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CNOOC builds its first commercial subsea data centre

Author : PCEC

02 March 2022

On February 11, construction of CNOOC Offshore Oil Engineering Company’s first subsea data cabin started at the Tianjin Lingang Manufacturing Site as part of the company’s Hainan Subsea Data Center Project.

Image: CNOOC Offshore Oil Engineering Company
Image: CNOOC Offshore Oil Engineering Company

The data cabin, which houses IT facilities such as servers in a sealed pressure vessel on the seabed, is currently the largest subsea data centre in the world and sits at a depth of more than 20 metres, weighing around 1,300 tons. It uses a submarine composite cable to supply power, and transmits data back to the Internet.

Data centers are starting to be built on the seabed because of the large amount of heat that data centres generate when they operate. The traditional method is to use air conditioners to cool them down, but this requires a lot of electricity. The project can use the sea for heat exchange, and use the sea water to dissipate the heat generated by the servers. The solution occupies very little land on the shore and does not require cooling towers during operation. Subsea data centres therefore have far-reaching significance for promoting the green development of the data industry and serving the digital economy.

The main difficulty in the design of the subsea data cabin is that a large number of sophisticated data components need to be installed and there are a large number of openings on the tank through which pipelines and cables pass. After the tank sinks to the bottom of the sea, it will be subjected to external seawater pressure for a long time. From scheme research, engineering design, construction to testing, there are plenty of large technical challenges.

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