Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Intel

Intel Owns Patent on Distributed Computing 176

GnrcMan writes "Now here is something frightening: This patent describes a method of using an ISP subscriber's CPU cycles to process the ISP's data." As if Distributed.net, SETI@home, and other, similar projects hadn't been doing essentially the same thing all along, eh?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Intel Owns Patent on Distributed Computing

Comments Filter:
  • Simple enquiry - why bother making a claim when you're not going to sign it? No-one can know of your (possible) success...

    Greg
  • I'll leave it to you to supply the conclusion to that sentence.

    Someone who submits the abstract of a patent, which has no legal effect or enforceability whatsoever, gets moderated up to a "2," whereas someone else who tries to start a discussion of the patent *claims* (which *do* have legal effect) and to show why the patent doesn't cover what some of you think it covers receives only a "1".

    One might reasonably reach the conclusion that the moderators are trying to fan the flames just a little bit, especially after having featured the article about Corel and the GPL.

    Come on, folks. Grow up. Act as smart as you think you are.

  • Isn't the route that many companies are taking, to collect a "warchest" of patents, to be used to barter for infrigments that may be made in the future?

    Is this something that could be done for all GNU software? Is this something that we *should* be doing? To say nothing about the *BSD peoples concerns.

  • I own a patent on transportation in which creatures with two legs place one leg in front of another by picking it up using the joints in their legs to move the legs. Once a leg is placed in front of the other, the leg behind steps in front afterwards. This process is repeated until said creature reaches their destination. The process may be repeted as much as necessary and may be performed at several different speeds.

    I call it WALKING.

    ;-)
  • Is there really no mean to shut this guy down? Trolls can be funny sometimes, but this guy is starting to be really annoying... Shouldn't posts be marked as SPAM, a definitely deleted from the server?
  • What the hell? RPC has been around alot longer than any of those.

    Shit, any OS with any multithread/tasking at all has (minimally) message passing. What's the difference if the other thread/task is local or not.

    Either that, or I'm missing something.

    OBJ patent first post:

    Oh, and by the way, I just patented semaphores, so, please, you all owe me money.
  • I just read the entire patent (and now I know why col. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now is going 'the horror, the horror') and it seems to me like it's as open ended as might be.

    First of, the basis is exactly as for SETI@home but for the one single line (1a):
    receiving a start message at the remote computer from the central computer at a time that the central computer has predetermined the remote computer will be available for processing
    All of the 'for the good of the world' process distribution systems (like SETI@home) are initiated localy, at the discretion of the user. If I want to run my client overnight that's my decision, not the decision of SETI@home. But here Intel patents a method where the user has nothing to say about if s/he wants to give processor power away.

    Moving on (16):
    A remote computer having a first set of processing tasks that the remote computer is required to perform only during predetermined times, the remote computer being otherwise available for processing
    Now this, at least to my untrained eyes, seems to say that any time the central computer wants it the remote must perform the task. Once again there is no question of 'wanting', it's simply stated that the central comp can order the remote to perform certain tasks. Of course there is the part about 'at a predetermined time'. But that doesn't say anything about what that time is. An ISP using this system might require it's customers computers to be available at any given 'predetermined time', even if this would be in the mid-afternoon when they're in use.

    The idea is expanded in 21a:
    determining a time at which the remote computer will be available for processing a task selected from the second set of processing tasks
    The first set of tasks, stored localy on the remote, might be nothing other than a program that listens for a request from the central server. Thus the servers might, on a predetermined schedule say once every minute, querry the remote. If the remote would then be available it would recieve new data (ie second set) that would contain the 'real' data to be computed. Brilliant, AOL can now enter our comps and request us to compute for them at any time.

    Correlation 1(25):
    The method of claim 21, wherein the start message comprises a task and the raw data, and the raw data is processed in accordance with the task.
    And 2 (27):
    The method of claim 21, wherein the [returned] message comprises the processed data.

    Ok, so now it's a quetsion of intention. In the patent Intel states its benign intentions, to lessen the server load of an ISP and/or sitehost. But, as with any patent, this could be seen more generaly as the ability to 'slave' a users computer on the whim of an outside agency. Thus it is up to the reader to decide whether they belive in the goodwill of the Intel Corp. or not.

    On a side note, wasn't this form of distribution common already in the 70s with linked Microcomputers being assigned tasks from a central computer?
  • While it's true that this patent relates to distributed computing, that's not what this is about. What they've really got here is a patent on a method of stealing subscribers CPU cycles. Better check out the ToS when you sign up with an ISP cause, guess what? If this idea comes to be, you might just be required to do some of the processing for your ISP. Another quote to illustrate exactly what they're looking to process:

    If a ISP did that you could launch some very nasty attacks against their network by sending them back bad data. Depending on exactly what the parallel processing does you could cripple an ISP. You would have to check the acuracy of all of the data sent back from your customers. That would take up lots of cpu time. Probably more time then you would gain. It just isn't practical unless you can trust your customers. I don't think many ISP's do.

    Secondly this isn't compatible with Linux. :)

  • NeXT Computer Inc, published Zilla.app (the forerunner of Beowulf) in 1992. (actually, it may have been earlier than that, but I first used it when NeXTSTEP 3.1 hit the streets.

    Intel can go fuck themselves.

    -jcr
  • But being time is relative, predetermined to what?

    A lawyer could argue that it is 'predetermined time frame' that after getting the new packet, work is started.

    And another lawyer could argue that SETI is done for personal reasons, and try to invoke the 'built for personal use' clause.

    (being a realist, Intel won't bother with SETI/Distributed.net/etc. They want things that generate cash, and therefore SETI etc la don't matter.)

    I even doubt they will get a $ on this patent....instead it will be part of the 'trade' when companies swap patents. (thus erecting barriers for entry for any new company. Helps keep your competitors known and limited. It would be a bad thing to have a new gal come in upset the way business has always been done.) If it never costs you, you have no reason to challenge it.

    As for prior art I submit CRON and tape backup scripts I've seen in the past on UseNet.
  • Could we move all "bogus patent" announcements/"news" to its own section so people can check an "exclude" box and not have to hear about them? It seems that, almost once a week now, there's a story about some horrible patent or another that's bound to make our lives more difficult. As far as I know, though, the "making lives more difficult" part has never occurred or I haven't read about it occurring. All these articles seem to do is inspire a string of silly "I patented walking!" posts on slashdot and take up space on the main page. A section of their own would be a welcome thing.

    Just my opinion, of course...

    - A.P.
    --


    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • The cult of the dead cow oughta patent Back Orifice, then...
    -- ----------------------------------------------
    Vive le logiciel... Libre!!!
  • What on earth are the US patent office doing?

    I wonder too. In France, having a patent implies that a "recherche d'antériorité" has been done. It's a kind of research in archives to check if your idea haven't already been patented and/or discribed. This research is done by the administration, and ensures you your idea can be patented (actually it costs money).

    In the US, it seems that the patent just proves that you had the idea at the time you get the patent. So in a court, you will be able to use this as a fact to defend you right for money, but it does not ensure you will win if someone else claims for anteriority.

    In my opinion, the US system gives more strengh to the guys with a-lot-of-lawyers. You will never go to a court if you are alone with no money.

  • It somehow seems to come in fasion to claim patents on common technology everybody's using...

    I think I'm going to patent going to the toilet.
  • No, unless I'm thinking of a different rexec [freebsd.org] than you are, that's not what Intel's patent is about. They might use rexec to implement their hypothetical system, but rexec itself only does part of what they're claiming a patent on. (Like DCOM, which someone else mentioned.)

    I mean, you can't say that all software patents are invalid because someone had already invented assembly language. Or that no mechanical devices can be patented because they all make use of the classical machines (lever, wheel, whatever, I forget, I'm a software guy).

    raph's [mailto] mention of Sprite [berkeley.edu] seems to be getting close...the "main" system determines what and when the "remote" computers execute.
    --

  • The date given for the filing is April 18, 1997. This is long after the beginning of GIMPS [mersenne.org] in January, 1996. Long before Intel even filed for a patent on this exact sort of computing. Perhaps George Woltman, spokesman of the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, has a case against Intel for theft of intellectual property.
  • Afterall my IP address may change but my CPU stays the same....just a thought.
  • UUX originally ran over modems and phone lines. THe transport protocol was UUCP (read on -- it's not a fatal flaw). The 'master' computer could send a signal to a remote machine. The remote machine would execute the process and could return the result to the 'master' (or any other computer.)

    The remote computer was capable of determining when (if at all) it was going to accept execution requests (this was much more important when just LOADING emacs took a few seconds an a good-sized VAX). A computer's admin could also decide WHICH commands could be executed by the so-called central computer.

    Of course it all fell together when UUCP over TCP/IP (inc. over a lan) was implemented. You now have the INTEL patent, as described, over TCP/IP and in the earliest days of the internet (read: early to mid-80's). If you ignore the need for it to be done under TCP/IP, then the prior art stretches back to the '70s.

  • As has been said, this is done all the time all over the world. SETI@home does it, GIMPS does it and I do it locally in one of my research projects.
    Of course this is a frightening situation because I start having this phantasy of getting letters from lawers saying I have to pay a license fee for using "their" software technology.

    Can anyone familiar with patent law comment on what their chances are to get through with this?
    This technology is documented, has been done, so acutally the patent should have been not accepted.

    Cheers,

    Chris
  • patented? pfffft yea right and Bruce Perens is gonna sue Corel. ;)
  • We /.-ers don't think such idea/innovation should be protected by a patent. But Intel is a blue chip and its lawyers (as well as any of its employees and managers) have the duty to fully protect the FUTURE of Intel. They do not intend to actaully request payments from other parties but to defend themselves against such payment request. They were hit by big money request (from DEC and others) just because some silly obvious technique was not Intel patented. They (as IBM and other technology giants) have literaly hundred of thousand of patents for which they don't claim third parties fees.
  • by Money__ ( 87045 ) on Saturday November 27, 1999 @01:47AM (#1501687)
    Abstract

    A system executes computer processing tasks on a remote computer that communicates with a central computer. The remote computer receives a start message from the central computer. Based on the start message, the remote computer processes raw data to generate processed data, and stores the processed data. Finally, the remote computer sends a complete message to the central computer.

  • One of the problems I see is this, "predetermined time" can be twisted to mean just about anything you want it to mean. "Predetermined time" can mean when your screen saver comes on, at 4:00AM, or when you haven't been typing for 60 seconds. With this type of language, predetermined time and predetermined event are practically synonyms. I for one don't want to walk away from my computer and find it suddenly processing AOL's billing or anything else. Not that I wiuld use AOL of course but you get my meaning :)

    Just my .02
  • Yes, but we in Europe know WHERE America is! Therefore we know where to look. I recall that America was an original and interesting discovery - lets Patent America!
  • The patent office has been patenting ideas like these for more than a decade, and you would think that they would learn by now, but they don't. The worst part is that distributed computing has been the thing over the past several years with SETI@Home, distributed.net, and the like. Even though Intel patented a specific form distributed computing, what does that say for the other forms? Does that mean Microsoft will patent distributed computing between office workstations and the corporate server?

    I am currently working on a research project dealing with distributed computing with the idea remotely similar to what Intel patented. Does this mean I will have to stop research in order to keep the attorney away, or what? Gotta love corporate america.

    On a personal note, my research project will be submitted to a science fair that is coincidentally sponsored by Intel. Weird.

  • The problem I see with the "first to file" system is when the inventor wants the invention to be "free"... For example a public domain-project or something like that. Will he then have to file the patent himself and then declare it "free to use"??? And go through all that work just so no other company can claim it for themselves?
  • On steps 1 through 4... precisely right.

    Step 5: go ahead and try it. The state of patent law is as follows: the undermanned and undereducated patent office simply can't determine which ideas in technology are fresh and unique -- so when in doubt, they grant the patent.

    However, if a patent is not legit (ie neither fresh nor unique), the courts will not hold up the patent... and the patent sluts know that.

    IMNAL, and I am concerned about 'the government' making big incorrect decisions, but I have more faith in the judicial system than the legislative system...

    So, at the very least, keep steps 1 and 6, but do not worry about the patent sluts, for they will be humbled.

    - Tommy V
  • A system executes computer processing tasks on a remote computer that communicates with a central computer. The remote computer receives a start message from the central computer. Based on the start message, the remote computer processes raw data to generate processed data, and stores the processed data. Finally, the remote computer sends a complete message to the central computer.

    Ummmm... I think Microsoft might just initiate some action on this matter. That's DCOM. and probably CORBA as well, although I know nothing about it, an let's face it, whoever 'owns' CORBA isn't gonna get a nasty as M$ about it.

    How is it not COM? A COM object in a 3-tier app exposes an interface, takes a request from the remote computer and returns data. Any M$ developer who attends there tech briefings knows Microsoft is COM-crazy these days. It's being billed as a cornerstone of every new development problem you need to solve. (OT: They are even taking about making the interface between objects XML.)

    Anyway, I just think M$ is gonna take one look at that and say BULLSH*T!

  • Abstract:

    A system whereby oxygen (O) is transferred to cells in a liquid (blood) and other gasses are removed from said blood.

    Inventors: God; The Almighty (Heaven)

    Assignee: Most living creatures. (Exception: Al Gore)

    Appl. No: 1

    Filed: Way Back When


    CLAIMS

    1. A method of transferring usable and no usable gasses to and from the blood to facilite cell usage and growth. Whereby a repeating precess is utalized first filling containers (lungs) with raw material (air) and allowing it to pass close to the blood. The blood therby absorbs Oxygen and other needed gassesd and releases Carbon DiOxide and other unneeded gasses. Raw Exhaust is then expelled from the said containers, sometimes forcefully (cough).


    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

    One day I was sitting around bored and said hey.. why don't I make something to take cure my boredom? YOu can read more about my inventions in the very first chapters of The Bible. Unless of course you are a scientist or an atheist. Then you can read some Darwin and see that it was all a big accident.

    SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

    The present invention is for staying alive. Period. Stop using this invention and see what happens. We will be charging for its usage soon, that is if the HMO's don't start first.




  • This is a scarey prospect not necessarily from the view of a tech knowledable person (or a geek/nerd), but for the growning computer functionally illiterate. Just think of the millions of consumers who think of the computer as a glorified TV. They would not have a clue this is going on (-hey, george, do you have any idea why the computer slows down at 3pm every day?-) nor would they know enough to be able to set up false packets. Heck, even more frightening is the concept that if some of these consumers knew about this sort of thing would not only welcome it but think it appropriate. Think what that might mean in the long run... legislation to mandate the individual give up their CPU cycles for the "greater good" of the many & futher legislation to make it illegal to provide bad packets or interfere with it in any way (yes... I do look for the dark aspects of the future in the extreme...).

    -TShrew
  • The point I was making about the 'predetermined time' is that it's the central computer that determines it. With Seti, distributed et al it's the user who determines when they get run, not the central computer, so I can't see how this could fall under the patent. But I could be wrong.
  • Although the intent of the patent is for distributed computing across a large network, it seems to me that it would also cover clustered computer systems like beowulf.

    Maybe some day when people try to enforce these patents, defendants will look to old /. postings for tips on prior stuff.

  • Sun's mandtool, which used rpc to farm out jobs based on the load of remove machines, existed at least in 1986 when I was a sophomore in college and the Suns arrived on campus. I seem to recall seeing a 1980 copyright on it, but

    There was also a language called LINDA that ran on VMS and other idle machines at one of the government labs in the 1986-1989 time frame.

    There were several VMS and Unix distributed make programs/wrappers that farmed work out to clusters based on the load average or other criteria of idleness. Again, this is in the late 1980's time frame.

    As someone who read info-vax and comp.sources.unix during this time frame, I'm surprised that others haven't pointed out the archives of the early days of USENET.
  • If there were a final public challenge mechanism available, we wouldn't get such obvious stuff patented. All they would have to do is set up a web site where patent applications in final form were published for comment, like slashdot articles.

    A parallel distributed search for prior art via public review is going to be a lot more effective than one or two examiners going through their search, IMHO.

  • The claims of the patent aren't limited to applying distributed computing techniques between an ISP and their customer, and it's the claims that ultimately matter.
  • Eeek I hate it when I get my dates wrong...
    Bad cat... bad cat person...

    Oh well.. thanks for da correction....
    :)
  • Yes, but the claims do not apply to all of distributed computing. They specifically describe processing initiated by the server. AFAIK, most of the distributed computing projects out there are initiated by the client. It's an important distinction.
    Besides, yet another moronic patent is old news. To me, the idea of an ISP requiring subscribers to process data is more intriquing. Just how much mileage can you get out of, "Wow, that's a dumb obvious patent that has been done before". I think that whole angle is running out of steam. We all know that the patent system is broken right now and if I spent an hour looking through the database, I'd be able to find hundreds of examples to prove it.

    --GnrcMan--
  • by Mentat21 ( 36271 ) on Saturday November 27, 1999 @04:41AM (#1501708)
    As far as patents are concerned, "essentially the same thing" is not the same thing. SETI@home and Distributed.Net are not doing the same thing as this patent covers. I'm begining to think that Slashdot needs a clue about patents (though with all the discussion you think someone might have got one by now).
  • 4) Wait six to ten months for the patent office to stare cluelessly at the patent and eventually give up on "seeking prior art" (patent employees do not read SlashDot...lucky for you!)

    This is a common misconception. The patent office does not have the duty to search for prior art. The patent applicant has the duty to notify the patent office of any and all material prior art. The patent office may find some on its own, but the job is not theirs, at least not under US patent law.

    The reason behind this is twofold:
    • The patent process is not adversarial. If the application meets the requirements, the patent office is obliged to grant the patent, and nobody but the applicant has the right to participate in the process.
    • The patent office is not expert in the field of the invention. By definition, the inventor/applicant knows more about the subject area than the patent office. The inventor is much more likely to know of applicable prior art than the patent office.
    Failure to tell the patent office of all relevant prior art is one legal ground for overturning a patent in court. If there really is prior art, then Intel's patent is invalid and unenforceable...however, the mere existence of distributed.net and SETI@home may not be enough: they must embody elements of every claim in IBM's patent to completely invalidate it, which may or may not be the case. Check with your friendly neighborhood patent attorney for details (and no, I'm not one).
    --
  • fortunately, and alittle bit more seriously - all the ideas I post I remember. So if you try to patent any of *my* ideas, you're libel to be smacked around with a clue-by-four.
    --
  • What Intel is describing (in effect, the ability to push processing tasks to remote machines) is something clearly anticipated by Microsoft's COM technology. (In 1997 the marketing name du jour was OLE 2.0, but since "OLE" had come to be a synonym for "speed brake" they changed the name.)

    This technique is really quite appealing to large corporations, particularly corporations with operations around the world. I have a client with 16,000 PCs in 34 countries (soon to be 25,000 PCs in 52 countries when a pending acquisition is completed). As I write this they have thousands of PCs sitting on the other side of the world, in the dark, doing nothing. Imagine being able to harness all that CPU time....

    There are lots of CPU-intensive tasks that are particularly suited to processing on a plain old desktop PC (as opposed to a top-of-the-line smoking quad Xeon processor box). OCR, image manipulation, and image compression are three activities that spring to mind. If you have unused PCs sitting around, and the network bandwidth to get the data to those PCs, this kind of distributed computing can provide a tremendous benefit to a corporation for essentially zero additional capital.

    Microsoft already makes this possible: create a DCOM agent on the remote PC. Ship an install set, and have the agent run the remote install. Ship the data, get the data back (repeat for the next eight hours). You can leave the installed app on that remote machine, or you could even get clever and remove it for security's sake. (This, incidentally, is precisely the technology in Internet Explorer that Microsoft is insisting must be considered a core part of Windows.)

    Microsoft isn't going to let Intel prevent anybody from using DCOM--just isn't going to happen. But on the other hand, Microsoft may not fight very hard--Microsoft and Intel (and most of the major technology companies) have cross-licensing agreements that permit using patents of one another. (Sort of a free trade agreement among tech firms, if you will.) If this threatens the functionality of COM (which is the core of Microsoft's Distributed Network Architecture) then we'll see some fur fly. But I don't see that happening.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm not an expert on this, but it sounds an aweful lot like Zephyr. It's basically a load-sharing tool. I don't think this could be used for things like serving up web pages, though. Keep in mind that it's for processing raw data. I'm sure there's loads of Prior Art in this field.
  • Beowulf was definately not the first clustering project, and also not the first clustering project on Linux. But they are currently the most popular. Some other clustering projects that preceeded Beowulf include:
  • Weird as it might sound I believe what Intel tried to patent was a way to do a distributed network between a PC an some devices (Computers, toasters, coconut monkeys, etc.. That might be a little more coherent considering Intel's latest shopping spree on appliance device building blocks (With their PC centric view).

    I believe so because any person who has done serious work with distributed computing knows that hub's aren't supposed to originate transactions but to route them (As in receiving a start signal and sending the appropiate chunk of data or passing the request to another node).

    BTW, SETI@Home is IMHO more a client-server oriented application than a real distributed network because all data is still centralized.

    ZoeSch

  • I'd like to see a court case involving someone trying to prove he was the first person to have the idea of going for a dump :-)
  • "These personal computers may also include RAM memory, a display unit, long-term storage such as a hard disk drive, and other proprietary processors such as video graphic cards and math co-processors."

    Hmm... this concept sounds intriguing. I wonder who owns the patent on "a display unit"... I'm going to have to get my but over to the patent office, something like "a display unit" could be worth millions.
  • With the Internet, and human life in general having spread to all corners of the globe, I dont think you really should be able to patent something anymore. It's just that information is spread too thin, and therefor no one can be sure what has and hasnt been done.

    Anyone know of an organization of some sort that's working toward the end of patents? if you do, please E-Mail me.
  • Also in the news today [newsunlimited.co.uk], the House Foods company of Japan is attempting to patent the means for cooking curry in that country.

    Perhaps Intel is being too modest - maybe they should just patent computing? (hey, that's a joke, not a troll)

  • This patent is describing remote job entry. Prior art for this extends all the way back to the 1960s.
  • "Oh my God, they've patented computers! WE'RE ALL DOOMED!!!"

    I've learned to examine what a patent actually claims before I decide whether it's ridiculous. The blurb that you read in a news article is never a description of what is actually patented.
    --

  • First-to-file is even more likely to raise the ire of slashdotters than first-to-invent: it destroys the relevance of prior art. Under a first-to-file system, the existence of another object prior ro rht filing date that meets the same claims as those in the patent is completely meaningless.
    --
  • OOOOh - let me see

    It doesn't matter about the abstract and description sais - the claims are important - here there are 4 (plus dependants):

    • 1. basic remote server
    • 10. a prefered implmentation of it
    • 16. the remote computer's operation
    • 21. a 'method patent' for the idea (trying to make it apply to a wider range of stuff)
    All of these basicly describe the same idea - used since there were first more than one piece of hardware hooked together - the reason they rewrite it 4 different is to give them more ways to defend it in court.

    Note the 'predetermined times' clause, I think this seems to be what they think is different from prior art, though they seem to miss most of what's been done. Sadly the patent system only encourages the citing of prior patents - if someone did something and didn't patent it it's not likely to end up in the cites and the examiner will miss it

    Here's prior art I can think of

    • I did a screen saver that ran verilog simulations on people desktops late at night in 1989 (my personal example)
    • any RJE batch system from the 60s that served more than 1 CPU - often some queues only opened at night
    • print servers serving multiple printers
    • Pixar's use of render farms - discussed in depth in the popular media long before this patent was implemented
    I'm sure people can think of other examples - please follow up this post with any you can think of - that way anyone finding themselves in court with these bozos (ok these bozos have lawyers up the wazoo so be carefull) will have a resource to use in their defence
  • That's all well and good until they try to pull a Unisys and claim royalties on a firmly entrenched standard.

    Allow me to introduce a concept that most slashdotters appear to have no concept of: fiduciary duty. The officers and directors have a legally binding and enforceable duty to their shareholders - and NOBODY ELSE - to use the assets of the corporation to maximize the value of the corporation itself. If the corporation has an asset and fails to take best advantage of it, then the shareholders can sue and the officers and directors can be held personally responsible for the lost value.

    This principle means that a corporation that has a patentable invention has a duty to its shareholders to patent it, and a corporation that holds a patent has a duty to exploit it to the best advantage of the shareholders.

    I don't like the way Unisys is handling the LZW patent either, but they're hardly evil for doing so. It's quite likely that they are only doing what the law requires of them.
    --
  • Along with the technical and legal ends, don't forget the administrative end. For this excellent idea to succeed, it also needs to be well organized and efficiently run.

    May I suggest that along with a strictly factual database of prior art citations (as a service to the USPTO and anyone who has to defend against the patent pirates), the web site also include a collection of philosophical writings that discuss the common intellectual property of mankind and corporate attempts to sieze it for private gain. It might also be useful to have a Ridicule section that exposes the unscrupulous, the selfish, and the sly in colorful language that will draw the attention of popular media.

  • Actually, the above comment wasn't a troll, it was SPAM. That's right, just some lowlifes trying to make money by interfering with an on-line discussion.

  • If two individuals or companies apply for patents on the same invention within a short time period neither of them deserves the patent.

    If two or more companies apply for a patent of the same invention within a short time isn't it a proof that it was obvious enough that many different people could invent it, therefore making it non patentable.

    I think this would be the logic reasoning and would have the same result with a small nuance, in the first case both believe they should have a patent on it, and they are angry not to have one. In the second case it prove that the thing is obvious, then denying any right to patent it AND following the rules of patents.
  • Huh ? Anything network based is prior art. This is the way message-passing systems work. Someone sends a message, and gets a processed reply. This is hardly new technology.

    I as well as thousands/millions others who has written networked applications has prior art for this patent.

    Besides, I more and more get the feeling that patents should be neglected in the field of computer science. At least the patents which everyone with basic knowledge in the field can see are merely another formulation of some well known problem or application of technology/theory.

    I'm not going to check the patent office when I write apps. I'm convinced that I'm infringing a handfull of patents every time I write something, and thats good enough for me. This madness can be stopped in one way; not by changing the rules (because too many people with too much influence seem to like the rules), but by ignoring the rules.

    It is not in general a viable solution to a bad rule, to just ignore it. Society can't build on a strategy like that. But in this case, I think it's justified. This could be thought of as a ``virtual civil war'', where the oppressed fight back but noone gets hurt.

    I'm not afraid, and you shouldn't be either. If we live in a world where people can get arrested for using common knowledge in a way that helps society, then so be it. Go ahead and make my day.

  • "changes in the patent system in the US cannot be made retroactive in any way that would result in doing away with existing patents. That would be a government taking of private property"

    I this isn't possible then when the copyright period was extended from 50 years from the author's death to 70 years to the author's death the then existing copyright shouldn't have retroactively been affected by it, meaning that Mickey and co would be public domain by 20003 or something like that.

    I we go one step further, the government took YOUR property (that is, the twenty more years given to the then existing copyrighted material) and should refund you for the amount they stole you, that is for each dollar somebody gave to Disney that was related to Mickey.

    Your government owe a VERY big debt to it's citizen, I think you should sue him, you could make a LOT of money (and make the State go bankrupt BTW)
  • by alanl ( 25267 ) on Saturday November 27, 1999 @07:34AM (#1501740)
    I was at a dinner with a patent examiner a few weeks ago (he was not a software guy but was pretty knowledgeable ..).. so I dumped on him .. His point was that the patent office has to follow the law, and a court ruled that software patents were fare game (also business models etc). Turns out the P.O. doesn't like the result either but they do _not_ make the law and so are powerless.

    What they are thinking about doint is adopting the (European?) system of posting patent applications on the web to get peer review (i.e. us) for prior art etc.

    Bottom line -- the P.O. is overwhelmed with applications not of their own choosing and knows they are up the creek. They could do with help, not flames -- right your congressperson.

    Tnx
    Alanl
  • I believe way back in 1991 or 1992 , they had a demo for computing fractals using rpc.

    Sinan
  • by raph ( 3148 ) on Saturday November 27, 1999 @07:47AM (#1501743) Homepage
    First, let me add my voice to those who say that Slashdot's patent stories could use a clue or two. These sensationalistic headlines don't help anybody. I'll be adding a patent section to Advogato [advogato.org] soon, and it's my hope that this will become a good place for informed discussion of patents relating to free software.

    When you analyze a patent, the most important thing to look at is the claims. The abstract has little or no legal force, it's just there to help people searching (it's on the front page of paper patents, which was important back in the days when people searched through stacks of them :). The language of the claims has to be read in the context of the disclosure of the patent, and to really do it right, you have to read the file history too.

    That said, this is another example of the US Patent and Trademark Office screwing up royally. Claim 1 covers a pretty generic computation load-sharing system - a central computer keeping track of a bunch of tasks, sending a start message to a remote computer to ask it to take the task, and the remote computer sending a complete message back to the server.

    The problem here is that there is prior art up the wazoo. I'm sure experts in the field could come up with more, but just about any operating system with process migration, such as Sprite [berkeley.edu] should do. The main work on this project was all done in the early '90s, plenty of time to serve as prior art.

    The disclosure doesn't help the case. It talks about the types of tasks to be distributed in extraordinarily vague terms, so much so as to not make much sense. Compressing MPEG's remotely? Are they on crack? Even a 320x200 at 30fps is over 5 megabytes per second of raw data. And of course serving up web pages is fraught with problems, such as latency, security, admin costs, reliability, and so on. The patent does not so much as mention these problems, let alone propose a reasonable method of dealing with them.

    So what do you do when you have such a crappy patent? I think a reasonable thing for free software authors to do is ignore it. In theory, Intel could bring suit against a free software project for violating this patent. However, in that case it seems likely to me that we'd be able to get a good pro bono legal team together, and the patent would almost certainly be overturned.

    In the meantime, I think our best option is to keep well informed about patents in general, and about specific patents that may be relevant. Shallow, "golly gee-whiz, look at the patent they just got on breathing" stories don't help much.
  • HAh! Powerless. They can use the same methods of
    protest and civil disobedience that every other citizen is entitled to. They could show up on the
    doorstep of the justice department with pitchforks, plowshares, and torches, if they "really" don't like the status quo. But I guess they don't dislike it *that* much now do they?

    They *do* make the law. They make it stupid, by blindly following it.

    But your patent examiner friend doesn't see it that way; rather, he chooses to be "powerless".
  • I realize you're joking but, just to be clear, you can't patent a business practice (i.e. charging money for something.)

    --GnrcMan--
  • Check out cosm [mithral.com], a open project for distributed computing. It is implementing much of what you are looking for.
  • I agree completely. I'm actually kind of irritated at Roblimo. My original submission was titled, "A scary patent on stealing CPU cycles".

    Apparently he decided to play patent interpeter and make the (incorrect) assumption that this patented all of distributed computing. My comment [slashdot.org] explains what I believe to be the real discussion point. And I say discussion point because, hey, Intel hasn't made any indication that they will ever even do anything with this patent. There are lots of patents on things that never even get implemented.

    --GnrcMan--
  • The ruling the PTO originally used to justify patents was one (I can look the case up if you want) where using a computer as part of a process was deemed not enough to make the process unpatentable. A computer was assisting a manufacturing process. That is a far cry from the patents that are allowed on software today.

    As for peer review. too late. the cat is out of the bag. There are thousands of bogus software patents. The only way the PTO could again gain respect in my eyes would be to invalidate all software patents and start the approval process over again.

    Plus I don't pity the patent examiners... just doing their job. oh please. A big part of their budget is based on how many patents they approve. So they have an incorrect bias in approving patents. It is a blantent case of conflict of interest. Much like how a judge can't preside on a case where he has an interest in the outcome (like he would make a mil on his stock in the defense won for example)
  • Fluorescent brown? Yeah, ok.. you go right ahead. I doubt anyone would buy the rights to the patent in the first place, I mean, brown? First thing that comes to mind there is a pile of ... well, you know.
  • Dialups just aren't fast enough for this to be rolled out anytime soon, and people don't appreciate having their phonelines tied up, either.

    But, when cable modems and all the rest really catch on, look out!
  • First off, Intel is not an ISP. They obviously don't want to use it themselves. They most likely have it because they don't want anyone else to use it.

    Intel obviously wants to sell more of their big server chips to ISPs, be it Xeons, Itaniums, or PPros back when they took out this patent. This basically forces the ISPs to buy their own computers.

    Further, Intel does not want the burden of this distributed computing placed onto the user's computers. The ISPs want a reasonable turnaround, and probably aren't going to settle for idle time only. Most likely, this processing WILL cut into the user's experience. Intel has lots of other uses for that power in mind.

    We can all guess what happens to the high end markets. They suffer a reduction in CPU performance that they will likely miss and possibly some jerky performance a few seconds at a time. The high end market is likely not going to settle for an ISP like this, but might get stuck paying much more for their internet connection as the typical web surfer.

    The typical web surfer's processor power is also something that shouldn't be wasted. Intel is embracing cheap PCs. Software modems are perfect for intel here. When built into the motherboard, they only cost $10, and get all their processing power from the CPU. Next comes sound. The number of chips in a computer can be greatly reduced if it's capability is just handled by the CPU. Of course, this comes at a major CPU performance price. By doing this, computer prices are falling, and even low end users have a use for all that processing power. Again, the ISP's processor usage would cut into the experience of the user.

    If users percieve a decrease in performance, computers all of a sudden become a worse deal, and people are less likely to buy them. Remember, there are still lots of people without computers. If people catch wind that ISPs are only bothering stealing processor power from the fastest processors, all of a sudden a low end machine and a high end machine look a lot more similar in terms of performance.

    The way I see it, Intel just wants everyone to buy their own processor an to get what they paid for.
  • I've been trying to think of a system that actually exists which is similar to the patent, and I can't.

    • SETI@home, distributed.net, GIMPS, etc. The remote PC runs the program at will, when it's idle.
    • DCOM. Just because Microsoft invented something that could be used to implement the patent, doesn't mean the patent is bogus.
    • When I worked at "a major software company"(*), there was for a while a system that used the programmers' PCs on the LAN to compile a big application each night. (This was back in the days of 286's & 386's with 1MB RAM, when a build could take all night or longer on one PC.)
      Each user had to activate the system when they left work, so the "predetermined time" was determined by the remote PC. It probably did react to "a start message from the central computer", but I'm not sure.
    It still seems possible that someone somewhere has done the same thing that Intel has patented, and I'm curious to hear more examples -- from people that have actually read the patent claims.

    (*) If I told you the name of the company, I would lose all my moderation points and my karma would drop to zero. :-)
    --

  • PVM is a good cantidate for prior art. To quote the relevant section of the header comment:

    * Revision 1.1 1996/09/23 23:44:26 pvmsrc
    * Initial revision
    *
    *
    */

    Distributed computing in general is much older still. I was using it on '386es over Lantastic in the mid-80's. As far as I knew then, it was uncommon, but not exactly unheard of. Intel is nowhere near being the inventor of any of this.

    The patent office was created to encourage inventors to publish in exchange for a brief (for the time) monopoly on the idea. That was fair compensation since they could just as easily keep it a trade secret and have it last nearly as long. It's primary purpose was to encourage progress by giving inventors a way to safely find an investor and keep inventions from being lost.

    Today, patents like this one and the MANY other examples show that the USPTO is having EXACTLY the opposite effect on society. Small inventors can loose their patents by having large corperations steal it, and then throw money and lawyers at them until they go bankrupt (and loose by default) or sign a deal, and inventions that are already common knowledge are being bottled up under similar threats until they are well past their useful life.

    Its absolutely shameful, and it has to end.

    I'm through ranting now.

  • The patent seems to be an implementation of an idea that I first saw in this Jan 1997 Hotwired article [hotwired.com]. Note that the article predates the filing of the patent. Since the article doesn't describe a specific implementation, I have no idea how it relates to their filing WRT "prior art". It certainly seems like they didn't think of the idea.

    I dunno, it seems like their implementation is pretty obvious to anybody who's read the article. Any patent experts care to educate on how this works?

    Interestingly, I read the hotwired article when it came out, and now, nearly 3 years later, I've been thinking of doing some x-mas break hacking to throw together a generic implementation of this very thing! It would have been GPL'ed. Anyone know how different the implementation would have to be to avoid hassles?

    This is a perfect example of the "chilling effect" of software patents. As a grad student, I definitely don't have the resources to defend myself against a legal attack from Intel!

    J.

  • I'll agree on doing away with software patents. The rest of it is fine the way it is. First-to-file is inherently unfair. The one who comes up with an idea first, even if it takes him longer to reduce it to a patentable state, should be the one who gets to benefit from it. The risk of falsified invention dates is offset by the lack of benefit of industrial espionage - something the Europeans are very good at. Same thing with patenting ideas that someone else has disclosed: if you invent it first, you get to benefit from it.
    --
  • Oh, and one other note: changes in the patent system in the US cannot be made retroactive in any way that would result in doing away with existing patents. That would be a government taking of private property, and would require just compensation. How would YOU define just compensation? ...and no, zero dollars will not fly. A patent is a thing of value, and the US Constitution prohibits the government from taking or destroying anything of value without compensating the owner for the full value of the loss. Even if it were possible to do so, the resulting litigation would take decades to resolve.

    I don't expect the Europeans to understand this concept, but it's very real, and very important, to us Americans.
    --
  • A system executes computer processing tasks on a remote computer that communicates with a central computer. The remote computer receives a start message from the central computer. Based on the start message, the remote computer processes raw data to generate processed data, and stores the processed data. Finally, the remote computer sends a complete message to the central computer.

    What the hell is this? I can actually understand what the abstact is talking about.. ;-) I thought all patents were ununderstandble jibberish that a normal person could not comprehend. Just read any Transmeta patent and you know exactly what I mean.

  • Looks a lot like PVM, doesn't it.

    peter
  • I agree, but I'm not so sure Intel does much with their microprocessors anymore at all. It seems to me that other manufacturers make better x86 chips than they do (eg., AMD's Athalon vs. Intel's PIII). Moreover, I think the x86 architecture itself should have been dead and gone a decade ago; it's about damn time everyone started using a processor with a streamlined instruction set that runs cool enough not to need a fan. Processors with better architectures run at lower clock speeds, use less energy, and do the same job faster. That's the reality of microprocessor design now, and Intel engineers know it.

    The problem is that Intel's current success is based on millions of lines of legacy code attributed to thousands of developers who write for the hundreds of millions of users who are still using obsolete technology. The operating system monopoly for IA processors basically controls what Intel can and can't do, and it always has. Why is there *any* reason for a Pentium to think it's an 8088 before you tell it otherwise? Because the predominant operating system of the day of the i386, MS-DOS, was written for the 8088, and porting it would have screwed up lots of software for MS, hence they would lose money. So Intel compensated to save their business.

    No matter what Intel does with the IA64 or Merced, they will still be subject to the IA OS monopoly. I don't think they plan to do much real engineering. They just need to up clock speeds every once in a while and advertise to the masses. This patent is an attempt to sidestep distributed computing en masse as it would probably first occur; the VNA itself is old news, and Intel knows it. They want to hang on to all the dead weight that is IA for as long as possible and maximize profit. That's what this is about.

  • I had the impression that P1's "consciousness" generally only ran on a single processing host at a time. Then again, the author may have been deliberately vague on that point.

  • 1. PBS (portable batch system): pbs.mrj.com
    (It's just a job queueing program, no need to slashdot these guys, but it does everything I saw in that patent minus the not-quite-so-willing participant bit.)
    2. NQS/DQS/... (similar programs).
    3. GNU Queue

    So, let's see (it takes a while before we
    even need the queue programs):


    (a) receiving a start message at the remote computer from the central computer at a time that the central computer has predetermined the remote computer will be available for processing one of said first set of processing tasks;


    crond plus rsh


    (b) processing raw data related to said first set of processing tasks to generate processed data;

    (c) storing the processed data; and

    (d) sending a complete message to the central computer.



    covered by rsh.


    2. The method of claim 1, wherein the remote computer communicates with the central computer over a Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol based network.

    3. The method of claim 1, wherein the remote computer communicates with the central computer over a local area network.


    Still rsh territory.


    4. The method of claim 1, wherein the start message comprises a task and a storage location of the raw data, further comprising the step of retrieving the raw data.


    An rsh command with an argument referring
    to a file served over NFS/AFS?


    5. The method of claim 1, wherein the start message comprises a task and the raw data, and the raw data is processed in accordance with the task.


    An rsh command where the data are in ARGV?
    (data isn't dammit, data are)


    6. The method of claim 1, wherein the complete message comprises a storage location of the processed data.


    So the program spits an output filename to STDOUT.


    7. The method of claim 1, wherein the complete message comprises the processed data.


    So the program spits its output to STDOUT,
    which is linked over rsh to the server.


    8. The method of claim 1, wherein a plurality of server computers communicate with the remote computer and the central computer, further comprising the step of retrieving the raw data from one of the plurality of server computers.


    Oooh, now we need rsh and rcp (or NFS. Where I work we use a queue that calls ssh together with NFS all the time, using several servers).


    9. The method of claim 1, wherein a plurality of server computers communicate with the remote computer and the central computer, step (c) comprising the step of: (c-1) storing the processed data on one of the plurality of server computers.


    And we write to those NFS servers.


    10. [snipped for brevity]


    Putting it all together is easy with PBS.
    So finally we come to need it.

  • It looks to me that what Intel is claiming here (processes starting at a time determined by the central computer, etc.) is *not* distributed computed a la SETI@home, but rather, the idea of an Internet worm that steals CPU time.

    Didn't Robert Morris provide a demonstration of this in 1988 or so? I don't suppose he had a chance to patent his techniques before they copped him.

  • rexec
  • by JoeShmoe ( 90109 ) <askjoeshmoe@hotmail.com> on Saturday November 27, 1999 @01:47AM (#1501771)
    1) Read SlashDot regularly

    2) Find a good idea (hint: watch the little numbers...good ideas have 4's and 5's!)

    3) Run, don't walk, down to the patent office and file for a patent on that idea (be sure to use key patent terms like "process", "method" and "system" to make it as broad as possible).

    4) Wait six to ten months for the patent office to stare cluelessly at the patent and eventually give up on "seeking prior art" (patent employees do not read SlashDot...lucky for you!)

    5) Take fresh patent and go beat several companies over the head with it. As long as the amount you demand is less than the cost of defense, you'll get paid.

    6) Repeat as necessary.

    - JoeShmoe

    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
  • A system executes computer processing tasks on a remote computer that communicates with a central computer. The remote computer receives a start message from the central computer. Based on the start message, the remote computer processes raw data to generate processed data, and stores the processed data. Finally, Bruce Perins sues Corel.

    ;)

  • This patent is on _remote_ systems networked to process large computations... but what about _local_ systems?

    I.e. does anyone have the patent on Beowulf clustering? Theoretically, NASA should, since they built the first one, and ergo should be public domain... but one never knows, do they?
  • by GnrcMan ( 53534 ) on Saturday November 27, 1999 @02:01AM (#1501774) Homepage
    Since my submission got cut to a one line quote (sniff, it's okay) I thought I'd give some more details:

    I'll start with a quote from the patent itself:
    Service providers, such as American Online.TM. ("AOL") and Compuserve increasingly must buy more powerful computers to service the additional members and the new content that is
    constantly being updated. These service providers could save on computer costs if some of the computational requirements of their system could be serviced by remote personal computers
    owned by private individuals and other independent entities who subscribe to the Internet provider services.


    While it's true that this patent relates to distributed computing, that's not what this is about. What they've really got here is a patent on a method of stealing subscribers CPU cycles. Better check out the ToS when you sign up with an ISP cause, guess what? If this idea comes to be, you might just be required to do some of the processing for your ISP. Another quote to illustrate exactly what they're looking to process:
    Computers, including
    servers, must perform many tasks including the providing and generating of WEB pages, compressing Moving Pictures Expert Group ("MPEG") and Joint Photographic Expert Group
    ("JPEG") images, and serving up WEB pages.


    Everyone who wants to serve AOL's web pages for them, raise your hand. Everyone who feels comfortable letting AOL initiate processes, raise your hand.

    --GnrcMan--
  • I suppose that it could, if you read the patent itself you saw that not only do they specify tcp/ip over the internet but over the lan as well. The way it was worded, does this mean that the same type of operation over non- tcp/ip networks does not fall under the patent?
  • ...can't be patented.
  • Isn't this slightly different from SETI@home, Distributed.net, and all the others?
    Using networked remote computers to execute computer processing tasks at a predetermined time.

    --

  • Or, say, Scheduled Tasks in the Tivoli Management Environment? In TME, the Endpoint receives a start message from the TMR Server. This start message contains the command to be run, and optionally arguments to the command and the command binaries. When completed, the Endpoint sends a message to the Server including the output from the Task.

    Tivoli has been doing this since at least 1995. Since IBM owns Tivoli, this could get very interesting.
  • by loki7 ( 11496 ) on Saturday November 27, 1999 @06:27AM (#1501782) Homepage
    I agree that first-to-file is inherently unfair, but I don't that basing it on invention date is entirely fair, either. If two individuals or companies apply for patents on the same invention within a short time period neither of them deserves the patent.

    In this situation the governemt arbitrarily picks one of the inventors as the sole beneficiary of the invention. Regardless of how the winner is chosen, it is inherently unfair. One of the goals of the patent system is to encourage inventors to publish their techniques so that the benefits of the invention can be shared by the whole world after a time. But in this case there is no need since it would have already been demonstrated that the invention can be independently reproduced.

    /peter

  • From the original AC:

    And I will add... suppose someone else is doing
    something that may be illegal - like downloading
    child porn - and its getting decompressed on
    *your* machine - with traces of it stored there...
    ditto for copyright violations with music and
    movie video content...
  • Instead, here's my idea, published in it's under-developed entirety, and placed in the public domain.

    *********

    Using networked remote computers to execute computer processing tasks,such tasks either done without charge, or at negotiated fee, at times signaled byeither the remote computer or the central computer.

    Abstract

    A system executes computer processing tasks on a remote computer that communicates with a central computer. The remote computer sends a message of availability to the central computer, or the central computer may send out a signal requesting processing time. Following the initial contact message, the central computer may negotiate a fee with the remote computer for processing time. If negotiation is successful, the central computer sends a task and possibly the associated raw data to the remote computer. The remote computer generates processed data, and stores the processed data. Finally, the remote computer sends a complete message to the central computer, and the processed data is returned to the central computer if that is required.

    **********

    This differs from both the Intel patent and the current implementation of distributed.net and Seti@Home. The premise here is that the processor time of my system will have value to some other organization, let's say my ISP, but that value is variable based upon both the loading on my system, my preferences and the load on the ISP. Should my system be busy serving content directly when the ISP needs my processor's services, a higher micro-payment will be negotiated. When, on the other hand, my computer signals availability, and the ISP's load is relatively low, a lower micro-payment would be appropriate.

    Clearly, this is not just a LAN implementation, although it could be. It would imply persistent connections (such as this DSL line), and could possibly be a method of funding part of the expense of a persistent connection. It does allow me to offer my computer's services for free to some effort like Seti@Home, while selling my processor time to an ISP or other content provider, as appropriate.

  • I hadn't run across Hydra, but I'm not surprised to hear of it.

  • by doogieh ( 37062 ) on Saturday November 27, 1999 @02:20AM (#1501800) Homepage
    Fed up with bad patents, I think we should set up a open site to collect prior art against crazy patents and publicly post it all.

    This can be done still avoiding legal problems; I've been thinking about this and working on it for some time. If anyone is interested in helping, on the legal or technical end, contact me at the address above.

  • by GnrcMan ( 53534 ) on Saturday November 27, 1999 @02:45AM (#1501803) Homepage
    They (as IBM and other technology giants) have literaly hundred of thousand of patents for which they don't claim third parties fees.

    That's all well and good until they try to pull a Unisys and claim royalties on a firmly entrenched standard. That is why frivolous patents are worrisome.

    --GnrcMan--
  • There are a few bits in there that mean afaik it won't affect the work of Seti@home, distributed.net etc.

    The remote computer receives a start message from the central computer.

    But with Seti@home and the others, it's the remote computer that sends 'a start message' to the central computer, asking for data to be processed.

    receiving a start message (...) at a time that the central computer has predetermined the remote computer will be available

    Seti etc. don't run at predetermined times 'that the central computer has predetermined', but whenever the computer has some spare cycles.
    I don't see this affecting any current efforts like those mentioned, but IANAL, so who knows how it could be twisted to mean if the lawyers/Intel so wanted :/
  • If a ISP did that you could launch some very nasty attacks against their network by sending them back bad data.

    Well, you could have other customers verify each other. The same problem occurs in networked games, people can forge calculation so client-side calculations have to verified by the central server or by another client. If the client base is large enough then it's difficult to do collaborative "cheating".

    The other problem occurs is if the ISP's data is confidential AND the customer has to have access to it to process it. I did some work on this last year ago using "crypographic computing" to solve this problem. Basically you use the ideas of permutation and rotation to encrypt both the executing program and the required data. The client machine runs a VM that is capable of executing the encrypted instructions. Actually each instruction becomes a tree of instructions that calculate the same result. Trees from neighboring instructions can be woven together as long as data-dependencies are observed. Because you are using encrypted data, operations like "add/mul" won't work in their native form. They would have to decrypt 2 numbers before they could be multiplied together. This would give away the data, so instead you have to develop a cryptographic add/multiply function than can work with numbers in their encrypted form.

    Advantages:
    - the client doesn't know what he/she is executing
    - the client doesn't know what data he/she is processing
    - both the program and data can have MACs to prevent tampering of either.

    Disadvantages:
    - Memory usage can grow exponentially with the number of instructions executed
    - Encryption / Decryption of program data is much more expensive than processing itself. Decryption time can grow by the number of instructions executed, because some operation cannot operate on encrypted data.

    Although it's an interesting academic problem, it has little real world use because of speed and memory issues. But, it has lead me to my current project which is very useful.
  • Intel does 2 things very well.

    1) Make processors fast

    2) Make processors faster

    These two things are very important to the business model Intel currently enjoys. Deciding *when* #2 takes place is very important the bottom line.

    Imagine, if you will, Microsoft adding code into the operating system that uses the distributed approach described in the patent. This, effectively puts the control over how fast a users computer appears to run for the user, in another companies hands (thus breaking rule #2). Plus, Intel has no interest on thousands of Merceds biting into the slice of server sales. So this is defensive. Take out the patent, sit on it, and defend it in court.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 27, 1999 @03:19AM (#1501822)
    I don't care much for software patents and I had my visa card handy this morning. gnupatent.org has been registered. Although its in my name for the moment I declare this domain to be property of the free software development community. There are already some web sites out there dedicated to this sort of thing - openpatents.org, freepatents.org, etc, and perhaps I just wasted $70 to set up something that already exists. If this is the case someone please educate us about the 'existing art' in this area :-) I will suggest that the following be the starting point for discussions regarding a charter. "gnupatent.org exists as a repository for software patents that belong to free software developers. all contributed patents are free for use in any GPL software." I think there are probably a lot of people who'd like to contribute to free software in some fashion but don't have the coding skills necessary to get involved. I propose we should form a group of 'patentors' (sp?) with the purpose of documenting & submitting for patent process any innovation found in GPL software. I envision a person in this role attached to each major project submitting patents. Hopefully there will be a few patent attorneys out there who are willing to help or already working on such things. Its now 8:13 central time and I think www.gnupatent.org will be point at www.gnu.org and gnupatent@gnupatent.org will be a valid address around 9:00 CST. If you're a wannabe patent hacker drop me a note and we'll get organized. Volunteers who knows how to run a list server and an attorney to help with the 'how to submit a software patent' FAQ would be most welcome. And let me restate that if this sort of effort already exists, is offensive to free software developers for some reason I can't fathom yet, etc, please educate me :-) I can be reached at nealr@optimumdata.com.
  • Which surely says that we should be opposing the patents system not Intel here?

    Yes, there are some bad faith patent enforcements out there, with LZW & GIF being probably the best known example. But the real problem is surely not that they've got the patent, but that the legal system made the patent possible and so effectively required them to at least try for their own protection?

    Standard disclaimer in this sort of thing - I'm British and have no idea what the patent situation is over here. And I accept that I'm discussing matters in a jurisdiction which doesn't affect me, to stop potential flames.

    Greg

The only difference between a car salesman and a computer salesman is that the car salesman knows he's lying.

Working...