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HPE pledge makes low-carbon data centre patents accessible for free

Written by Wed 28 Apr 2021

Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Facebook have all joined the initiative to support data centre adoption of low-carbon technologies

The Hewlett-Packard Enterprises (HPE) Low-Carbon Pledge, announced on Earth Day, is an initiative that will open key patents for use, royalty-free. This effort has been joined by Microsoft and Facebook, two of the largest consumers of data centre services.

The participants will offer access to their patents to accelerate data centre sustainability initiatives across the industry. These patents will give the companies that wish to innovate access to technological advancements made by tech giants – who have invested enormous amounts in research and development.

John Frey, Chief Technologist for Sustainable Transformation at HPE, gave insight into the motivation behind the Low-Carbon Patent Pledge. “The world needs radical collaboration to meet this critical moment in the climate crisis.”

Under normal circumstances, a patent holder would allow another company to use patented technology only in certain cases – and only if they receive royalties. However, with the climate crisis growing ever more serious, HPE and its partners in the pledge have suspended normal operations.

“To achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, we need to work together to innovate faster,” Frey continued. “By opening up these patents, we hope to help accelerate and encourage innovation by enabling others to build on what we are doing.”

Available patents include:

  • Microsoft’s submerged data centre trialed under the nickname “Project Natick.” This initiative was created to enable edge computing, as well as the logistic, environmental, and economic feasibility of an underwater data centre powered by 100% renewable energy.
  • HPE’s design of a nanosensor that can be used to detect coolant leaks, helping to prevent the release of harmful F gases into the atmosphere.
  • Microsoft’s 2019 patent for a self-contained immersion cooling server assembly. This technology helps to reduce the burden of cooling a large server room using traditional HVAC technologies, which may require the use of harmful F gases.
  • Facebook’s advancement in wind technology, which allows the use of prevailing winds to cool servers in the data centre.

The pledge to share patents without royalties, or fear of legal action, is a constructive action taken by some of the largest data centre companies to promote innovation across the industry. The HPE Low-Carbon Patent Pledge aims to create an open-source, supportive environment that will advance adoption of low-carbon technologies.

Written by Wed 28 Apr 2021


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