by ITInnovation

A Custom Cooling Method For Data Centers -- Patent Pending By Google

from the there's-a-patent-app-for-that dept

Google is no stranger to trying to cut its power costs and energy usage. Given that the energy consumption for servers can really add up (with almost 2% of all the electricity generated in the US being used by data centers), the benefits of trying to find more efficient ways to power and cool data center equipment can have a significant impact on both the bottom line and the environment. So it's not really too surprising that Google is patenting its custom data center cooling technology -- which uses an adjustable air-cooling system that saves energy by directing cold air to specific components only when they need it. (The patent application can be found here.)

To Google's credit, Google hasn't used its patents to attack competitors with lawsuits in order for Google to maintain a competitive advantage (though if there's an example of Google suing someone over patent infringement, please let us know). More usually, in the last few years, Google has been on the receiving end of lawsuits, and it's actually been lobbying for patent reform to prevent costly patent litigation that might drag down its innovation. In fact, Google says, "bring it on!" when faced with competition.
Google welcomes competition because it stimulates innovation, makes us all work harder, and provides users with more choice.
So for the data center experts out there, how obvious is selectively cooling servers? Browsing through this patent application, it seems fairly narrow in scope since it doesn't cover liquid-cooling or other cooling techniques that could be interpreted too broadly. And I'm sure some creative engineers are already working on different ways to direct cooled air to server hot spots -- and that Google isn't exactly going to snoop around other data centers to find out if anyone is infringing on its cooling methods.

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  • icon
    Devin Moore (profile), 7 Dec 2009 @ 2:38pm

    Patent protection

    Google is not stupid, they are going to get patents on whatever they need to in order to offer 'mutual assured destruction' protection for themselves against Microsoft and the other patent heavy hitters. 'Mutual assured destruction' for patents means that in a tough negotiation with a company like Microsoft, one could expect to hear the phrase:
    "We have patents on your XYZ technology, so you better agree to our terms or we'll get you."

    The other company has to be able to say "well, we have patents on your YZW technology, so agree to meet us in the middle or we'll get you."

    They meet in the middle, and everyone's happy. Without patent protection, the bigger of the two can clobber the other one on any sort of deals.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Derek Bredensteiner (profile), 22 Dec 2009 @ 1:21pm

      Re: Patent protection

      If there's a better case for why patents have failed in the real world, I don't know what it is. You have to have patents to defend yourself because everyone infringes and they know it (and the only reason us little guys get by is because we're too small of a target).

      So many are aware of the reality of the situation, why do so few make the logical jump to "patents bad"?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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