Google Floats A Data Center Patent: Offshore, Ocean-Cooled, Wave-Powered, And Modular

Google seems to be positioning for a Water World-like scenario. That's hyperbole to get your attention to what Google has designed in the way of offshore data centers (see patent application filing here). What's Google designing for a non-apocalyptic future? Imagine a barge (as pictured) holding modular groupings of water-cooled servers, with all of them gobbling power from tethered wave generators. Save for the linked generators, all the component parts are off-the-shelf technology, including the cargo containers which comprise the 'modules'. Not so fantastic really. Combining free server-cooling with green energy gives real efficiency gains.

Think on the other benefits. Steady, green hydro-power capacities are threatened by climate-change in many areas, limiting future prospects for buying commercial quantities of stable green power. Adds an option.

Why does Google want to put them so far offshore? See below for some answers.The design also offers freedom of choice for data-center siting. Put them where you need them, when you need them. (A very large slice of the worlds' population lives in coastal cities.)

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.
Via::Data Center Knowledge, Google Planning Offshore Data Barges.

Offshore waves, especially the sub surface "rollers" are quite steady and involve less turbulence than surface waves; and, the "data ship" being relatively far offshore would isolate it's generators from rip tides, tidal extremes, and traffic and anchor lines around busy harbor areas.

The self contained power sourcing would maintain operability in the event that political struggles or resource shortages threaten land-based power supplies. And did we mention that the power would be all green?

The modularity and flexibility of the proposal is a wonder.

From the patent application:-

Also, data centers, when in the form of shipping containers, may be quickly traded out when technology changes. Modularization also makes maintenance simpler; hardware that is corroded or worn out from the harsh salt water environment can be easily replaced with fresh hardware by swapping containers
In the event of a tropical storm, the ship would need to leave it's mooring and make for a safe harbor, where it would then perhaps reattach to the network and fire up diesel generators to run things until the storm has passed.

Would be an extreme bore to work on board, unless there were frequent shore junkets.

Otherwise, what's not to like?

Image credit:Bowcrest Commercial Barges, ACCOMMODATION BARGE - 91.40m x 27.40m

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