back to article Microsoft seeks patent for blade server chassis

Sharp-eyed blogger Kevin Houston has spotted a Microsoft attempt to patent a “Tray and Chassis Blade Server Architecture”. The patent, published last December, offers a chassis design that assumes blades – storage, compute, network switch and hybrid blades all get a mention – will reside in trays and be inserted horizontally. …


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  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Welcome the the proprietary blades racket, circa 2003.

    So what good is this?

    1) Microsoft-proprietary "IP" that Microsoft wants to flog but where everyone has to be toll-gated for --> Dead on arrival

    2) Microsoft-proprietary "IP" that Microsoft wants use in-house only --> Dead on arrival

    And seriously, no prior art?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Welcome the the proprietary blades racket, circa 2003.

      They are just learning from Apple.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Immenseness

      Re: Welcome the the proprietary blades racket, circa 2003.

      Stratus XA2000, early 80s (and that wasn't the first)

    3. Ian Michael Gumby

      Prior ART? Re: Welcome the the proprietary blades racket, circa 2003.

      What about bread board computers and an S100 bus?

      Circa 1980's

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Lapun Mankimasta Bronze badge

        Re: Prior ART? Welcome the the proprietary blades racket, circa 2003.

        I think it goes back a long ways before that - Microsoft has just reinvented the Mainframe. Behind all the others who have likewise reinvented the mainframe. About the only thing that's in any way different would be the Ethernet-over-Power, if that's even what the wording means ...

        Nothing innovated, nothing invented, nothing to see here, back to sleep, folks ... this isn't infringed by anybody else, and probably infringes ninety percent of all prior PC mainframe designs.

  2. hugh wanger

    Another MS bashing article, how juvenile. El Reg= the new Slashdot?

    No OEM was hurt by Surface. All outlets delight in publishing bad Surface sales news. What a sad world we live in where we concentrate on the company not the wonderful gadgets filling our lives.

    1. hplasm

      "the wonderful gadgets filling our lives."

      I thought you were droning on about Surface?

      1. cambsukguy

        Re: "the wonderful gadgets filling our lives."

        Surfaces are brilliant, different logins for anyone around here to have their ownlogin/apps etc. USB to allow massive files to be transferred when even WiFi is too slow - e.g. music library, no iTunes necessary not to mention off-line TV and movies. A slot for a micro SD to save even copying said large files - just plug it in and have another 64GB of storage. Did I mention that I also plugged a 1TB disc drive into it (without a power cable) and it just saw it and allowed File History backup to it (in addition to the automatic cloudy backups it can do also).

        Also connects to the standard Family Safety system so that all web traffic, apps, times-of-use, games age limits etc. are tracked for child accounts.

        The ability to just see all the network resources (with the network knowing who is connected because of those real logins) - I went looking to add my wireless printer (because it has Office and I can do real work and print the results as well as print that all-important concert ticket or check-in barcode) and the printer had already been located and installed.

        Two apps side-by-side, fucking brilliant, can read mails or El Reg and not have to switch to have a Skype conversation - it just sits there and you read the messages and bang in a reply as required.

        Wider screen, better for watching TV and movies in the first place. A really nice thin cover that is actually a functional keyboard with a trackpad. I even plugged a Logitech wireless (not Bluetooth) mouse and USB adapter thingy and it worked immediately. A stand that is strong as hell and stable, especially with the keyboard folded back as extra leverage when on the lap.

        Apparently, no Candy Crush, boo-hoo. It runs a proper browser complete with Flash so iPlayer etc. all run in the standard browser without needing an app anyway. There are, in fact, many more apps than I expected.

        It lacks 3G but so do a lot of tablets and all of them at the price, I use tethering anyway, another contract would be a pain except for a road warrior type. I think a MiFi device is the best option for big mobile data users as it covers all their devices (at the same time, including a phone if need be).

        The price? £309, for the 64GB version with the touch cover and Office. Ridiculously better value than other tablets I won't mention. I see it as a really useful, light albeit low-powered ultrabook I can actually afford rather than a tablet for consuming content, with the very useful attribute of being a tablet on which I can consume content.

        1. Flyberius

          Re: "the wonderful gadgets filling our lives."

          Couldn't agree more.

          Even the RT is perfectly suitable for light work around the office.

          I totally understand that some people prefer the simplicity of iPads and Android Tabs (Maybe not quite so for Android) and I agree that the Metro/Modern UI is a little pants for non touch devices, but the surface is a much more capable device. Unless your a app-whore I can't really see any disadvantages.

          Concerning this article however, I don't see how this patent is in any way valid. I am pretty sure that what they are describing are the same as the HP Blade arrays and enclosures that I have been working with my whole career.

          At least they're not trying to patent a glass doorway like a certain fruity company. *cough cough*

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "wonderful gadgets filling our lives"

      Should be: "wonderful gadgets filling our landfill sites", no?

  3. Oh Homer

    So Microsoft has just "invented"...

    ...something that Cisco has been doing for years.

    Is this like those times they claimed to have "invented" sudo and the record button?

    1. Roo

      Re: So Microsoft has just "invented"...

      Welcome to a world where filing first trumps prior art. The new US legislation is intended to encourage more patenting, by allowing patents to stand in the face of prior art they have opened the playing field to patenting every possible method out there. They will learn the hard way...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So Microsoft has just "invented"...

        Microsoft are not patenting the concept of a blade server. What they are patenting is "architectures for multiblade units that enable various advantages with respect to other architectures" - so they are patenting specifc innovations.

        1. Oh Homer

          Re: "enable various advantages"

          Apparently you didn't watch the video I linked to, which clearly demonstrates Cisco "enabling" exactly the same "various advantages" that Microsoft claims to have "invented".

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "enable various advantages"

            Apparently you havn't read the patent application. Microsoft are patenting some uniquely implemented features.

      2. Hud Dunlap

        @Roo. It was patent reform, didn't you read the press release?

        To make us like the rest of the world....

        1. Roo

          @ Had Dunlop Re: @Roo. It was patent reform, didn't you read the press release?

          "To make us like the rest of the world...."

          Let me fix that for you:

          ... Except Asia. :)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sounds like a laptop dock

    but with rails and in multiple.

    1. Doctor_Wibble

      Re: sounds like a laptop dock

      A long time ago I had this amazingly clever and unique idea about using old bookshelves and discarded laptops as a supercomputing cluster with multiple blades of different types, each with its own built-in console. (except for those where someone in the sales dept had 'accidentally' shut their pen in the lid when they wanted a shiny new one). And then someone said "yeah we could do that instead of binning them but the finance dept said something about depreciation or assets or something and it's your round anyway and don't forget the crisps this time".

      I don't understand how this thing is innovative in any way - there's transputers, clusters made up of standard-sized shelves with all sorts of different machines stacked in there, maybe even the Fred machines we had in Edinburgh (late 80s, early 90s) might qualify. And my old telex machine (motherboard was power and bus only, all functions were on the removable boards).

      I have an extension lead that does power and ethernet, if I put several of those into a metal box, am I violating the patent?

      Or possibly missed the point? Been known to happen. Also use of the preview button.

  5. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    They may regret offending the telcos

    I don't see anthing there that hasn't been available in VME, cPCI and ATCA for years, and the telco guys that use ATCA and derivatives have plenty of money and clout to push back on this.

    We really do need a "sit back with the popcorn" icon.

  6. Phil W

    Prior Art

    I haven't studied this in detail but as far as I can tell the basic premise of the patent describes the design and construction of a number of existing blade systems, including from my own personal experience the HP c3000 which has it's blade, IO and power modules all inserted horizontally. The only difference in the patent images is that they show all modules being inserted from the front where was the HP enclosures have IO and power at the back. But I would of though it still constituted prior art.

    I'm not entirely sure how long we've had this enclosure, but it was definitely well before June 2012 when this patent was applied before.

    1. Mr Anonymous

      Re: Prior Art

      "I'm not entirely sure how long we've had this enclosure, but it was definitely well before June 2012"

      I think the HP C3000 was introduced in early 2007.

    2. M7S

      Re: Prior Art

      And if you get the "shorty" configuration of the C3000, HP basically turn it on it's side and put a set of castors on, so the components can go in either way if MS as saying that's the USP. Also this chassis (and the 7000) is capable of taking blades of different sizes as well, some are "full height" as opposed to the more normal (here at least) half height and I think I've seen a couple of double width ones on an obscure page but I may be incorrect on that. Blades available in all sorts of types: Storage,Tape drive etc.

      I am probably missing something but when I read the article I really didnt see anything our 3000 isn't capable of doing if asked nicely (and I get a budget).

      1. Dazed and Confused

        Re: Prior Art

        > and I think I've seen a couple of double width ones on an obscure page

        Not only do they do half height blades you favour, full height and double width blades, they also do quad width blades, which would fill a whole C3000 and I've not even looked at the Non-Stop ones.

  7. Frank Van riet

    Prior work/Art...

    Actually the HP C3000 & C7000 were both launched in 2007. Before that there was the p-classs Bladesystem, which lived from 2002007 and the e-class from about prior art.. All the C-class Bladesystems chassis can house servers, storage, networking, power, management...just like the MS patent application..only differences : servers are placed vertically in the C7000 and horizontally in the C3000 and the interconnects are at the back.

    1. Mark Pipes

      Re: Prior work/Art...

      Then IBM has had blades for years, both Intel and Power systems. They just introduced a new generation of blade technology. This patent *REALLY* needs to be eliminated, there are scads and scads of prior art out there.

  8. Peter Simpson 1
    Thumb Down

    Get the patent first

    Then worry about defending/asserting it.

    There are an awful lot of crap patents out there, mostly due to management's expressed need to create a patent portfolio. At my previous company (3Com) there was a huge push and anything that even *looked* like it might be patentable was run through the applications process. I can't believe that other companies are much different.

    Hey, at least it's full employment for patent lawyers.

  9. Measurer

    I did this...

    With industrial control system Eurocard PCB's (motor drives, motion controllers, I/O etc.) back in the 90's, had a nice floating backplane too, so the first pcb which went in lined up all the DIN41612 connectors on the backplane pcb to the card guides on the 19" rack. Was sweeet...

  10. Mikel

    Oh HP, O'dell

    You didn't think they were going to stop at tablets, laptops, phones and desktops, did you? It's whole hog or none.

    1. IGnatius T Foobar Bronze badge

      Re: Oh HP, O'dell

      You didn't think they were going to stop at tablets, laptops, phones and desktops, did you? It's whole hog or none.

      Correct. Microsoft has realized that the game of acting as a software choke point with every OEM out there is just about up. They now need to become the next HP, Dell, Oracle, Apple, with a top-to-bottom stack that includes hardware, software, and *lots* of different ways of keeping users handcuffed into the "ecosystem"

      I hope they have fun. The commodity computing business will continue to shift towards Linux and Android.

  11. itzman

    Well that's allright then

    Because the optimal way to stack blades is vertically, to allow airflow and convection...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well that's allright then

      "Because the optimal way to stack blades is vertically, to allow airflow and convection..."

      Riiiight - and if the blade chassis has other equipment above it in the rack?

    2. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: Well that's allright then

      Please tell me that you're not a server admin somewhere...

      All modern rack-mountable server and storage equipment is designed to draw in cold air in the FRONT and expell it in the back. They've even stuffeed fans into the to help with the airflow.

      Which is why the vents in the floor tiles needs to be in front of the racks, not underneath.

      Yes, I may be wrong...

      I've only worked with HP rackmount servers since 1995, and DELL servers the last couple of years.

      And maybe the HP MSA and MSLs I have are factory rejects as they don't have air gaps in the top or bottom, either...

      The old Norsk Data ND5700 we had, though... Yeah, that drew in air any which way was open...

      But we rolled that out 15 years ago...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well that's allright then

        "All modern rack-mountable server and storage equipment is designed to draw in cold air in the FRONT and expell it in the back."

        Except certain Cisco crap that blows sideways!

        1. Trygve Henriksen

          Re: Well that's allright then

          Yeah, well...

          I'm not the admin of the bl**dy Cisco boxes at the office, so they can go boil to ashes for all I care...

          I was much happier with the old Ungermann Bass kit we had back in the 90s.

          (Hubs, bridges, routers, terminal servers, all in one 19" module. And they worked together...)

  12. Paul Mitchell


    1985 called, the VME boys want a chat....

  13. Justin Clements


    Maybe i'm missing something but a horizontal blade server chassis is not exactly good for heat. Heat rises so the top blades are gonna get fried.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm

      "Heat rises so the top blades are gonna get fried."

      No. Heat spreads equally in all directions in a uniform conductor. Like a metal chassis for instance...

  14. Fehu

    M$ more lawyers than engineers

    A few years ago I worked for a company that caused me to have to communicate with people that I thought were developers at Microsoft. Invariably, these "developers" would refer me to section and paragraph of such and such contract to help answer my technical question. Apparently, it has gotten worse there not better.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What is claimed to be novel and unobvious?

    Everything described was standard, and I designed without thinking about patenting it systems like this, at least as far back as the early 80s.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      And that was your big mistake !!

  16. LordHighFixer

    I am pretty sure

    That I have a whole datacenter full of HP and IBM stuff that has all of these features. But it has been a couple of months since I have been in there, maybe it has all been re-labeled Microsoft now....

  17. Ant Evans

    Hey Microsoft, you need to erase the invention from wikipedia *before* you apply for the patent, not *after*.

  18. A Long Fellow

    Prior Art

    I once set a Bladecenter chassis on its side.

    My lawyers have been mobilised. Don't bug me whilst I shop for my private island, okay?

  19. Lynrd

    I am wondering if someone at Microsoft took a look at some Dell DCS gear that has been in the M$ datacenter for the last 4 years while filling out the patent application.

    1. Volker Hett

      Makes sense!

      It's in our building, it runs our software, we're the biggest technology company, must be ours!

  20. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    A cupboard with all the wires in the back. What a novel idea! What next, a light bulb you can just insert into a socket without having to wire it up yourself?

  22. Flippit

    This is new? How exactly?

    Errrr, pointing out the obvious but I don't see how this is much different to blade chassis in use by most vendors for the past umpteen years. Have I missed out on a time portal opening up from 1982 and this article popped through?? If so, there needs to be a corresponding piece in the science section El Reg...

  23. Anonymous Coward

    We control the...

    Everyone, Microsoft included, are going vertical. Well, except Microsoft who are also going horizontal!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It'll not change anything

    It will still leave the challenge of what to do when the only person in the data centre is a software person, trying to make sense of the cabling at the back of the rack. Then you have the issue of diagnosing problems, and determining whether they're on the server or isolated to a single cable, except now you've got a bit in-between them to diagnose.

    As others have said, this patent absolutely stinks of prior art.

  25. John Sanders
    Paris Hilton


    """An innovation of that sort"""

    I'm interpreting this as some kind of sarcasm. Like most of the time I read the word innovation applied to IT

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