Underwater data centre set to make a splash by end of year

6 Sep 2022

Image: © tiero/Stock.adobe.com

Subsea Cloud has a commercial location planned off the US west coast and said its underwater data centre can reduce power consumption and emissions by 40pc.

Commercial underwater data centres appear to be on the horizon, with a company planning to have one operational by the end of the year.

Subsea Cloud aims to have its first commercial location off the west coast of the US near Washington. The company said it has already deployed its technology with a “government faction”, The Register reports.

The modular construction named ‘Jules Verne’ will start with a shipping container-sized pod around nine meters underwater that can hold 800 servers. The project will eventually scale to 100 pods of this size, according to Data Centre Dynamics.

Subsea Cloud said its underwater data centres can lower latency by up to 98pc, while reducing power consumption and emissions by 40pc.

The company also said that underwater data centre construction is cheaper. Subsea Cloud founder Maxie Reynolds told The Register that it can deploy 1MW of capacity for up 90pc less cost than a land-based equivalent.

“The savings are the result of a smaller bill of materials, and less complexities in terms of deployment and maintenance,” Reynolds said. “It’s complex and costly to put in the infrastructure in metropolitan areas and in rural areas too: there are land rights and permits to consider and labour is slower and can be more expensive.”

Subsea Cloud has two other underwater data centres in the works, located in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea.

Data centres have become known for their high levels of energy use, causing strain on electricity grids. According to Central Statistics Office figures, data centres consumed 14pc of Ireland’s electricity last year, which was more than rural dwellings.

Servers in data centres also generate heat, which makes keeping these facilities cool a high priority. This has led to data centres being planned for locations such as the Arctic Circle.

Microsoft has been working on self-contained underwater data centres for years through Project Natick. In 2018, the project’s team celebrated the submersion of a data centre 117ft down to the Scottish seabed as a prototype.

Two years later, Microsoft said the concept was proven to be feasible, as well as “logistically, environmentally and economically practical”.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic