Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Google Floats Plans For Wave Powered Data Center

Google's continued dominance of online search and advertising depends largely on it's ability to store and utilize MASSIVE amounts of data. The servers that house this data are notorious energy guzzlers (1.5% of all US energy goes to data centers by some estimates). It's not suprising then, that google has gotten into alternative energy.
Recently, the internet titan has unveiled plans to house their data centers miles offshore, on floating barges. The benefits includes virtually free real estate, natural wave and wind energy, and ocean waters to cool the servers.
In reading about this ambitious plan I can't shake the image of the google barge tossed around in a 100-year Pacific storm, getting pounded by a rogue wave and sinking like a rock. It makes you reevaluate the percieved permanence of the digital world. The "internet cloud" often seems intangible, floating, and divorced from the material world. But in reality our virtual lives are very dependent on the real-life, physical servers that make them possible. I have heard rumors of patents for indestructible, self-repairing (waterproof?) server systems...which is encouraging, especially if they're bobbing around in the Pacific.

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