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Green datacentres take to the high seas

Reports are surfacing of an innovative green data centre venture - at sea. A startup company called International Data Security (IDS) is said to be preparing a fleet of data centres on boats, designed to provide computing power to land-starved companies offshore.

The venture, rumoured to be bringing its first seafaring data centre online in April, would offer two key benefits to its customers. With property prices soaring at its home in the San Francisco Bay area, it would provide a cheaper alternative to those needing data centre capacity. The other upside is that it can use seawater to help with cooling, which accounts for a significant amount of the power used in the average data centre.

A sales document said to come from IDS and hosted by a company claiming to be in negotiation for a sales partnership, says that the use of seawater for cooling could save 30 to 40 per cent on the power used by air conditioning.

The venture will also reportedly use decommissioned ships, saving them from being sold as scrap. Backup generators will use biodiesel-powered fuel, and the heat from the data centres will be used to keep the ships warm. Reports suggest that each boat in the fleet will offer 200,000 square feet of space.

The idea is not without precedent; Sun Microsystems already has an initiative called Project Blackbox, which crams a data centre into a shipping container. The high-density system is shock-mounted and can be redeployed simply by transporting it to a new site.

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