This is a guest post from Larry Dignan of TechRepublic’s sister site ZDNet. You can follow Larry on his ZDNet blog Between the Lines, or subscribe to the RSS feed.

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.