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The Data Submarine


The Data Submarine

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Steve Jones
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Comments posted to this topic are about the item The Data Submarine

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Interesting, there are tales of gigantic eels living in the cooling water outflows of some old coal fired powered stations - the divers charged with the responsibility of keeping the channels clear were not happy men, and they went through quite a lot of them... Seriously though, as a physicist, I am dismayed by all this talk of 'waste heat'. Any temperature differential can be used to do work, heat a greenhouse for example (and maybe use some of the waste 'greenhouse' gases in a greenhouse, to grow food, and other cash crops) The Dutch make good money from greenhouses, and export to the world. So it can be done, and profitably. In fact, any datacentre could also be used to heat and power and feed and accommodate the homeless... Silicon Valley being a prime example, where a lot of work needs to be done to ameliorate the harm done by the greedy 1% Just a bit of systems thinking needed. All MS is doing here is dump heat into another environment that may not be able to sustain it, just a cheap and ersatz green way of doing it...
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I assume that this is in fact a case of saving energy in terms of energy used in cooling. So it's not a case of heat being wasted, but energy being saved on cooling which has to be direct. Energy that could otherwise have been used to heat a greenhouse perhaps. I don't know this, but I'm guessing that the energy saved in cooling must be substantial enough to outweigh the risks of burial at sea!
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walkerjian - Tuesday, June 12, 2018 10:29 PM
... All MS is doing here is dump heat into another environment that may not be able to sustain it, just a cheap and ersatz green way of doing it...

No additional energy is required to remove this heat. By comparison, extensive additional is required for air conditioning cooling on land, in addition to the amount of heat disapated.

But I think this is just a trial balloon to see how it works, not necessarily a real 'direction' at this point.


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I was curious about how this would actually work, were they using the equivalent of a desktop water-cooling rig (heatsink on CPUs with water flowing through to a radiator) or something else. Reading the article, it's something else.

Essentially, they've got radiators on the backsides of the server racks, with fans to pull the air over the servers and through the radiators. Not as efficient as having the heatsink on the processor, but does have the advantage of sucking up the waste heat from other components on the servers (FETs, NICs, etc.)

The big question is, is the total cost of something like this, including the installation, cheaper (both up front and over time) than a typical land-bound data center of equivalent size? And, as others have pointed out, the warm water *will* attract sea life to the outflow, potentially blocking it, and the inflow has a chance of clogging up from pulling in debris and sea life. Presumably they've got a screen to prevent such material from actually getting pulled into the system itself (or at least objects over a certain size,) but even so, eventually that screen is going to get covered...
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My concern is the environment, what affect this will have on sea life? Let's quit using the oceans as a dumping ground. I know there is no visible waist, but the heat entering the water is 'waste'. The oceans are warming up enough now, let's not add more to it. As walkerjan said there are better ways of doing this.

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below86 - Wednesday, June 13, 2018 8:05 AM
My concern is the environment, what affect this will have on sea life? Let's quit using the oceans as a dumping ground. I know there is no visible waist, but the heat entering the water is 'waste'. The oceans are warming up enough now, let's not add more to it. As walkerjan said there are better ways of doing this.

Compared to the heat from other sources, sun, rivers, geothermal vents, even ships, this is incredibly small potatoes in a very large heat sink. Effects would extend only a few feet.


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allinadazework - Wednesday, June 13, 2018 4:30 AM
I assume that this is in fact a case of saving energy in terms of energy used in cooling. So it's not a case of heat being wasted, but energy being saved on cooling which has to be direct. Energy that could otherwise have been used to heat a greenhouse perhaps. I don't know this, but I'm guessing that the energy saved in cooling must be substantial enough to outweigh the risks of burial at sea!


Cooling power is substantial. When we used to rent space for SSC, cooling was charged for first. We got power limitations first, then cooling charge, then charge by power.

It would be better to have this heat used elsewhere, though I don't know how feasible this is. It's not likely to boil water, but perhaps greenhouse or something else. However, that doesn't necessarily help the data center survive, since it needs some cooling as well as heat dump.

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Steve Jones - SSC Editor - Wednesday, June 13, 2018 8:27 AM
allinadazework - Wednesday, June 13, 2018 4:30 AM
I assume that this is in fact a case of saving energy in terms of energy used in cooling. So it's not a case of heat being wasted, but energy being saved on cooling which has to be direct. Energy that could otherwise have been used to heat a greenhouse perhaps. I don't know this, but I'm guessing that the energy saved in cooling must be substantial enough to outweigh the risks of burial at sea!


Cooling power is substantial. When we used to rent space for SSC, cooling was charged for first. We got power limitations first, then cooling charge, then charge by power.

It would be better to have this heat used elsewhere, though I don't know how feasible this is. It's not likely to boil water, but perhaps greenhouse or something else. However, that doesn't necessarily help the data center survive, since it needs some cooling as well as heat dump.

In theory, I would think you could put the chillers for a datacenter inside a greenhouse of some sort, but the problem would be, this would adversely impact the ability of those chillers to cool down...
The heat has to have someplace to go, and if they're already in a warm / hot environment, they'd have to work that much harder to cool. Arguably, in that case, all you'd be doing is moving the energy waste from the datacenter (waste heat being pumped into the air) to the power plant / transmission lines (generating more power to run the cooling system that's working harder.)
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jasona.work - Wednesday, June 13, 2018 7:30 AM
I was curious about how this would actually work, were they using the equivalent of a desktop water-cooling rig (heatsink on CPUs with water flowing through to a radiator) or something else. Reading the article, it's something else.


I suspect there are radiators of some sort to absorb heat inside and radiate to the container. I wonder if they would have pumps at all since those typically need maintenance. Might be passive cooling piping that lets water flow, perhaps using natural movement as water heats. There isn't air inside, so no moisture issues. I would suspect that they hope it remains uncovered and water flows across it, just using convection for heat dispersal.


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