Google’s Floating Green (Water-Based) Data Center Patent

SlashDot has a post on the Google Navy.

theodp writes"Is Google preparing to launch its own Navy? In its just-published application for a patent on the Water-Based Data Center, Google envisions a world where 'computing centers are located on a ship or ships, which are then anchored in a water body from which energy from natural motion of the water may be captured, and turned into electricity and/or pumping power for cooling pumps to carry heat away from computers in the data center.' And you thought The Onion was joking when it reported on Google's Fleet of Naval Warships!"

DataCenterKnowledge’s Rich Miller adds more details for the data center crowd.

In a startling new take on data center engineering, Google has filed a patent for a “water-based data center” that uses the ocean to provide power and cooling. The patent also confirms Google’s development of a container-based data center, describing “crane-removable modules” to power the computing platforms.

The floating data centers would be located 3 to 7 miles from shore, in 50 to 70 meters of water. If perfected, this approach could be used to build 40 megawatt data centers that don’t require real estate or property taxes.

The patent filing says the data centers would be located 3 to 7 miles offshore, which may signal that Google’s interest in undersea cables goes beyond connectivity between land-based data centers. While the floating data centers would include power and cooling, they would still require industrial strength connectivity. Earlier this year Google said it would partner with five other companies in building an undersea communications cable across the Pacific, which could provide high-speed connectivity to new Google data centers in Asia.

Another alternative for power could be floating nuclear plants.

Russia is already building floating nuclear power plants for Arctic operations.

Given that we are already supposed to be facing the twin threats of terrorism and environmental meltdown, you might think the last thing the world needs is a fleet of floating nuclear power plants (NPPs). Russia disagrees, and confirmed this week that construction has started on the first of seven ships carrying a 70MW nuclear reactor. The ships will provide power to remote coastal towns, or be sold abroad, with 12 countries, including Algeria and Indonesia, said to have expressed interest.

But, keep in mind as some of the slashdot commentators, the sea is a harsh environment.

by Jaktar (975138) on Saturday September 06, @03:36PM (#24903267)

Having served on a Navy ship I can point out a few problems:

First, sea water temperatures vary greatly depending on the part of the world you're operating in. It's not uncommon for surface sea water temps to be in the 85F(30C)+ range for most areas where you're likely to moor a ship. The AC units that we used were barely able to keep the small server room that I ran cool under those conditions.

Second, the motion of the ship caused premature drive failures due to the pitch and roll of the ship. This could be alleviated with solid state drives, but that's a bit off for a data center at the moment.

Lastly, bandwidth and latency are problematic. Sure, Google could just buy a satellite, but they can't modify the 2000ms latency. Depending on ship size and sea conditions, keeping a satellite lock may be an issue as well due to roll.

All I can really say to Google is, good luck with all that!

Keep in mind this could be a defensive patent and not an actual intent for Google to build data centers at sea.