LONDON: Google is all set to extend its domination over cyberspace to the high seas, with the launch of its own “computer navy” -- a set of supercomputers necessary to operate its Internet search engines on barges anchored up to 11km offshore.
The “water-based data centres” would use wave energy to power and cool the computers. Their offshore status would also mean the company would no longer have to pay property taxes on its data centres sited across the world.
In the patent, Google writes, “Computing centres are located on a ship or ships, anchored in a water body from which energy from natural motion of the water may be captured, and turned into electricity and/or pumping power for cooling pumps to carry heat away.”
The increasing number of data centres necessary to cope with the massive information flows generated on the Web has made companies look at radical ideas to reduce their running costs.
The supercomputers housed in data centres, which can be the size of football pitches, use massive amounts of electricity to ensure they do not overheat. As a result, the Internet is not very Green. In fact, data centres consumed 1 per cent of the world’s electricity in 2005.
To address the problem, Microsoft has investigated building a data centre in the cold climes of Siberia; while in Japan, Sun Microsystems plans to send its computers down an abandoned coal mine, using water from the ground as a coolant.
Sun said it could save $9 million of electricity costs a year and use half the power the data centre would have required if it was at ground level. Technology experts said Google’s “computer navy” was an unexpected but clever solution.
“It’s really innovative, outside-the-box thinking,” said Rich Miller, the author of the datacentreknowledge .com blog.
6 months ago