Photos: The world's weirdest datacentres

Photos: The world's weirdest datacentres

Summary: From Antarctic computing centres to former churches, we look at some of the most unusual datacentres around the world.


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  • datacentre on a boat

    One of the plans for the floating datacentre set out in Google's patent applicationPhoto: Google/

    Datacentres could be destined to leave dry land if search giant Google has its way.

    In 2008, Google floated the idea of putting datacentres on platforms that would sit three to seven miles offshore, and won a patent for the idea in 2009.

    Potential advantages range from the availability of wind and wave power and seawater cooling, to the absence of property taxes and building regulations.

    Google envisions that the datacentres would be modular and constructed on land inside standard shipping containers before being hauled via truck to ships and then unloaded onto floating pontoons.

    Photo: Louis Vest

  • Time to go deep underground for this next datacentre, into the caverns of a disused mine.

    The datacentre is situated 100 metres underground in a coal mine in the Chubu region of Honshu, Japan's main island.

    When complete, the facility will total 30 shipping containers, each holding about 250 servers and with about 10,000 processor cores available, although that number could be expanded to 30,000.

    Cooling is provided by groundwater and the 15C temperature underground dispenses with the need for air conditioning outside the containers.

    The datacentre was set up in 2007 by a joint venture made up of Sun, now owned by Oracle, and 11 other companies.

    The group estimates that it could save $9m a year on electricity costs by removing the need for water coolers.

    The containers are strong enough to withstand earthquakes of 6.7 on the Richter scale.

    The picture above is not of the mine used for the Sun datacentre, but a coal mine tunnel in Pennsylvania.

    Photo: zizzybaloobah

  • If you are looking for a secure place to store information, then inside a mountain seems a safe bet.

    The Mountain Complex and Data Center offers three million square feet of space inside a mountain situated more than 100 feet above the top of the Table Rock Dam in the Ozark mountains of central US.

    Inside the mountain there is a further 75 acres of undeveloped space, as seen here.

    The facility's owners say the site is "nearly impervious" to catastrophes. Tornadoes blow over the site, floodwaters can't reach it and a "direct attack could not substantially harm The Mountain".

    Photo: The Mountain Complex and Data Center

Topics: Cloud, Data Centers, Hardware


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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  • also if Google's servers sit on ships in international waters

    Google is free to do with the data anything they want, because it's not sitting in the US, UK, ect.
    William Farrel
  • There's a plot for a Bond movie

    somewhere in here.