Comment On AAC Front Page Article: Underwater Data Center

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Glenn Holland, Feb 8, 2016.

  1. Glenn Holland

    Thread Starter Member

    Dec 26, 2014
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    Seems there is no commentary section for this article regarding Microsoft's plan for housing data centers under the ocean:

    http://www.allaboutcircuits.com/news/is-microsofts-underwater-data-center-the-real-deal/

    Instead of submerging the data center in a capsule, why don't they just pipe sea water to an on shore installation? That's what is done with power plants. The pipes could also be used for general air conditioning. Just install separate sea water mains like those for drinking water and use a meter to charge for use.

    In the late 20s, many large cities had a central hydraulic system that delivered high pressure water to industrial facilities and buildings. Los Angeles had such a system which powered elevators in the downtown area.
     
  2. ronv

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 12, 2008
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    Wonder who owns the land?
     
  3. Glenn Holland

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    Dec 26, 2014
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    The land under the ocean may be off shore from a public beach and likely government property.
     
  4. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    As I read the article it appears that they are using the sea water both for cooling AND for powering (via tidal generators). How much could they reasonably extract with a unit that size? Enough to power the 300 to 1200 computers that it contains? I'm skeptical.

    The following excerpt says a lot about the mindset of the author: "Microsoft’s commitment to these underwater data centers is both selfless and self-serving. Making an energy efficient, environmentally friendly machine is a noble goal, but it would also save Microsoft a ton of money if they can pull it off. Even if Microsoft’s goals with the project are more self-serving, there’s plenty of incentive for them to commit to taking their research as far as they can."

    It reads as if companies that do anything that is self-serving is bad and that "saving Microsoft a ton of money" is a bad thing that would go along with an otherwise "noble goal". The last sentence is almost self-contradictory. The more self-serving the goal the MORE incentive they would have to continue.
     
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  5. tracecom

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    Apr 16, 2010
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    I read that article prior to reading this thread and, despite my tendency toward being critical of some of the front page material, didn't find anything wrong with it. After reading your post, I re-read the article (twice) and still don't see anything wrong. Perhaps the author shows an inclination to distrust Microsoft, but that skepticism is well founded and well deserved. One could also take the position that the author is simply trying to present alternative explanations in the interest of even handedness.
     
  6. mcgyvr

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    Oct 15, 2009
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    I see a comment area at the bottom of the article..
    ??
     
  7. cmartinez

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    Maybe they're also looking for perfect concealment, and to prevent data leaks via wireless means.
     
  8. Alec_t

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    Sep 17, 2013
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    Water leaks might be more problematic :).
     
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  9. Sonoran Desert Tortoise

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    Oct 30, 2014
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    What taxes do they owe to which jurisdiction if they place the data center in international waters?
     
  10. JoeJester

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    Apr 26, 2005
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    Let's see ... The US. CCZ, coastal confluence zone is 200 miles. Are they planning to go out further?
     
  11. Sonoran Desert Tortoise

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    Oct 30, 2014
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    I know nothing about their plans... Just a rhetorical question. How far out before the answer is not the US?
     
  12. WBahn

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    Depends on the specifics of the question. There are three zones. Unless otherwise established, the territorial zone extends three nautical miles out from the low water mark and anything beyond this is classified as international waters. However, nations can claim a contiguous zone that extends out to 24 nm from shore over which they can exert certain restrictions and they can claim an exclusive economic zone out to 200 nm over which they can exert a lesser degree of control. For taxation on something like this, I wouldn't be surprised if the territorial waters were the limit, but I could see an argument claiming that it would fall under the exclusive economic zone laws.
     
  13. JoeJester

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    Since your talking about alot of tax dollars to the state, my bet is the taxing agency will claim out to 200 nautical miles.
     
  14. jgessling

    Active Member

    Jul 31, 2009
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    I had a similar idea when working in a data center next to San Francisco bay. Looking out my window at all that cold water made me wonder why we were putting inefficient cooling systems on our roof. A few pipes hung in the water under the docks at the boat club would easily supply all the cooling required. Couldn't get management interested. Bet you could never get the environmental permits now days.
     
  15. WBahn

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    If they can, they almost certainly will. The question is whether the applicable U.N. treaties that we've agreed to will allow it.
     
  16. WBahn

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    Very possibly not. Coors (yes, the beer guys) used Clear Creek for their cooling water and the EPA forced them to stop and build expensive cooling towers instead. But Coors found a partial solution to their waste heat problem -- they built a steam pipeline up to the Colorado School of Mines and used the buildings' heat registers as their waste heat dump. Mines got a lot of free heat and Coors saved a lot of money by not having to build the associated cooling capacity. Of course, then the gov't declared that Coors was acting as a public utility and couldn't just give energy away. So Coors took CSM on as a commercial costumer in a special district at a rate that resulted in CSM having to pay a utility bill that worked out to $1/yr.
     
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  17. Glenn Holland

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    Dec 26, 2014
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    PG&E supplies power to S.F. and they don't want people or businesses using less power. So they will monkey wrench anything that cuts into their share of the market. I bet PG&E is actually behind the environmental laws that prohibit using water from the bay.

    PG&E is also charging a "grid use" fee for solar power installations that supply -rather than consume- power. Their claim is that solar generators are using the grid, but not paying for it. However, the grid use fee is much higher than what consumers pay for power supplied by PG&E and this is a case of sour grapes and market manipulation.
     
  18. Sonoran Desert Tortoise

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    Oct 30, 2014
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    See, don't try to compete with the government on delivering hot air to the people.
     
  19. #12

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    Nov 30, 2010
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    It's good to know that our government is saving the country from both efficiency and progress.
     
  20. Glenn Holland

    Thread Starter Member

    Dec 26, 2014
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    Getting back to the original post about the Microsoft data center, why don't they just install it on a ship anchored offshore instead of a submerged capsule? A small container ship could house quite a few of those data centers and cooling water is still available.

    There are other economic advantages since an offshore data center would not be subject to real estate taxes. It's like how cruise ships get around gambling laws by operating casinos in international waters.
     
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