The Initial Goal
The Stellar Computer System, designed and produced by Cellularity Limited in the UK, is a concept that was born out of the need to create a computer system that was silent, reliable, easily maintained, and consumed very little power. Once that goal had been achieved it followed that if the equipment had a low-power requirement then it could easily be battery-powered. Once a desktop computer is released from the constraints of the mains electricity supply it becomes a tool that can be used anywhere. This is why we refer to the system as a “Worldwide Computer System”.
The Reliability of Solid State Disks
Because the system has only solid-state disks and is passively cooled (no cooling fans) there are no mechanical components to fail. Mechanical components are less reliable than electronic components, and a faulty electronic component is more likely to announce itself early, and be dealt with accordingly, during the initial test period. A further benefit, particularly in dusty environments like parts of Africa, is that there are no fans to suck in dust and to clog, resulting in a burnt-out processor or graphics chip. Finally, “no moving parts” results in a more rugged piece of equipment; if the computer is dropped there are no fans or hard drive styli to dislodge.
Modularity is Key
A question that could be asked is: doesn’t a laptop with solid-state disks achieve the same result as the Stellar System? Well, no; because of the confined space within a laptop case a fan, or fans, is essential to keep it cool, particularly in hot environments. The Stellar System case, although small, has a large number of ventilation holes, and plenty of air inside to circulate through normal convection. In addition, the key to the Stellar System is modularity.
Every component in the Stellar System is designed to be easily replaced, either as a result of wear or because an upgrade is required. The case is tool-less, with just one thumb-screw holding the lid in place.
The system runs permanently from the battery, which is external, and can easily be replaced with a much larger capacity variant, or a bank of batteries, if required. Clearly, the battery needs conditioning otherwise it will eventually completely discharge, no matter what the capacity. The battery has a plug and socket arrangement to enable the desired conditioning system to be attached. Of course, the battery can be removed (by way of anther plug and socket) and the system run directly from a truck or car battery with the supplied cable and crocodile clips. As the system has a wide voltage input (12VDC to 18VDC) there is no need for any additional electronics.
We supply, as standard, an intelligent battery charger which plugs into the mains electricity supply. This can be left permanently in place; it will not allow the battery to overcharge as it continually samples the charge in the battery. This setup produces an enhanced UPS-type system.
We can also supply a 50W vertical axis wind turbine, or a 50W photovoltaic panel, as an alternative battery conditioning source. Both of these are pluggable so it is an easy operation to switch between conditioning sources. This unique modularity produces a system that can be easily maintained and used anywhere in the world irrespective of available local power sources.