‘A mini data center village under the sea’ — China sinks tens of thousands of powerful servers in fresh seawater as it grapples with demand for more power
China has started construction on what could be the world’s first commercial underwater data center as the country looks to take advantage of the icy waters to cool its operations and save on energy consumption.
The data center, which consists of 100 units and covers an area of 68,000 square meters, will be built over five years on the seabed off the coast of Sanya, a coastal city on Hainan Island in southern China. Chinese Central Television (CCTV).
Each data store weighs 1,300 tons and processes more than four million HD images in 30 seconds, with performance equivalent to merging the processing power of 60,000 of the best conventional desktop pcs together.
Save energy by going underwater
China began assembling the facility in April, installing the first data storage unit and has now undergone the process of merging all 100 units, according to its sister site Tom’s hardware. Each module must travel 35 meters to the seabed, which takes three hours. But luckily it will last 25 years.
As demand for big data processing, cloud services, and generative AI workloads in the industry expands across the globe, the data center industry is in something of a construction boom.
New projects are being launched everywhere to meet rising demand, but this is having knock-on effects for other parts of the economy, especially given the tendency of data centers to gobble up land mass, water (for cooling) and energy.
This project has been in the making for yearsand there are several important benefits. First, it will save land that could otherwise be used to build other commercial buildings or homes.
Second, it will save about 122 million kWh of electricity and about 105,000 tons of freshwater every year. This is because the ice-cold seawater acts as a natural cooling element, which can reduce the cost of using water as a coolant on a land-based facility.
Once completed, the data center will be between 40 and 60% more energy efficient than land-based data centers, Pu Ding, general manager of the UDC Hainan pilot development project, told Tom’s Hardware.
Many organizations and entities have flooded data centers before Microsoft’s Project Natick. But this will be the first commercial data center facility to serve a variety of organizations.