Microsoft seeks patent for blade server chassis

OEMs will love this just like they loved Surface


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. The trays will provide and plug straight in to sockets for power and network connectivity.

Such an arrangement, the patent appears to argue, reduces cabling complexity and hassle.

Here's part of Microsoft's description of the design:

“Presented herein are configurations of a multi-blade computational unit architecture involving a chassis comprising a number of slots respectively configured to support an insertable tray hosting one or more blades of the server comprising a set of blade components. The chassis and blade provides power and network connectors that are positioned to couple upon insertion of a tray into a slot of the chassis, thus avoiding the inclusion of cables and the manual manipulation thereof.”

That sounds nice but hardly revolutionary.

The patent application also mentions a “chassis unified connector” providing power and data, which would be interesting as Power over Ethernet has generally been imagined as a way to fuel rather less energy-hungry devices than servers. Another feature Microsoft talks up is the ability to house blades of different sizes in one chassis, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.

One of the images describing Microsoft's blade server design

One of the images describing Microsoft's blade server design

There's also a discussion of integrating storage and compute blades. GPU and other specialist blades also get a mention elsewhere in the patent.

While it is not explicitly described, the patent could – if one draws a long bow – perhaps be considered almost a design for a kind of modular server. Built-in management components are also mentioned. Again with an optimistic eye, might that be a chance for Microsoft to embed some Hyper-V and/or System Center goodness in a blade chassis and have it orchestrate a server's components? Could software-defined-networking and virtualisation then get a new twist as physical and virtual resources become manageable in new ways?

An innovation of that sort might just quiet Microsoft's friends in server-land, as integration of OS, management layer and hypervisor is probably beyond them. But with some of Microsoft's server-land friends also having been stung by Surface, this patent could also provoke some testy questions, even if Redmond has only a stream of royalties in mind.

Or perhaps the patent describes how Redmond wants to build Azure bit barns, in which case everyone can move along because there's nothing to see here. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022