Google believed to be constructing a floating data center in San Francisco Bay

By on October 27, 2013, 9:00 AM
google, san francisco, water cooling, data center, architecture

A barge afloat in the San Francisco bay just off the shore from Treasure Island is home to something the locals refer to simply as the secret project. The mysterious four-story tall building that sits on top of the barge was built from shipping containers and if CNET’s investigative team is correct, it could be a massive floating data center owned by Google.

Maintaining a data center requires a large amount of cooling to keep the servers at safe operating temperatures. By building a data center on a barge, the servers could easily and cheaply be cooled by the surrounding water. Saltwater could potentially be problematic but it’s not an insurmountable endeavor.

What’s more, building data centers inside of shipping containers isn’t out of the norm. Companies like Dell, HP, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems have been doing so for a while now simply because such setups are easy to deploy.

Perhaps the most damning evidence is the fact that Google was granted a patent for a water-based data center back in 2009. Specifically, the patent covered a floating platform-mounted data center with a sea-based electrical generator and sea-water cooling units. That sounds like a pretty solid fit of what’s likely going on in the San Francisco bay.

The publication dug up a wealth of evidence which pointed towards the search giant as the entity behind the project but for the sake of brevity, I won’t go into everything they found. If you’re interested in learning more, be sure to pop over and check out their article.




User Comments: 13

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2 people like this | ikesmasher said:

Its going to raise the temperature of the sea water! melt the icecaps! raise the sea level! flood the land! apocalypse! apocalypse!

JC713 JC713 said:

This will be pretty cool if it is what it people speculate it to be.

Ranger1st Ranger1st said:

Really a patent for that?? no wonder the US is so FUBAR with it's tech R&D.

Guest said:

Probably some Internet lines for the NSA to cut into there. :p

Guest said:

If only I could have patented a land based unit for human living hundreds of years ago I would be rich! This worlds tech innovation is going to grind to a crawl if silly patents and copyrights are upheld.

Khanonate said:

The US Navy should sue Google for that absurd patent. They have the sea based electrical generator, sea-water cooling units and platform mounted data-center when Google's founders are still in diapers!

On a side note, the patent office should be sequestered.

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"Saltwater could potentially be problematic but it?s not an insurmountable endeavor." How about use two separate loops with a heat exchanger, a sealed loop containing non corrosive coolant and the saltwater side. At least on the bright side any time we see a floating data center we will know it's in some way linked to Google's original patent, because that's whats really important these days...

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

Sounds like they put some shipping containers to good use.

Othnir Othnir said:

Then when tsunami hits, google will be down for long

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Actually they entirely missed the major points:

- Google is now chaired by dolphins

- Seawater offers better data transfer rates than fibre

- It's mostly a Japanese fish processing plant in disguise

- The NSA have rented space below the moral waterline

- It's sometimes used as a party boat for Silk Road

- It's called the USS Kardashian as its mostly full of seamen

Nic Nic, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Now that's taking Tax Avoidance to the extreme...

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

The US Navy should sue Google for that absurd patent. They have the sea based electrical generator, sea-water cooling units and platform mounted data-center when Google's founders are still in diapers!

On a side note, the patent office should be sequestered.

The way Google acquires other companies I wouldn't be at all surprised if they bought out the US navy as well then they can't be sued.

MilwaukeeMike said:

By building a data center on a barge, the servers could easily and cheaply be cooled by the surrounding water.

They could accomplish the same thing by building it on land right next to the ocean. Building on the ocean gets it away from the very expensive land in the SF area, while keeping it near the Google headquarters. Building on the ocean also has the benefit of being completely earthquake proof.

The downsides are also high though. Commuting there would be a hassle, and it's going to take a rather long extension cord to plug in all those servers.

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