Google wins floating data center patent

Google wins floating data center patent

Summary: Google has been awarded a U.S. patent for its floating data centers that are powered by waves and cooled by sea water.


Google has been awarded a U.S. patent for its floating data centers that are powered by waves and cooled by sea water.

The patent award was spotted first by SEO by the Sea. As noted previously, the floating data center idea is quite novel and makes a ton of sense. For Google these floating data centers could be a boon because there are no real estate costs or property taxes. 

The offshore data centers would site 3 to 7 miles offshore and float in about 50 to 70 meters of water. 

According to the abstract Google was awarded a patent (7,525,207) for:

A system includes a floating platform-mounted computer data center comprising a plurality of computing units, a sea-based electrical generator in electrical connection with the plurality of computing units, and one or more sea-water cooling units for providing cooling to the plurality of computing units. 

Inventors were listed as Jimmy Clidaras, David Stiver and William Hamburgen.

The general idea is to move computing power closer to users. The larger question is whether Google will actually deploy these data center barges. Rich Miller at Data Center Knowledge writes:

Does Google have any intention of actually building these floating data centers? Many in the data center community are deeply skeptical about the concept, and find it difficult to believe that Google would ever pursue such a project.

So here’s the interesting precedent: In December 2003 Google applied for a patent for a portable data center in a shipping container, which was awarded in Oct. 2007. At last month’s Efficient Data Center Summit, we learned that Google deployed its first container data center in the fall of 2005, less than two years after filing its patent application.


Topics: Legal, Data Centers, Google, Hardware, Storage

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  • Does it really make sense?

    Surely the economical and ecological cost of building and maintaining the ships to house all these would outwiegh the savings?

    Why collocate the data centres - we have extensive electrical grids to pump power from point of generation to point of use - why not leave the data centres where they are. People have been looking at wave power for decades, but it doesnt seem to ever have come to much.

    I also assume these are not intended for off the coast of Somalia.
  • International Waters

    I think Google is preparing for the possibility to have to offshore their data - so it's outside the realm of goverments. They have gotten so large, they are now worried governments will step in to halt their expansion. If the data is in international waters, who would have jurisdiction?
    • Who has jurisdiction?

      Under maritime law, each vessel has a "flag" from a particular country and that country's laws apply to that vessel. Because the platforms are in international navigable waterways, that rule would apply.
      • RE: Who has jurisdiction??

        Many are aware that some countries are basically "flags of convenience", because their laws are so lax. The other possibility is Google finding some small uninhabited island, and declare it to be a "new" nation, complete with its own "laws".
    • They have data centers all over the world.

      I suspect this has to do more with the need for more space to store their containerized data centers and power them. Their data centers are like this: <a href=>Google containerized data center in a box</a>, thus having a ship hold them makes sense, and using wave power allows for less expensive power. These are only 3 to 7 miles off shore, within the 12 mile limit.
  • RE: Google wins floating data center patent

  • RE: Google wins floating data center patent

    Will Google deploy them? Maybe yes, maybe no, but the idea will definitely be deployed. Hook one of those barges up to a heavy duty military vessel and it sounds like something the military would want for hot spots. Google already develops its own servers and has been looking to expand beyond search. Sounds like a natural.
    • Yes, makes sense

      My first thought was exactly the same as the person who said "pirates".

      But your comment makes complete sense, and solves the pirate issue.

      Who says Google created and patented the idea for their search engine business? There is lots of money to be made with the military, and the battlefield requires two very important things that this solves:

      1. More and more sophistication and horsepower. With applications such as battlefield networking (an IP for every soldier!) and pilotless aircraft, every branch of the military needs more technology in the field.

      2. Mobility. The military needs these high-power solutions to go where the latest hotspot is. I think if one looks at the major engagements of the last 20 years, that much is very clear.
  • RE: Google wins floating data center patent

    How is a floating data center a patentable idea? The US Navy has been running data centers on naval ships for at least 40 years. The computers were cooled with sea water, though the power was generated by the ship's power plant instead of a wave action generator. Does changing the power source make something patentable? That would be like patenting a portable radio because it can use a wall wart in addition to batteries.

    I have the same problem with Google's shipping container data centers. The US Military has been using portable data centers built into trailers and shipping containers for at least as long too.
  • Starting their own country

    Google will have enough of these floating data centers with people living off of them, and will soon create their own country. Welcome to Googledonia!
  • RE: Google wins floating data center patent

    The data centers need to be close to where the data is needed. If Somalians develop a large enough desire to surf the web, then Google will want to help them advertise on that web without tangling with the Somalian government. It's a good idea...

    Only 15 years ago, the Internet was negligible. Today the Internet has grown rapidly, but I would imagine that it still has a long way to expand.
  • Google will deploy these ships

    It seems the next logical step for their model, which is build then ship the whole room:

    [i]Google applied for a patent for a portable data center in a shipping container,[/i]

    This makes much more economic sense than shipping individual components and putting the room together at its destination. They can build and deploy a barge ship to go anywhere in the world. If a data center off the coast of China can better serve Australia or California, no problem. Pull up anchor and plot a course.
  • Why is this patentable? People have

    harnessed wave action for thousands of years...
  • Why is this patentable? This is why...

    > Why is this patentable?
    > People have harnessed wave action for thousands of years...

    First of all, a principle in patents is that you cannot patent an idea, what is granted a patent is the expression of an idea.

    More to the point, however: Why did they grant a patent to the multiblade razor to Gillette and Schick? People have been shaving with razors since ancient times.

    How on Earth do you think we have ended up with a number of patents that is in the millions (10s of millions)? There HAS to be a lot of similarity among many of them.

    BTW: You cannot patent "wave harnessing" - It is too vague.

    • Depends on what the patent applies to

      granted people have been shaving with blades for years.

      But in many cases, a patent can be applied to the method used to create the multiple blades as a whole, not the idea of multiple blades.
  • They also have the sinking datacenter patent

    in case it goes down.

    I guess we can now patent anything already existing on land once we adapt it to float?
  • RE: Google wins floating data center patent

    Brutal environment to house computers in. Rust never sleeps. Good Luck on that one.....
  • Will this work ?

    At their headquarters they put a bunch of sheep in place to cut their lawn. have to feed them, truck them in, make sure they don't wander, and then finally hope they don't eat all your grass.

    I am all for going green but sometimes things can be taken too far. Environmentalists are arguing over the massive solar panel farms being planned for our deserts because these farms could negatively impact the local plantlife and may endanger some species of animals. then we have to run cables from them.

    I hope this works for them and they are looking at all the angles. Too often things are done solely for political reasons.
    • ??

      It was goats!

      And, if this plan saves money (which is usually the case for green when the cradle to cradle costs are factored) and resources that would be a plus. It's not tainted left, it's more capitalist and benefit driven.
      You sir are a troll.