Search on the Seas: Google Water-Based Data Center Patent Granted

Imagine a fleet of sea-worthy vessels being able to deliver computing needs to people without having to send information cross country, but rather anchored on the seas nearby.

Now consider data centers on those ships being powered by the waves and cooled by the waters.

Google was granted a patent on a water-based data center today:

Water-based data center
Invented by Jimmy Clidaras, David W. Stiver, and William Hamburgen
Assigned to Google
Granted: April 28, 2009
Filed February 26, 2007


A system includes a floating platform-mounted computer data center comprising a plurality of computing units, a sea-based electrical generator in electrical connection with the plurality of computing units, and one or more sea-water cooling units for providing cooling to the plurality of computing units.

Some of the topics covered in the patent:

1) Wave powered generators such as Pelamis machines may power sea-based data centers and pumps to cool them.

2) Land-based data centers could also be used, taking energy from platforms floating on water.

3) The data centers might be contained in standard shipping containers, loaded aboard ships and connected to cooling and electrical systems aboard those ships. The ships may then be deployed to where they are needed. Google has previously been granted a patent for a Modular Data Center

4) The patent notes in closing that electricity could also be generated from other sources to power data centers, such as sea-based wind generator farms and power from river currents.

5) A patent application from 2008, under the Exaflop LLC name, describes a way of cooling data centers using warm water cooling. Exaflop is headquartered at the same address as Google, and has filed a number of patent applications involving data centers. This patent filing anticipates the possibility of data centers in modular containers aboard ships:

[0102] Alternatively, cooling water may be obtained out of the body of water in which the boats sit, such as when free cooling using deep lake cooling. In addition, generators on the boat or other sorts of power plants on the boats, may generate electricity for the data centers. In such situations, a boat may be anchored offshore, and may attach to an offshore data connection, such as an optical fiber connection.

In this manner, computing power may be easily projected geographically on short notice, and may be alternatively used at sea and on land as the need arises. For example, where a large event is expected to occur, or a large number of computer users is expected to congregate, near a port, such a data center may be supplied at the port.

Will Google start creating data centers that operate on seas and lakes, generating their own electricity and cooling their operations with the waves they float upon? It’s looking like a possibility.


Author: Bill Slawski

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