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Pocket server .
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The smallest web server yet has been built and is now
running a website.
It is one tenth the size of a Palm Pilot and dwarfed by a
typical desktop computer, which is 3,000 times larger.
The matchbox-sized server was built from standard components
by Professor Vaughan Pratt, a computer scientist at Stanford
"It's basically a powerful little computer and we could have
set it up for a number of different uses," he said. "But,
because most people think of servers as mysterious boxes,
located in dark basements, I thought making it into a web
server was particularly dramatic."
The new Stanford web server is one of the first projects
from a new Wearables Laboratory that Professor Pratt has
started to develop computers that can be incorporated in
"Put this computer into your shirt pocket, hook it to a
wireless modem, and you could carry it around with you,"
Professor Pratt says.
The tiny computer's vital statistics are:
• 6.9 x 4.3 x 0.6 cm in size
• AMD 486-SX computer,
• 66 MHz CPU
• 16 MB RAM
• 16 MB flash ROM
• partial version of RedHat 5.2 Linux operating system
• 2 watts from a 5V power supply at 100% CPU usage
Professor Pratt believes the biggest obstacle to a truly
wearable computer is the lack of an easy, compact way of
inputting data. Professor Pratt and doctoral student Greg
Defouw are now working on a special glove that can recognize
a digital sign language, called Thumbcode.
The talking type
Future versions of the matchbox computer should be powerful
enough to run voice recognition software, he says.
The Wearables group is already working on a more powerful
server, combining a credit-card-size Pentium motherboard
with a new 340 MB hard drive from IBM that is a fraction of
an inch thick and less than five centimetres on a side.
The previous world's smallest web server was a custom
computer from Phar Lap Software, more than 10 times the size
of the new one. The Phar Lap server provides up-to-date
local weather data for Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Its purpose is to show how "embedded systems" can connect to
the World Wide Web. Embedded systems are computers fitted in
devices ranging from refrigerators to lifts to medical