in the first 1 K of addressable memory. Each interrupt number is reserved for a specific purpose. For example, 16 of the vectors are reserved for the 16 IRQ lines. An interrupt vector table is also called a dispatch table. On the x86 architecture, the Interrupt Vector Table (IVT) is a table that specifies the addresses of all the 256 interrupt handlers used in real mode. The IVT is typically located at 0000:0000H, and is 400H bytes in size (4 bytes for each interrupt). Although the default address can be changed using the LIDT instruction on newer CPUs, this is usually not done because it is both inconvenient and incompatible with other implementations and/or older software (e.g. MS-DOS programs). However, note that the code must remain in the first MiB of RAM. The bottom 1K (1024 bytes) of system memory is devoted to the storage of interrupt vectors. An interrupt vector is a 4-byte value of the form offset: segment, which represents the address of a routine to be called when the CPU receives an interrupt. Some vectors do not point to executable code, but rather to a data structure of some sort. For example, the vector for interrupt 1Eh points to an 11-byte disk base table containing

information on floppy drives. The interrupt vector table is a feature of the Intel 80x86/8088 family of microprocessors

Backplane Systems
Backplane (or "backplane system") is a circuit board (usually a printed circuit board) that connects several connectors in parallel to each other, so that each pin of each connector is linked to the same relative pin of all the other connectors, forming a computer bus. It is used as a backbone to connect several printed circuit boards together to make up a complete computer system. Early personal computers like the Apple II and the IBM PC integrated an internal backplane for expansion cards. While a motherboard may include a backplane the backplane is actually a separate entity. A backplane is generally differentiated from a motherboard by the lack of on-board processing power where the CPU is on a plug-in card. Backplanes are normally used in preference to cables because of their greater reliability. In a cabled system, the cables need to be flexed every time that a card is added to or removed from the system; and this flexing eventually causes mechanical failures. A backplane does not suffer from this problem, so its service life is limited only by the longevity of its connectors. For example, the DIN 41612 connectors used in the VMEbus system can withstand 50 to 500 insertions and removals (called mating cycles), depending on their quality. In addition, there are bus expansion cables which will extend a computer bus to an external backplane, usually located in an enclosure, to provide more or different slots than what the host computer provides. These cable sets have a transmitter board located in the computer, an expansion board in the remote backplane, and a cable between the two.

FAT File System


FAT stands for File Allocation Table, but is also used as a name for the family of file systems that have been used in DOS and Windows 9x and supported by NT and various *NIX. The FAT file system is simple and reliable. It does not lose data because the computer crashed in the middle of an update. It does not use a lot of memory. It does, however, do a lot of extra administrative I/O to different areas of the partition. The directory is allocated at the start of the partition and it contains the table of free space. To write a new dataset, or to add data to an old one, the disk arm must be constantly moved between the location of the directory and the place where the data is being written. Without optimization, a file can end up fragmented into many small pieces.

FAT: File Allocation Table, a data structure present in all FAT volumes FAT1: The first copy of the FAT FAT2: The first copy of the FAT FAT12: FAT file system using 12-bit cluster addressing FAT16: FAT file system using 16-bit cluster addressing FAT32: FAT file system using 32-bit cluster addressing; Win95 SR2 and later FAT or FATxx: File systems that use File Allocation Tables, etc. VFAT: The 32-bit code used to operate the file system in Win9x GUI mode Cluster: Single unit of data storage at the FATxx file system logic level Sector: Single unit of storage at the physical disk level Physical sector address: Sector address in absolute physical hardware terms CHS sector address: As above, expressed in Cylinder, Head, Sector terms Logical sector address: Sector address relative to the FATxx volume Folder: A collection of named items as seen via Windows Explorer File Folder: Modern Windows-speak for "directory" Directory: A file system data structure that lists files and/or directories Directory entry: Points to a file or directory, and contains info about it Attributes: A collection of bits in a directory entry that describes it

The FATxx volume is divided into four areas: The boot record The File Allocation Tables The root directory The data area

The boot record is the first sector of a FAT12 or FAT16 volume, and the first 3 sectors of a FAT32 volume. It defines the volume, as well as the whereabouts of the other three areas. If the volume is bootable, then the first sector of the boot record also contains the code required to enter the file system and boot the OS. The File Allocation Table is a series of addresses that is accessed as a lookup table to see which cluster comes next, when loading a file or traversing a directory. For example, if the system had just loaded cluster 23, it would look up offset 23 in the FAT and the address there would be that of the next cluster; typically 24. Because the FAT is such a vital data structure, there are typically two copies (i.e. FAT1 and FAT2) so that corruption of the FAT can be detected and hopefully intelligently repaired. The root directory is fixed in length and always located at the start of the volume (after the FAT) in FAT12 and FAT16 volumes, but FAT32 treats the root directory as just another cluster chain in the data area. However, even in FAT32 volumes, the root directory will typically follow imediately after the two FATs. The data area fills the rest of the volume, and is divided into clusters; it is here that the file data is stored. Subdirectories are files with a particular structure that is understood by the file system, and are marked as being directories rather than files by setting the "directory" attribute bit in the directory entry that points to it.

The highest-level logical disk structures are the master boot record and partition tables, which define the way the entire disk is sized and organized.

PCMCIA
Short for Personal Computer Memory Card International Association, PCMCIA is an organization consisting of some 500 companies that has developed a standard for small, credit card-sized devices, called PC Cards. Originally designed for adding memory to portable computers, the PCMCIA standard has been expanded several times and is now suitable for many types of devices. There are in fact three types of PCMCIA cards. All three have the same rectangular size (85.6 by 54 millimeters), but different widths Type I cards can be up to 3.3 mm thick, and are used primarily for adding additional ROM or RAM to a computer.

Type II cards can be up to 5.5 mm thick. These cards are often used for modem and fax modem cards. Type III cards can be up to 10.5 mm thick, which is sufficiently large for portable disk drives.

As with the cards, PCMCIA slots also come in three sizes: A Type I slot can hold one Type I card

A Type II slot can hold one Type II card or one Type I card A Type III slot can hold one Type III card or any combination of two Type I or II cards.

In general, you can exchange PC Cards on the fly, without rebooting your computer. For example, you can slip in a fax modem card when you want to send a fax and then, when you're done, replace the fax modem card with a memory card.

Hard Disk Partitioning


User may decide to split a hard disk into multiple partitions in order to organize his data more effectively. On Microsoft Windows machines, it is common to store the OS and applications on one hard disk partition and user data on another hard disk partition. When a problem occurs with Microsoft Windows, the OS partition can be completely formatted and reinstalled without affecting the data partition. A user may decide to split a hard disk into multiple partitions because smaller partitions often have smaller cluster sizes. A cluster size is the smallest chunk of data which a

partition can store. A large partition might have a cluster size of 16KB. This means that a file with one character in it will occupy 16KB of space on the disk. In a smaller partition, that file might only require 4KB to store. This is a useful strategy if you are storing a large number of small files. A user may have to split a large hard disk into multiple partitions if the hard disk is larger than the partition size supported by the operating system. Most operating system use the `fdisk` command to create hard disk partitions. Many operating systems also have graphical tools which accomplish the same task. You don't actually store data in hard disk partitions. You store file systems in hard disk partitions and then you store data in these file systems. Some operating systems blur the lines between partitions and file systems. Partition information is stored in the partition table, a reserved area at the beginning of a hard disk