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  • Voltaire Staff

China is setting up 1,300 ton data centre on seabed

Image Courtesy: Unsplash

China has achieved a global milestone by being the first nation to have a commercial data centre underwater off the coast of Sanya city on Hainan Island in the south.

China is deploying robust modules on the seafloor at depth of approximately 35 meters, or 115 ft, according to a report by China Daily.

They are currently in the process of setting up this facility having deployed the first of the several modules in April this year. These modules, designed to endure challenging underwater conditions, are built to operate sustainably for up to 25 years, the report said.

Each of these watertight data centre modules weighs an impressive 1,300 tons and can process over 4 million high-definition images every 30 seconds. When combined, the entire facility is expected to match the computational power of an astounding 6 million conventional PCs operating simultaneously.

The aim behind the ambitious exercise is to free up the land which such a big unit may have taken place as well as use the water's natural cooling nature to keep the unit within sustainable temperatures.

The plan is to have 100 of these underwater data centre blocks by 2025, which when fully deployed will take up about 68,000 square metres, or 732,000 square feet, of construction space -- equivalent to nearly 13 football fields.

Using seawater as a natural coolant is crucial. It helps maintain lower temperatures around the data centres, resulting in an estimated annual saving of around 122 million kilowatt-hours of electricity. This is equivalent to the average electricity use of 160,000 Chinese citizens, China Daily claimed.

Despite these benefits, it's challenging to place these 1,300-ton units underwater. They must be designed to withstand pressure and corrosion from seawater, besides environmental impact on marine ecosystems is also a concern.

While the concept of underwater data centres isn't entirely new, China's initiative is the first commercial implementation. Microsoft fiddled with the idea in 2015 under its Project Natick off the Pacific coast and then two-year tests off the coast of Orkney, Scotland in 2020. The firm, despite claiming its benefits, is yet to go ahead with it.

The Hainan Undersea Data Center is a collaboration between the government and private companies.


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