Data centre ships go the way of the Marie Celeste

In 2009 Google displayed a photoshopped image of a “prototype data centre ship” as part of its Data Center Efficiency Summit.

It seemed like a good idea. After all you don’t have to pay for land and you have all the cold water you need to keep the servers cool.

While the idea was talked about, in 2008, a Bay Area startup announced plans to build data centres on 50 cargo container ships but nothing came of it.

In 2008 Google filed a patent for a “water-based data centre” that would use the ocean to provide power and cooling. Google’s idea was that the floating data centres would be located three to seven miles from shore, in 50 to 70 meters of water. It would use 40 Pelamis Wave Energy Converter units, which use the motion of ocean surface waves to create electricity and can be combined to form “wave farms”. Each ship should produce 40 megawatts of power, the patent said.

But now Datacentre knowledge, which we get for its huge rack centerfold, claims that while the patent was true, Google’s own desire to create it was a gag which culminated with the photoshopped snap of a cargo ship with a Google logo on it.  

The idea was never anchored on reality and is a bit like the Flying Dutchman in that it emerges from mist and goes back to it.