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Google Hardware

Google Patent Reveals New Data Center Innovations 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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Google Patent Reveals New Data Center Innovations

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  • by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @06:49PM (#30276368) Homepage
    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.
  • by Anonymous Psychopath ( 18031 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @06:54PM (#30276452) Homepage

    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.

  • by drdrgivemethenews ( 1525877 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @07:09PM (#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.
  • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @07:21PM (#30276844) Journal

    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.

  • Not a Patent (Score:2, Insightful)

    by VernoWhitney ( 514284 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @07:41PM (#30277112)

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

  • 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.

  • by Dishevel ( 1105119 ) * on Monday November 30, 2009 @07:43PM (#30277136)
    Patents are not stupid. Patents are great. Obvious patents given for large amounts of time are stupid.
  • by j1m+5n0w ( 749199 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @08:05PM (#30277392) Homepage Journal

    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).

  • by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @08:30PM (#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.

  • by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <enderandrew AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 30, 2009 @09:49PM (#30278268) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by General Wesc ( 59919 ) <> on Monday November 30, 2009 @09:50PM (#30278278) Homepage Journal

    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:Same heat flow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mr. Suck ( 62745 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @10:42PM (#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.

  • by S-100 ( 1295224 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @10:50PM (#30278656)
    Left one out: They want an arsenal of patents to make their cross-licensing portfolio more valuable.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger