China sinks first modules of 68,000-square-meter underwater data center

midian182

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In brief: China has sunk the first modules of what it says is the world's first underwater commercial data center. These are the first of more than 100 cylindrical modules that will be lowered around 115 feet onto the bottom of the sea, a journey that takes three hours to complete. The structure will ultimately offer the performance of around 60,000 computers working in unison.

The Hainan Undersea Data Center Demonstration Development Project involves more than 100 units, which will span almost 68,000 square meters, being sunk off the Hainan island. Each module is designed with a lifespan of 25 years and weighs 1,300 tons.

No details about the hardware have been released, though CCTV says each data storage unit can process more than four million high-definition images in 30 seconds.

Placing data centers underwater is an expensive and difficult process, but it comes with plenty of environmental advantages. In addition to not taking up 68,000 square meters of land, the cold seawater will save 122 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and 105,000 tons of freshwater annually. The location also provides a dust-free, oxygen-free environment that can protect electronics and help reduce faults.

As reported by Global China Daily, Pu Ding, the general manager of the UDC Hainan pilot development project, said that the completed data center would be between 40% and 60% more power efficient than those built on land.

The center uses sea cables to connect the modules to a shore station, where subsystems such as power distribution and networking equipment are located. It's from here that staff can watch the modules and ensure everything is working okay using an underwater monitoring system.

Announced in the first quarter of 2021, the Hainan project has an estimated completion date of Q2 2025. Not surprisingly, its total cost is a high one: $879 million.

This isn't the first time a data center has been placed underwater. Microsoft did the same thing with Project Natick, which was launched in 2014 and first trialled a year later off the coast of California. The company also submerged a data center off the coast of Scotland in 2018, ending that experiment two years later. It found the underwater data center to be eight times more reliable than a duplicate setup deployed on land.

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Oh right, this won’t add to the global warming woes right? When part of the sea is meant to be cold, adding something hot to it gradually will ultimately heat up. Sustainable? I doubt it.

I'm no scientist, but I doubt these 100 cylinders dropped at the bottom of the sea will cause much in the way of heating the ocean. At least nothing compared to running clean room-equivalent air conditioning 24/7, which will certainly draw power from coal-powered electrical stations and pump carbon into the atmosphere.

If the cooling is passive (I.e. the components are being cooled down by the flow of water around it) then that's already eliminating a huge inefficiency in data center cooling.

If it's NOT passive, then this is just a PR stunt because there's maintenance that will require hoisting out nodes and servicing them on a high-tech dry dock, then dunking them back in. Heavy equipment, time and money.
 
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Oh right, this won’t add to the global warming woes right? When part of the sea is meant to be cold, adding something hot to it gradually will ultimately heat up. Sustainable? I doubt it.
>lowers power use 60%
>wah muh global warming

Reddit-tier thinking right here. Do you not realize how BIG the oceans are? And how much energy goes into heating up that much water? And did you miss the 40-60% energy reduction?
 
>lowers power use 60%
>wah muh global warming

Reddit-tier thinking right here. Do you not realize how BIG the oceans are? And how much energy goes into heating up that much water? And did you miss the 40-60% energy reduction?
Lower power usage from no active cooling in air conditioned room. Why is it so surprising? It is true that the ocean is huge, but somethings are left untouched. Once people start thinking that this sounds like a great idea, they are going to start expanding on that supposed great idea and that’s where things start falling apart. You seriously think they are going to drop a bunch of computers under water and call it a day? I doubt that. Companies are basically trying to save money at the expense of the environment. The pitch of efficiency is just fluff to make it sound justifiable.
 
I'm no scientist, but I doubt these 100 cylinders dropped at the bottom of the sea will cause much in the way of heating the ocean. At least nothing compared to running clean room-equivalent air conditioning 24/7, which will certainly draw power from coal-powered electrical stations and pump carbon into the atmosphere.

If the cooling is passive (I.e. the components are being cooled down by the flow of water around it) then that's already eliminating a huge inefficiency in data center cooling.

If it's NOT passive, then this is just a PR stunt because there's maintenance that will require hoisting out nodes and servicing them on a high-tech dry dock, then dunking them back in. Heavy equipment, time and money.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not picking on the number that is being dropped in the ocean here. The problem is once they start doing this and in scale to make it more economical, it won’t be long you will see more data Centers being built under the sea. When did you see any corporate that will say that while there is cost savings, but I will put a stop because of the environment. Just for them to pay less on cooling their equipments and passing it on to the environment don’t sound right to me. And in time, do you think these corporates will pass on the savings to their clients? I doubt that.
 
Lower power usage from no active cooling in air conditioned room. Why is it so surprising? It is true that the ocean is huge, but somethings are left untouched. Once people start thinking that this sounds like a great idea, they are going to start expanding on that supposed great idea and that’s where things start falling apart. You seriously think they are going to drop a bunch of computers under water and call it a day? I doubt that. Companies are basically trying to save money at the expense of the environment. The pitch of efficiency is just fluff to make it sound justifiable.
That efficiency is to fight the global warming you are so worried about. Why you think it is fluff is beyond me, reduced power usage is reduced power usage.

Are you suggesting that burning more energy, which makes more CO2, which warms the oceans, is preferable?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not picking on the number that is being dropped in the ocean here. The problem is once they start doing this and in scale to make it more economical, it won’t be long you will see more data Centers being built under the sea. When did you see any corporate that will say that while there is cost savings, but I will put a stop because of the environment. Just for them to pay less on cooling their equipments and passing it on to the environment don’t sound right to me. And in time, do you think these corporates will pass on the savings to their clients? I doubt that.
Again, do you not understand how BIG the ocean is? How much energy it takes to raise the temp of that much water? how TINY the worlds datacenters are in comparison? Do you have any other solution then whining about innovation?
 
Really shocking how little understanding a certain someone here has.
The oceans are unbelievably massive. Water is the most cost/environment efficient cooling solution, period. This is way better than running AC on air.
This is a reduction in overall power and water use (which has its own power and emissions cost to deliver it).
This is a reduction in waste from hardware failures.
Since these are contained, this is a reduction in land usage and pollution.
 
It doesn't take much temperature change of an area to devastate the local underwater ecology of that area. Coral is a terrific example. Although coral would unlikely be found at the depths this particular project will be at, the concept is still the same. Underwater ecology is more fragile than people think, and once an area becomes corrupted, it spreads outward (think radiation zone, just instead it's in terms of food sources).

The larger concern of most articles I've read relating to changing climate is the ocean temperature. Our planet is mostly made up of ocean. If we start directly altering the temperature of the ocean (regardless of the perceived overall effect), I'd offer cause for concern, especially when these projects are long-lived.

There are other options, too, such as geothermal. I like that companies are looking for alternative solutions. Geothermal can also be concerning for some since we're digging deep into the earth's upper layer with unknown results. Time will tell how good or bad these decisions are/were, overall.

Check TheVerge's article about "Google Data Center Geothermal Energy" from 7 days ago for the geothermal powered data center plants.
 
Obviously China copied it from Microsoft.... Opinion of the majority of posters on this site...!
 
It doesn't take much temperature change of an area to devastate the local underwater ecology of that area. Coral is a terrific example. Although coral would unlikely be found at the depths this particular project will be at, the concept is still the same. Underwater ecology is more fragile than people think, and once an area becomes corrupted, it spreads outward (think radiation zone, just instead it's in terms of food sources).

The larger concern of most articles I've read relating to changing climate is the ocean temperature. Our planet is mostly made up of ocean. If we start directly altering the temperature of the ocean (regardless of the perceived overall effect), I'd offer cause for concern, especially when these projects are long-lived.

There are other options, too, such as geothermal. I like that companies are looking for alternative solutions. Geothermal can also be concerning for some since we're digging deep into the earth's upper layer with unknown results. Time will tell how good or bad these decisions are/were, overall.

Check TheVerge's article about "Google Data Center Geothermal Energy" from 7 days ago for the geothermal powered data center plants.
TBH I just assume China has killed all the underwater fauna and flora in the area simply by existing.

My only real question about this project is why they chose to drop them around Hainan. The island is surrounded by very warm waters (29/30C) in a tropical environment. Does that minimize the difficulty in operating underwater? Or the heat impact on the local fauna? Wouldn't it be more effective to drop them in colder waters (much like Microsoft did with Project Natick)?

 
This is interesting, wonder sea water corrosion will affect the structure and cables in few years
 
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