Google files patent for floating data center


— 6:00 AM on September 16, 2008

Say what you will about Google, the company certainly knows how to think outside the box. As Data Center Knowledge reports, Google has filed a patent for the concept of a barge-based data center. If the term confuses you, don't worry—it's exactly what it sounds like.

The patent application says these floating, platform-mounted data centers could lie three to seven miles off shore, in 50-70 meters (164-230 feet) of water. Not only would these facilities allow Google to dispense with real estate purchases and property taxes, but they could rely on sea water and wind for cooling and electricity, respectively. The patent application mentions electricity-generating wind turbines, sea-water pumps, and "one or more seawater-to-freshwater heat exchangers." Google could even use sea waves to generate electricity through Pelamis Wave Energy Converters. It would need quite a few of those to fulfill the data center's 40MW power requirements, though.

The financial and ecological advantages of having off-shore data centers seem pretty clear, but Data Center Knowledge raises an interesting question: who exactly would have jurisdiction over the facilities and the customer data they contain? The three- to seven-mile range would give Washington the last word if Google chose U.S. coasts, but the data centers could find themselves in international waters if Google built them off the coast of, say, Singapore.

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