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Is Google Developing A Floating Data Center Powered With Wave Power?


At a former Navy base in San Francisco Bay, something large and secret is being built, and it looks to be the work of Google.

CNET has reported that Google has not yet responded to multiple requests for comment about the four-storey structure under construction, but their investigations have revealed that “it’s all but certain” that Google is behind the highly visible but secret development. The floating barge, which is guarded by private security, is apparently 250 feet (76 meters) long, 72 feet (22 meters) wide, and 16 feet (4 meters) deep. There are multiple shipping containers on the barge, which could house electronic equipment.

The main speculation is that it is in fact a floating data center, as Google was granted a patent for this back in 2009. A floating data center would allow easy access to seawater as a source of cooling, and to waves or tides as a source of renewable energy. Further, placing data centers in shipping containers is already reasonably commonplace. Companies such as Microsoft, Dell, and HP have been using shipping containers for easily deployed data centers for a while.

Google’s 2009 patent was granted for a “water-based data center”. The patent describes a system that has a floating platform-mounted computer data center, a sea-based electrical generator connected to computing units, and seawater cooling for the computing units.

If this is in fact a floating data center Google is building, it’s going to be very interesting to see how it turns out. Part of the beauty of an innovative system like this, apart form the natural cooling method and renewable energy usage, is of course that it could be moved to different locations as demanded.

Do you think it’s a good idea to build floating data centers running on ocean-based renewable energy?

Image: US Patent Office

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