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Google Patent Reveals New Data Center Innovations

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 3 years ago | from the easy-to-innovate-with-unlimited-resources dept.

Google 82

miller60 writes "'Google is seeking to patent a system that provides precision cooling inside racks of servers, automatically adjusting to temperature changes while reducing the energy required to run chillers.' The cooling design uses an adjustable piping system featuring 'air wands' that provide small amounts of cold air to components within a server tray. The cooling design, which could help Google reduce the power bill for its servers, reinforces Google's focus on data center innovation as a competitive advantage. Check out the patent application and a diagram of the system."

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1st!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30276054)

for the krapture!!!! - krapper

No matter how innovative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30276168)

This is why patents are stupid. An innovative new way to save the planet, and, guess what, YOU CAN'T HAVE IT.

Re:No matter how innovative (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276212)

Right, let me do all the work while you reap the benefits and I continue to eat moldy bread.

Re:No matter how innovative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30276492)

Right, let me do all the work while you reap the benefits and I continue to eat moldy bread.

There are plenty of government grants, not to mention private ones, available to compensate people who put time/thought into innovations like this. There's no reason that it needs to be a patented, profitable product for it to be worth anyone's effort to create.

Re:No matter how innovative (1)

uglydog (944971) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276916)

But then you are limiting the amount of money that anyone could potentially make; it's limited to the amount of grant money available. And you are also restricting the ideas that get developed to the ones that the person holding the purse strings thinks are worthy.
There's no reason both models can't co-exist, but neither is a replacement for the other

Re:No matter how innovative (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#30277424)

Bollocks.

Data center innovation should benefit whoever innovates. If Google are 5 years ahead of any other DC operator in terms of cost savings, that should be incentive enough. Preventing any other company from also saving power by patenting things like ducts+servomotors is not only counter to the interests of society in general, but counter to the market's health.

First mover advantage should be enough. If you need more than that then you're not really innovating. Patents just allow companies to innovate *once* and then sit around on their asses forever. No patents means a company has to keep innovating to get in front and then stay there.

Re:No matter how innovative (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30277846)

Google does release many of these inventions to the public for free.

For instance, Google released their designs for their own special power supplies. Apparently they run DC data-centers and reap massive energy savings.

Re:No matter how innovative (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#30278230)

Google only releases those designs that don't allow a competitor to interfere with its business. Before any result of its R&D is released, there's a decision making process that occurs, where they ensure that the item in question does not confer any significant increase in capability to its competitors. Typically, they just open source those things that their competitors already have proprietary versions of (such as MapReduce and BigTable) so that they don't bring about any change in the competitive landscape, but they get the PR of open sourcing something. It's a pure marketing stunt, not an attempt to bring about some egalitarian utopia.

Repeat after me: Google is a for-profit company. like any other.

Re:No matter how innovative (3, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30278268)

Google is a for-profit company that does a lot of work for open standards, FOSS, and charities that they don't have to.

You insist they must do it for PR, yet their PR campaign has been so successful with you. They don't even go out of their way to toot their own horn, to the extent that most people have never heard of the things that Google offers up freely.

Google is not a company like any other.

Re:No matter how innovative (3, Insightful)

General Wesc (59919) | more than 4 years ago | (#30278278)

It's a pure marketing stunt, not an attempt to bring about some egalitarian utopia.

Repeat after me: Google is a for-profit company. like any other.

Repeat after me: for-profit companies are run by people, not an infallible profit-maximizing robot.

Re:No matter how innovative (1)

uglydog (944971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30278084)

But then what incentive is there for a company to get into the business in the first place? I'm thinking of private space flights. That kind of research takes an enormous amount of money and risk to life. I don't think it's fair to say that another company can just come in and duplicate the mechanism afterward.

Of course, if there are no patents, then other people wouldn't know the details of how you did what you did. We are way past the age of simple machines, where you could take apart a typewriter and duplicate it. So if there are no patents and the innovator doesn't have to share details, then sure, first mover advantage should be OK. In this case, no one else would have known why Google's energy bills were so much lower.

Re:No matter how innovative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30278188)

You say "duplicate the mechanism" like space flight is easy.

If Virgin Galactic starts sending up private space tours, it's not like some competitor can just start up and copy them. The capital investment is enormous, and getting engineers up to speed on a project of that size takes years. In that case, capital investment and training are the barriers to entry.

In the case of Google's absurdly simple "innovation" here, why should they be able to stop other DC operators from using air nozzles and servomotors? It's so trivially simple an idea that it boggles the mind that it even qualifies as being called an innovation.

If there are no capital and training barriers to entry, then the idea doesn't deserve protection. If there are capital and training barriers to entry, then the company is protected proportionally to how long those barriers take to overcome.

That's how the market *should* operate, there is no need for patents on physical devices. If an idea is so simple that it can be copied in a few minutes, then the R&D cost of coming up with it can't have been that big.

Note that pharmaceuticals are excluded from this argument. There are arguments for pharma patents, and I think that the 6 year patent life in that field is appropriate.

Re:No matter how innovative (1)

uglydog (944971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30292188)

OK, fine. Take pharma as the example. So you agree: patents are needed in some situations.

As for space flight, I'm not saying it's easy, but it's easier to answer a question once you've seen the answer. Either way, considering how you feel about pharma patents, wouldn't you agree that if a space company developed a new fuel or insulating material, then they should be able to have some sort of patent on it?

Re:No matter how innovative (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276350)

YOU CAN'T HAVE IT....

Until after the patent expires.

Re:No matter how innovative (1)

makapuf (412290) | more than 4 years ago | (#30284262)

or you license it, now. I think the real question is when does those patent expires, 20 years for GIFs were ... a tad long indeed

Re:No matter how innovative (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#30284600)

That's a good point about the licensing. On one hand America is hemorraging jobs overseas. On the other, you have people here on /. whining about Americans wanting to make money on their inventions. It seems to me like either we protect our intellectual property, or we slip further and further behind.

Re:No matter how innovative (2, Insightful)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276368)

Don't be silly, this is precisely how patents were originally meant to be used; to allow the inventor of a truly innovative technology to get some reward for their effort, so if you want to use the technology then you need to license it from the inventor, that's all. . And, yes, it *is* innovative or someone else would have already come up with the idea and patented it, the green data centre market isn't exactly short or a little competition at the moment with so many organisations competing for bragging rights over the lowest PUE ratings.

Look on the bright side, since this is Google with their mantra of "Do no evil" that we're talking about, they can hardly charge an extortionate amount for the license fee given what it might entail for the environment if they want to carry on being able to claim that with any degree of sincerity. Regardless of what they charge, you can almost guarantee it would be a lot less than what some vendors *cough* Sun *cough* have historically charged for their more bespoke cabinets.

Re:No matter how innovative (1)

GlassHeart (579618) | more than 3 years ago | (#30277224)

yes, it *is* innovative or someone else would have already come up with the idea and patented it

Nonsense. You don't get a patent just for being the first person to encounter and solve a problem. Your solution has to be non-obvious to somebody else who is skilled in the art.

Re:No matter how innovative (1)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 4 years ago | (#30277484)

Well, yes... that would be why I used the word "innovative" instead of "obvious".

As I pointed out, producing energy efficient data centers has become quite a competetive market sector of late, with several quite distinct approaches to the problem, so it's an area that is not exactly lacking for a little R&D either. If the solution was obvious (without the benefit of hindsight) to someone else skilled in the art then that someone else would have done it already and even the USPTO would have rejected the patent application. OK, maybe not the latter, but I think it qualifies as "non-obvious", at least without the benefit of hindsight.

Re:No matter how innovative (1)

GlassHeart (579618) | more than 4 years ago | (#30307158)

Even in the most highly competitive marketplace, somebody will always invent something first. However, we don't want to grant patents just for being novel or new, and instead also require that the invention is truly innovative or non-obvious.

Obviously, anybody who invents something first did something "innovative". However, when discussing whether the invention should be protected by a patent monopoly, there's a higher bar for that word than just being the first. Put another way, you're saying that being first in a competitive market is by definition innovative enough for patent protection, which would be a Bad Idea.

Re:No matter how innovative (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#30277226)

We don't even know if they're going to charge for it, maybe they just want to cover they asses from patent trolls. I know I would.

Re:No matter how innovative (2, Insightful)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 3 years ago | (#30277136)

Patents are not stupid. Patents are great. Obvious patents given for large amounts of time are stupid.

Re:No matter how innovative (1)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 4 years ago | (#30278696)

Patents are not stupid. They are there for anyone to use. If you have great ideas for an invention, why not patent them? Believe it or not, the nuclear power aircraft patent belongs to Dick Feynman. Yeah but you do gotta love paperwork. Invent a better way to submit patent submission and patent that! We'll share the billions.

Re:No matter how innovative (1)

konohitowa (220547) | more than 4 years ago | (#30284568)

What? This patent keeps the planet from from being destroyed? I need to read those claims more carefully. Did I miss a big deflector shield or something? Although, if SciFi/SyFy Channel Original Movies have taught me anything, it's that the majority of planetary threats can be averted by nukes, and I know I didn't see any references to nukes in there.

Oh.... you meant an innovative way to save energy and possibly the humans, or at least their current way of life. Never mind. That's a shame though. I was starting to envision a franchise of "Armagoogleddon", "Mothra vs Google", etc. movies. Sigh.

Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (0, Troll)

MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276286)

Hmmm... Is creating patents for things like this "evil"? Seeking to prevent others from saving energy (unless they pay a toll) is not good for this planet, and I'm not sure if passes for "good".

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276452)

Hmmm... Is creating patents for things like this "evil"? Seeking to prevent others from saving energy (unless they pay a toll) is not good for this planet, and I'm not sure if passes for "good".

Just pretend they never had the idea at all and nothing has changed. There, feel better?

I know it's popular to bash Google around these parts, but you're really reaching.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276592)

Well, I'm not really bashing. I'm just asking. I actually like Google. But to simply patent the idea of point cooling seems to be stretching it a bit.

If IBM did this, we'd all understand - they are in the hardware business. But for Google to go to the trouble to patent it, seems odd. I'm trying to understand their motivation, and if it is simply to force Yahoo and others to spend more money for power, then I'm not sure it passes the smell test.

Think of how much power data centers all over the world use, and you understand the ramifications.

And I only ask, because Google has their "do no evil" policy.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

JStegmaier (1051176) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276828)

IT'S "DON'T BE EVIL" NOT "DO NO EVIL" FOR FUCK'S SAKE.

Also, they're not stopping anyone from using it. What they're doing by patenting, which just means that those that want to use it can pay a licensing fee, or wait until the patent runs out.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (4, Insightful)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 4 years ago | (#30277392)

Also, they're not stopping anyone from using it

That's pretty much the only thing you can do with a patent, stop someone else from using it. (Licensing is just an agreement not to exercise that power.)

I see several explanations for Google applying for a patent:

  • They want licensing revenue (unlikely)
  • They want to patent the technique before someone else does (possible, but they could have simply published the technique)
  • They want an arsenal of patents they never intend to enforce, but they can use as a threat against companies whose patents Google is infringing (more likely - this is pretty much standard practice in the corporate world these days)
  • They patented the technique out of pure bureaucratic inertia - it's just what corporations typically do in this situation, as it's the least-risk choice (also likely)

I wouldn't consider any of these particularly evil, but it is inconvenient for smaller organizations who might want to use the technique, but don't want to go through the hassle of negotiating with Google (who might just ignore their request for licensing).

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (2, Insightful)

S-100 (1295224) | more than 4 years ago | (#30278656)

Left one out: They want an arsenal of patents to make their cross-licensing portfolio more valuable.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

sockonafish (228678) | more than 4 years ago | (#30285116)

That's pretty much the only thing you can do with a patent, stop someone else from using it. (Licensing is just an agreement not to exercise that power.)

You can also stop someone else from patenting your idea and stopping you from using it.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (2, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276844)

If IBM did this, we'd all understand - they are in the hardware business. But for Google to go to the trouble to patent it, seems odd. I'm trying to understand their motivation, and if it is simply to force Yahoo and others to spend more money for power, then I'm not sure it passes the smell test.

IBM is not primarily in the hardware business... you know that, right? Services are the biggest revenue generator at IBM.

As for Google, what kind of company do you think they are? What's their main gig? Data. Acquiring data. Data analysis. Data storage. Serving data. Using data analysis to maximize the value of their adspace.

Considering that so much of their business revolves around data processing, wouldn't you think that a method that reduces one of their largest costs (datacenter operation) is key to their business? If anything, datacenter technology is at the forefront of what Google does.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 3 years ago | (#30277166)

Considering that so much of their business revolves around data processing, wouldn't you think that a method that reduces one of their largest costs (datacenter operation) is key to their business? If anything, datacenter technology is at the forefront of what Google does.

I think it's strategic protection. Patents work two ways - it's not just protecting against copyists, it's protecting yourself from others as well. If others see an innovation you are using, they could turn around and patent it themselves, then stifle your use of the innovation.

Since Google specify their own server layouts, I can imagine this patent is key to them not having someone else lock them out of a way to make their data centres work efficiently.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

SleepingWaterBear (1152169) | more than 4 years ago | (#30277502)

I think it's strategic protection. Patents work two ways - it's not just protecting against copyists, it's protecting yourself from others as well. If others see an innovation you are using, they could turn around and patent it themselves, then stifle your use of the innovation.

Actually, if you're using an innovation already that would constitute prior art and would prevent someone else from getting the patent, or at the least would serve as an effective defence against a patent infringement claim. Which isn't to say that patents can't be used defensively - having a patent could help defend against an infringement claim on a very similar patent. Also, having the relevant patent might let you avoid suit altogether, and avoiding a lawsuit is generally better than winning a suit.

In any case though, if you're doing something already, and can document it, someone who comes up with the same idea later isn't going to be able to stop you. If Google's interests were purely defensive, it could just as easily protect itself by widely disseminating the details of its cooling system to thoroughly establish their prior art.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 3 years ago | (#30277142)

If IBM did this, we'd all understand - they are in the hardware business.

And Google isn't in the data center business? Besides, the idea of point cooling may be obvious, but what they patented is the system of 'air wands' (whatever those are) to accomplish it.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

Glendale2x (210533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30277606)

It looks like a tube with holes punched in one side like those used for duct smoke detector air sampling.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (2, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30277642)

Besides, the idea of point cooling may be obvious, but what they patented is the system of 'air wands' (whatever those are) to accomplish it.

You mean like the rubber hose I used in a system five years ago to force incoming cool air to pass directly over the CPU first and then get sucked out of the box by negative pressure? Wow, didn't know that was patentable. It seemed so ... obvious.

ROFLCOPTER (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30278684)

"Negative pressure" is unscientific. How can nothing accomplish something?

You are obviously a product of the USian education system.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279222)

You mean like the rubber hose I used in a system five years ago to force incoming cool air to pass directly over the CPU

Is that what the patent is for or are you just speculating?

That is a bunk argument. (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30277396)

Just pretend they never had the idea at all and nothing has changed.

Bullshit. That is assuming that no-one else would have had this idea if Google didn't. Considering that practically every major invention has been developed independently by several people, that is a ridiculous position to take.

Patents can absolutely create a situation that is worse off than if the "inventor" had never thought of the idea. Whether Google is "Evil" or not depends on how they choose to use the patent.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 4 years ago | (#30278492)

Hmmm... Is creating patents for things like this "evil"? Seeking to prevent others from saving energy (unless they pay a toll) is not good for this planet, and I'm not sure if passes for "good".

Just pretend they never had the idea at all and nothing has changed. There, feel better?

Worse, the poster misunderstood the nature of patents. Patents don't prevent anything. They only give you the legal right to a claim against someone else.

If I get a patent for my invention (say, an egg-cracking lawnmower) in so doing, I'm not preventing anybody else from making an egg-cracking lawnmower. However, if somebody else starts making egg-cracking lawnmowers, then my patent gives me a supportable right to sue the other company. I don't have to do anything, and if I don't, it's no different than not having a patent at all.

Today, patents are commonly "defensive" in nature, especially by big corporations. Meaning, I as a megacorp might get the patent with no intent to use it at all, unless I get sued by a competitor for patent infringement. Since the competitor is trying to do the same thing I'm doing, they are likely violating one of my numerous "defensive" patents, at which point I counter sue, and pay lawyers to do lunch for a while until a cross-licensing deal is reached. (They give me rights to use their patented idea, and in return, I give them rights to my patented idea)

Yes, it really is that bad - and why we really, REALLY need patent reform.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276518)

The patent doesnt stop some other company from building and using a device exactly like this internally for thier own use. It only stops them from taking the idea and selling a product based on it.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (2, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276714)

The patent doesnt stop some other company from building and using a device exactly like this internally for thier own use. It only stops them from taking the idea and selling a product based on it.

Yes, it does. There is no such thing as "fair use" in patent law. The owner of a patent has the right to exclude others from making, using, importing, selling, or offering to sell the invention. Those first two stop another company from building and using a device exactly like this internally.

And yes, I am a patent agent.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276774)

Hmm, seems you are right...

our patent system is really screwed up, isnt it?

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (2, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276938)

Hmm, seems you are right...

our patent system is really screwed up, isnt it?

Why? Wouldn't it be more screwed up to say "gosh, Mr. inventor, I don't have to pay you for a license, because I'm going to use your invention for my own use"? It would prevent them from selling it - so consumer goods for sale would be subject to patents, but manufacturing machines and assembly line innovations that companies install and then use for 20 years would essentially be up for grabs, license-free. No one would ever invent anything for 'behind the scenes' use unless they're employed by a big company for that purpose... and the big company would never, ever file a patent on it, because any other big company could just make it and not pay them a license fee.

Essentially what you're proposing is a return to trade secrets. Invent something and don't tell anyone about it. The downside of trade secrets is that they exist for as long as the invention is secret - potentially hundreds of years, such as the formula for Coca-cola. This is as opposed to patents, which are 20 years and then public domain forever. Trade secrets were the primary tool for protecting IP for several hundred years, and as a result, they stifled innovation - every company had to waste time and re-invent the wheel that a company across town invented and kept secret. The mandatory public disclosure scheme of patents solves this problem - the public can't use your invention without licensing it for 20 years, so innovation is stifled... but it's free after that, and in the meantime, the public can freely create improvements on your idea - so innovation is actually encouraged.

For example, if I patent a stool, and you improve it by adding a back, you've just innovated. And if someone else improves yours by adding arms, they just innovated. And because you and I both published, they can leapfrog on our innovations. This is how the patent system is supposed to work.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 3 years ago | (#30277078)

For example, if I patent a stool, and you improve it by adding a back, you've just innovated. And if someone else improves yours by adding arms, they just innovated. And because you and I both published, they can leapfrog on our innovations. This is how the patent system is supposed to work.

As a person who is handy carving things out of wood who might happen to one day create a sitting device for my own person use that is identical to your stool, would I be expected to have to pay you, even if i had never seen your stool?

I don't see how, as an individual, I would not be allowed to make for my own use anything i am physically capable of making with my own materials and tools.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 3 years ago | (#30277108)

wow, i really messed up my reply there.
I'm honestly interested in how this whole process would work.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (3, Insightful)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#30277132)

As a person who is handy carving things out of wood who might happen to one day create a sitting device for my own person use that is identical to your stool, would I be expected to have to pay you, even if i had never seen your stool?

I don't see how, as an individual, I would not be allowed to make for my own use anything i am physically capable of making with my own materials and tools.

Because this is a civilization rather than a libertarian anarchy? Why should you be able to enjoy the fruits of my labor and sweat of my inventive brow without paying me a reasonable license fee?

As for "never seen my stool", there is such a thing as innocent infringement... For one, you can't be liable for indirect infringement without intention to infringe. For two, damages tend to be lower: if you're truly innocent, I'd get the cost of one stool out of you.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 4 years ago | (#30277330)

Why should you be able to enjoy the fruits of my labor and sweat of my inventive brow without paying me a reasonable license fee?

Why would you expect to get anything from me when we never met, I never saw your invention, I used my own materials, my own "labor and sweat", to create something for my own person use? I could understand if I tried to then sell my stool to others, but barring personal use just blows my mind.

I'd get the cost of one stool out of you.

I'd at least hope to have the cost of the physical materials I used taken in to account.

If your stool were made of solid gold and cost $100000, and i made mine out of wood that cost me $5, i would expect that I not have to pay $100000.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30278710)

I could understand if I tried to then sell my stool to others

I won't be buying your poop, nor that of anyone else!

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

hannson (1369413) | more than 4 years ago | (#30278248)

I think he's going for the "two independent inventors" argument. Similar to how Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was originally accused of plagiarizing Isaac Newton's unpublished work, but is now regarded as an independent inventor of and contributor to calculus, but with patentable inventions.

problems with the patent system (1)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 4 years ago | (#30278698)

Why? Wouldn't it be more screwed up to say "gosh, Mr. inventor, I don't have to pay you for a license, because I'm going to use your invention for my own use"

I think the patent system is screwed up, but not based on anything in your description. Namely, the patent process strongly favors those with deep pockets, programmers waste a lot of time just trying to figure out what is and is not patented, a small company (and even some large ones) can be sued out of existence just for infringing a patent they never knew existed, and the twenty year duration is a veritable eternity in the software industry. (Granted, this discussion is about a hardware device, but a lot of the animosity against patents in general comes from frustration with software patents.*)

We are, however, very fortunate that patent duration has not followed the same trend as copyright, else we would still be paying licensing fees for inventions from the nineteenth century.

* I once took a poll of users on a site with a fair number of highly technical users, asking if anyone had written a useful (in their estimation) program that they did not release because of patent concerns. I was surprised by how many said yes. (The results were 7 yes versus 11 no: not a large enough sample size to extrapolate a trend, but interesting.)

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276812)

apparently I was wrong about this. I will now commit rutual seppuku to prevent the savage flaming i am no doubt abount to receive.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (2, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276932)

I will now commit rutual seppuku to prevent the savage flaming i am no doubt abount to receive.

Death is no escape from a savage flaming on slashdot. It just means we will be crisping your corpse and be denied the joys of imagining the sounds of your lamentations and woe. On second thought, we could just *pretend* you didn't commit seppuku, and still have those joys. So really, your effort goes wasted -- please put the wakizashi down and resume whatever it was you were doing.

On the other hand, maybe you *weren't* going to really commit suppuku, and were just pretending to, to throw the flamers off your trail. If so, nice move. You have confounded the Slashdot Flamemasters. I salute you.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

ArbitraryDescriptor (1257752) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276586)

Hmmm... Is creating patents for things like this "evil"? Seeking to prevent others from saving energy (unless they pay a toll) is not good for this planet, and I'm not sure if passes for "good".

A patent merely grants you control over the invention's licensing, it is possible to wield a patent in an open manner; or not. We'll have to see how they play it.

However, unlike some of the more obvious software patents floating around; this sounds like a genuinely clever idea. If they choose to sit on it to stay ahead of their competition; I don't know that it's fair to say they're "preventing" anyone from saving energy. It's not like anyone would have used this method had they not invented it; and they are somehow depriving the public of it. I would file it under "indifferent," not sharing isn't nice, but it's a far cry from evil.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

DieselPup (1657569) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276602)

Sure, if a company PAYS people to think of things like this, that's called an INVESTMENT in R&D (which is by nature, speculative and risky -- most of the time, a LOSING venture). So when the company's R&D comes up with one idea that is commercially viable, why shouldn't they get some return on the money they put at risk? Oh, and if they're not allowed to get any return to offset their investment (in losers as well as winners), what happens to the R&D cash flow? Unless you're a noncommercial government-funded program, it generally dries up.

Why? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276630)

This is EXACTLY what patents were developed for. A mechanical system like this has a FAIRLY LIMITED LIFETIME (unlike copyrights).

As it is, I think that the approach that they are taking is actually the wrong way. OTH, It is better than what is currently done. Others like MS could license it. More likely MS will introduce a similar patent and it will go through due to how stupid the US patent office has become.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30276684)

Google probably won't even use it, or enforce it. (just as you mentioned, it seems like a pretty backwards idea, even for Google)

I'd certainly love to think of Google as making patents for the sake of others so trolls don't abuse them, but we can never really know what goes on behind those golden doors to their internet inside a building.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (2, Interesting)

ascari (1400977) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276726)

I think it does pass the "evil" test with flying colors. In x years it becomes free for anyone to use, and besides who is to say that Google won't license this stuff for cheap (or free) down the road? It's not like they're charging an arm + leg for any of their other technologies as it is, and they're certainly not among the worst offenders when it comes to "patent trolling". I think it's a good faith green move on their part, and they're being sensible patenting it before somebody (possibly less scrupulous) does.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276958)

If they don't patent it, someone else will. If they allow everbody to use the patent, then it is still not evil, even if they charge a nominal fee to do so.

Re:Does this pass the "Evil" smell test? (1)

MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) | more than 4 years ago | (#30277372)

If they don't patent it, someone else will. If they allow everbody to use the patent, then it is still not evil, even if they charge a nominal fee to do so.

Once you publicly show the invention, someone else can't patent it. Well, it is supposed to work that way.

Soon (4, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276306)

There have been 17000 youtube searches for Natalie Portman naked in the last 450 milliseconds. We need a burst of cold air on rack 1000001, processor 304 on the second chip on the third stick of RAM.

Re:Soon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30277038)

There have been 17000 youtube searches for Natalie Portman naked in the last 450 milliseconds. We need a burst of cold air on rack 1000001, processor 304 on the second chip on the third stick of RAM.

No, you need a burst of cold shower on about 17000 sticks of geek.

Re:Soon (3, Funny)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 3 years ago | (#30277074)

Well...the Natalie Portman chip is hot...

Re:Soon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30283826)

Processor on a stick of ram?? There's more innovation in their servers than just cooling!

yay Slashdotted (1)

muphin (842524) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276562)

only 7 comments in and http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/ [datacenterknowledge.com] has been slashdotted :(

At least we know the DB servers are cool (2, Funny)

pintpusher (854001) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276576)

They can cross that off the list and carry on with other solutions to the

Error establishing a database connection

problem...

Re:At least we know the DB servers are cool (4, Funny)

miller60 (554835) | more than 3 years ago | (#30277212)

Yes, we were down. The previous database turned out to be a girly man database. We're back now with a (hopefully) manlier database.

Obvious patent (1)

13bPower (869223) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276594)

Going off the summary...

I invented that! Money please!

For real though, if people listened to me once in a while they would be rich. How do I cut out the middle man.....

Patenting the obvious (again) (2, Insightful)

drdrgivemethenews (1525877) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276670)

Engineer: Hmmm, looks like system 8323 is hot, maybe we should cool it down somehow.

Patent Attorney: Great idea! How many different ways can we cool it? When can I have a New Invention Report?

I can only hope that this straw contributes to breaking the camel's back.

Sweet.. sweet... (2, Funny)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276784)

...irony.

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com - Error establishing a database connection

Error establishing a database connection (1)

matty619 (630957) | more than 3 years ago | (#30276816)

Don't tell me "Datacenter Knowledge" got slashdotted.....not good for teh community.

Not a Patent (2, Insightful)

VernoWhitney (514284) | more than 3 years ago | (#30277112)

Seriously - is it too hard to note that it's only a Patent Application at this point?

Re:Not a Patent (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30277670)

Seriously - is it too hard to note that it's only a Patent Application at this point?

Do you really believe that Google, with an entire department of some of the best IP attorneys in the world, has a very high rejection rate for their patent applications? Seriously?!

Same heat flow (2, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#30277720)

Sorry, but they still need to remove the exact same amount of waste heat, while the cost of blowing air around is minimal, so I fail to see how this will save much if anything. It may even use slightly more energy since the smaller pipes will have more turbulence and may require more blower power.

Re:Same heat flow (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30278122)

The way I see it working is that by providing focused cooling where it is needed most, the rest can be sufficiently cooled at a higher ambient temperature, thereby reducing the energy needed to remove the same amout of waste heat.

Re:Same heat flow (4, Insightful)

Mr. Suck (62745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30278576)

You are right - you need to remove exactly as much heat as the equipment is generating. The energy savings with this scheme is due to the fact efficiency of chillers is lowest when asked to produce coldest output. Traditional data centers keep the hot parts cold by keeping everything very cold. Efficiency is improved if you can run your chiller at a higher output temperature and compensate for the reduced effectiveness of the warmer air by directing it where it is most needed.

Re:Same heat flow (1)

rcw-home (122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279320)

The energy savings with this scheme is due to the fact efficiency of chillers is lowest when asked to produce coldest output.

In practice this depends entirely on the design of the chiller - specifically the choice of working fluid and the choice of pressures. The refrigerator in your kitchen is happy to efficiently exhaust heat from freezing air to sweltering air. Heat pumps' theoretical limits of efficiency are the same as heat engines in reverse. The carnot efficiency of an engine with a 290K cold side and a 300K hot side is 3.33% - the carnot efficiency of an engine with a 280K cold side and a 300K hot side is 6.66% - exactly double, meaning exactly half the 280K/300K gas is used (or, with a chiller, produced). This means that with a given amount of energy and a theoretical-efficiency chiller, I can move the same amount of heat with either colder air or more air - it doesn't matter which.

Re:Same heat flow (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279520)

The cooling design for data centres needs to shift from an office cooling design to an industrial design. Once you get to that size data units should be shifted to auto-pick racks so you can run the whole facility beyond human comfort levels in the mid 30s centigrade. That way you only pre-condition fresh air and then exhaust rather than recycle. This allows you to adjust your cooling air from 100% fresh, to ground water cooling, to evaporative to refrigerated(ammonia) as external ambient conditions and heat sink capacity dictate.

You basically use to auto pick system to pick bad units from the rack, replace it with a functioning unit and return the defective unit to the service area via an airlock, where tech personal operating in the human comfort zone low 20s versus the server farm's mid 30s. So smart server farm re-design followed by an adjustable fully variable air 'conditioning' system which supplies air within the temperature, velocity and humidity ranges required to keep the hardware operating at near maximum safe operating temperatures.

Big whoop. (1)

HEbGb (6544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30278136)

First, having a patent means basically nothing. It doesn't mean it works, that it's practical, or that it will be used by anyone.

Second, this type of patent is going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to enforce. Prior art aside, how many data centers do you know that are open to public inspection? They can't just go buy a widget to compare them.

Seems like little more than a trophy (framed patent) for someone's office wall.

Directed cooling. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#30286016)

Military avionics has had very directed cooling for years. Cool air is a scarce resource in field systems. Here's an engineered cooling system [vmecritical.com] for VME boards. Military PC boards tend to have covers over the components. ("When someone is fixing your system, it's too hot, too cold, too dusty, or too wet, and someone may be shooting at them." - a reminder given military hardware designers.) Those covers can be designed to direct airflow. The covers then plug into an air plenum which feeds air into the covers.

The military designs go much further than civilian ones do. They'll use heavier copper on boards to improve conduction, and mounting rails designed to dissipate heat from the board into the chassis frame. The whole thing is designed so that somebody just slams the module into the rack and turns the locking handle without worrying about this.

Power Supplies (1)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288728)

More interesting to me are the power supply designs. Explicitly exposing the 12v and 5v busses, so a single external one can power an entire rack. Saves a lot of energy by eliminating inverter/rectifier pairs at the data center UPS and power supply. If ordinary commercial power supplies and office/home UPSs had this, we would all benefit tremendously.
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