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IBM Files Patent for Putting Fire Extinguisher in a Computer

By - Source: USPTO | B 40 comments

We're not exactly sure how often a true and dangerous fire develops within a computer case. However, just in case (Ed. note: hah), IBM has invented a fire-suppression system that will conveniently and automatically extinguish flames inside your computer.

A patent filed in May 2010 describes a system that includes a cartridge of extinguishing agents comprised of carbon dioxide and halon, which will be released on the processor and certain portions on the mainboard while the power supply is disabled at the same time. The system also includes an infrared light-based flame detector.

IBM said that computers, which we are told are much more complex than the EDVAC from 1948, often short circuit, causing small fires in the computer--especially blade servers. Since a power supply will continue to supply electricity until it is taken out, IBM says that "depending on the location of the short on the system board, a fire can result until either the high impedance short opens completely or shorts completely, at which point the power supply over-current detection circuit shuts the power supply down."

The company's application goes on to note that "such small fires in a server or other computer often do not produce enough smoke to set off a smoke detector until the fire has spread to the point of endangering other servers and computers."

IBM's idea to extinguish a possibly dangerous fire is pretty simple: A fire detector would detect flames, shut the power supply off and puncture a hole into the "stored pressure unit containing the extinguishing agent."

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Top Comments
  • 24 Hide
    back_by_demand , November 28, 2011 11:25 AM
    "You can't go in there, the fire set off the Halon system!"
    ...
  • 21 Hide
    back_by_demand , November 28, 2011 11:42 AM
    CaedenVlol, like a fire extinguisher is going to help with an electrical fire

    Err, yeah? CO2 and Halon?
  • 15 Hide
    nieur , November 28, 2011 11:26 AM
    now thats lesson for apple
    patent the things which are really innovative
Other Comments
  • 24 Hide
    back_by_demand , November 28, 2011 11:25 AM
    "You can't go in there, the fire set off the Halon system!"
    ...
  • 6 Hide
    southernshark , November 28, 2011 11:25 AM
    Think of all the children whose lives will be saved......
  • 8 Hide
    amigafan , November 28, 2011 11:26 AM
    They are probably planning on offering special overclocked configurations based on Bulldozer :D 
  • 15 Hide
    nieur , November 28, 2011 11:26 AM
    now thats lesson for apple
    patent the things which are really innovative
  • 11 Hide
    jimmy-bee , November 28, 2011 11:34 AM
    The patent system is broken and if you dig deep I bet you will find it is corrupted.
  • 11 Hide
    lassik , November 28, 2011 11:39 AM
    What's wrong with the BIOS shutdown temp we have now?
  • 21 Hide
    back_by_demand , November 28, 2011 11:42 AM
    CaedenVlol, like a fire extinguisher is going to help with an electrical fire

    Err, yeah? CO2 and Halon?
  • 10 Hide
    memadmax , November 28, 2011 11:44 AM
    There's nothing wrong with being safe, fire is no joke.
    However, this may be a bit overkill.
    One of the things that the Navy taught me about class charlie(electrical) fires, is that the fire is "out" when the power is secured.
    Now, with that being said, as was noted in this article, the powersupply in a computer will detect a short condition and secure power on its own.
    Installing a potentially expensive fire suppression system in a computer that already has safeguards against electrical fires sounds like a gimmick to me.
  • 11 Hide
    chickenhoagie , November 28, 2011 11:46 AM
    CaedenVlol, like a fire extinguisher is going to help with an electrical fire

    sarcasm or...stupidity?..Orrr am I really that stupid?
  • 5 Hide
    steelbox , November 28, 2011 11:46 AM
    You know, the secure deid of old age. Precaution is never enough specially in an cluster comprised of thousands blade servers worth millions.
  • -4 Hide
    jiyung , November 28, 2011 11:47 AM
    Yay, more silly patents!
  • 1 Hide
    jlight27 , November 28, 2011 11:50 AM
    @back_by_demand...I gave you a plus thumbs up...is that from Terminator 2??? It looks like it and that is funny to me...IBM is Skynet!!!
  • 1 Hide
    alidan , November 28, 2011 11:52 AM
    back_by_demandErr, yeah? CO2 and Halon?

    because the bios doesn't see every part of the board with a temp reading i believe.

    my old p4 computer could boot after a short, it would go till the processor hit about 100c than shut down again. im assumeing that some shorts wont cause an os fail, but still heat up to the point a fire can start, at least in server applications, in home... the psu is the place a fire will likely start.

    memadmaxThere's nothing wrong with being safe, fire is no joke.However, this may be a bit overkill.One of the things that the Navy taught me about class charlie(electrical) fires, is that the fire is "out" when the power is secured.Now, with that being said, as was noted in this article, the powersupply in a computer will detect a short condition and secure power on its own.Installing a potentially expensive fire suppression system in a computer that already has safeguards against electrical fires sounds like a gimmick to me.


    the psu isnt seeing everything at once, and a short doesn't mean that it is also over drawing enough power to trip the censor. otherwise, it would have to many false trips to be useful as a function, psus stop when they either fail themselves (you hope, had that happen to me in a big snap and puff of black smoke) or when a part of the computer royally screws up.
  • 5 Hide
    nforce4max , November 28, 2011 12:00 PM
    jimmy-beeThe patent system is broken and if you dig deep I bet you will find it is corrupted.


    That is correct, one can patent any thing and every thing except for a full birth human being.
  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , November 28, 2011 12:20 PM
    alidanbecause the bios doesn't see every part of the board with a temp reading i believe. my old p4 computer could boot after a short, it would go till the processor hit about 100c than shut down again. im assumeing that some shorts wont cause an os fail, but still heat up to the point a fire can start, at least in server applications, in home... the psu is the place a fire will likely start.
    the psu isnt seeing everything at once, and a short doesn't mean that it is also over drawing enough power to trip the censor. otherwise, it would have to many false trips to be useful as a function, psus stop when they either fail themselves (you hope, had that happen to me in a big snap and puff of black smoke) or when a part of the computer royally screws up.

    According to the story, it has an infrared flame sensor and a cartridge of fire supressant gas, there is no indication that is linked to the BIOS in anyway, a self-contained item.
  • -3 Hide
    maigo , November 28, 2011 12:28 PM
    Halon isn't good for you nor is it good for the ozone.
  • 1 Hide
    cookoy , November 28, 2011 12:36 PM
    future computer accessories will include a gas mask and you get an option to choose the standard white smoke or green, yellow, blue or red smoke to match your LED lights
  • 12 Hide
    rawful , November 28, 2011 12:43 PM
    maigoHalon isn't good for you nor is it good for the ozone.

    Fire isn't good for you, nor is it good for the ozone.
  • 2 Hide
    bin1127 , November 28, 2011 1:57 PM
    Personally I think IBM are just preparing to upgrade their graphic cards.
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