A Chinese newspaper has reported that China has embarked on an innovative project to create its latest and largest data center, placing it underwater.
The installation of these massive server farm units beneath the ocean may not be an easy task, but it comes with two key benefits:
Firstly, it easily provides the required space. The plan appears to involve placing 100 of these data center blocks in their designated locations by 2025, occupying approximately 68,000 square meters of building space.
This is roughly equivalent to the space of 13 football fields. The surface-level rooms that will be freed up can be repurposed for other uses or left as they are, while the data centers will be located 35 meters below the waves.
Secondly, seawater acts as a natural coolant, maintaining lower temperatures around busy data centers.
Estimates suggest that approximately 122 million kilowatt-hours of electricity can be saved annually, which is equivalent to the average electricity usage of 160,000 Chinese citizens.
These are the benefits, but installing these 1,300-ton units underwater is no easy feat. They must be built to withstand the pressure and corrosion from seawater, and it is not entirely clear how these massive blocks of electronics will impact the marine ecosystems they are placed in.
It's worth noting that each unit provides enough processing power to handle 4 million high-definition images every 30 seconds, equivalent to 60,000 personal computers.
The idea isn't entirely new; Microsoft was testing the concept of underwater data centers back in 2016.
However, logistical concerns made it challenging to make the numbers work. According to a report in China Daily, this is the first commercial underwater data center.
The Hainan Data Center Under the Sea is the result of a partnership between the government and private companies and is located off the coast of Sanya in China's Hainan province.
Each data center is designed to last 25 years, so it will be some time before there's a need to replace these units.