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What The Hell Is Google Building On This Massive Barge?

Discussion in 'Technical' started by stg58, Oct 27, 2013.

  1. stg58

    stg58 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+ Founding Member

    Floating data enter??

    Tons-O-money not surprising


    http://cdn.slashgear.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/stormtrooper-580x356.png stormtrooper-580x356.
    CNET reports that Google is building something super secret — and super huge — on a barge that’s floating in the San Francisco Bay. What the hell is this thing?

    According to CNET, the structure stands four stories tall and is floating on a large barge in the San Francisco Bay, just off shore from Treasure Island. It’s made out of a series of shipping containers. CNET speculates that inside these containers, Google is building a prototype for a floating data centre — which makes a lot of sense, because using sea water to cool data centres could potentially save the company a bucket of money.

    Google, of course, hasn’t responded to any requests for comment about the structure, but CNET links it pretty conclusively to the company with some digging. The structure is floating on a barge that’s parked next to a hanger on Treasure Island, which is leased to a shell company called By and Large LLC — which CNET thinks belongs to Google. How they got there, though, is a pretty impressive bit of reporting. Be sure to check out the full report. [CNET]
  2. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey Site Supporter

    Why the star wars storm trooper in the pic???

    And a tiny R2D2??

    And name of the picture is "stormtrooper"
  3. cdnboy66

    cdnboy66 Monkey++

    Those are not the droids you're looking for....
    JABECmfg likes this.
  4. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey..... Moderator Site Supporter++

  5. DKR

    DKR Interesting ideas, interesting stories

    Many photos here

    Google does not have the permits to use this faculty in the SF Bay area. Construction has stopped BTW.

    I am reminded of the off-shore IT facility using semi-retired cruise ships for non-visa holders. Anchor just outside the 3 mile limit, fill the ship with cheap foreign "talent" and bam, profit.

    Note, much of the ACA website was off-shored to India and we see how well that turned out.

    Cheap, fast and good. Pick one.
  6. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey Site Supporter

    Looks like the unfinished death star...
  7. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Google did patent the concept. So if it is NOT google, it is under lease, contract, or headed to court as a source of future revenue.
  8. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    ANY DataCenter needs a VERY BIG Pipe, to bring the Data In, and Out. Research that and it will tell you how BIG the DataCenter really is..... Look for Construction Permits for FiberOptic installations to the site. Look for Improved Power Lines into the Site. No One is going to run a Datacenter without a Massive Local Grid Connection. No Big Pipe, and Grid, No Massive Datacenter.... .....
    William Antrum and Harbin like this.
  9. NWPilgrim

    NWPilgrim Monkey++

    My thoughts as well BTP. Could possibly use satellite or microwave data link, but would expect fiber optic cable. Might be for research or planned to build on the water and then dock fir permanent site. Either way they were obviously skirting local codes, permits and taxes. Probably Pelosi will extort a campaign contribution and then get a "national security" exemption for them. Or the mayor will.
  10. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

  11. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    SAT Link would be WAY TO EXPENSIVE for the kind of bandwidth a DataCenter would need, and the SAT Link Latency would be devastating for a DataCenter. Multiple Microwave Links would be REQUIRED for such bandwidth, which means Multiple FCC Licenses, which are Public Record, and easily searched for.... No one in their right Mind would try and use anything but Grid Power, as Primary Power for a DataCenter, so any Generators, would only be for ShortTerm Power Outages.
  12. Harbin

    Harbin Monkey+

    BT is spot on (as usual). I work for a data center infrastructure OEM and build/design/service/commission these spaces for a living. They are missing all the necessities mentioned like fiber connections to support the bandwidth, and a very large power source. Understand it's not uncommon to have half a dozen for more megawatt-sized UPSs supplying a large datacenter. I commissioned a datacenter for one DOD site that had 34 of our 1.6Mw systems (can't have too much redundancy). Cooling could be done with heat exchangers transferring heat to the ocean, but the maintenance would be a massive undertaking and constant, and you'd never run sea water directly through a fan coil unit. Only option there would be along the lines of what the navy uses for engine cooling on ships and subs, but that's another topic entirely. Could use some type of hydro power source, but i doubt it would produce on the scale required.

    Then again, maybe they know a whole lot we don't...
  13. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Cooling, I would think would be by Keel Cooler. A self enclosed Piping system that runs along the bottom of the barge. Liquid used in the piping is Antifreeze, and primary side input via Liquid Heat Exchanges. That type of system is very common on large High Seas Fishing Vessels, and has no problems dumping MultiMegaWatts into the Seawater without any corrosion issues, other than common electrolysis... ....
  14. NWPilgrim

    NWPilgrim Monkey++

    Maybe they have the same contractor as did the fireball NSA center and they want to have plenty if water on hand, just in case!
    gunbunny likes this.
  15. DKR

    DKR Interesting ideas, interesting stories

  16. stg58

    stg58 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+ Founding Member

    With 1 on each coast and no one talking points away from a government project.
    The purpose of two structures floating in Portland and San Francisco harbors remains a mystery, but the anonymous owner has left clues to the projects’ high-tech ambitions: inside jokes that computer geeks might find hilarious.

    click image to enlarge
    The mystery barge in Portland Harbor Monday, October 28, 2013.

    Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

    Select images available for purchase in the
    Maine Today Photo Store
    Interactive: clues to the mystery barge

    Click below to review the evidence so far.


    The strange-looking buildings floating on barges are made of shipping containers, welded together. Some experts have speculated that they will be floating data centers. The search engine giant Google received a patent five years ago for a proposed floating data center that uses the ocean to provide cooling.

    In Portland, the barge is docked at Rickers Wharf, where Cianbro Corp. is installing undisclosed technological equipment inside the structure.

    Even workers on the project aren’t being told about the structure’s purpose or the owner’s identity.

    In San Francisco, the barge is docked at Treasure Island, a former Navy base.

    According to vessel registration records, the barges in Portland and San Francisco are owned by a Delaware company called By and Large LLC. The company owns four barges, BAL0001, BAL0010, BAL0011 and BAL0100.

    In the binary code system used by computer programmers, the last four digits of each of the four registration numbers spell out “one,” two,” “three” and “four.” The barge in Portland is BAL0011, apparently code for “barge number three.”

    “That’s a little telling,” said Sharon Gaudin, a writer for Computerworld who went to Rickers Wharf on Monday to eyeball the structure but was ordered off by Cianbro workers.

    “The tech world is abuzz about it right now,” she said. “I’m trying to figure out why Portland, of all the places they could go.”

    Two barges, BAL0001 and BAL0010, are in San Francisco. BAL0100 is unaccounted for.

    Here’s another bit of geek humor: the name By and Large may be a reference to “Buy N Large,” the fictional mega-corporation that has taken over the world economy in Pixar’s 2008 film “WALL-E.”

    Gizmodo, a design and technology blog, speculated Friday that Google is creating a robot as part of its plan to create an island nation.

    “Though I’m sure if Google is building WALL-E, Apple’s EVE shouldn’t be too far behind,” Gizmodo said.

    From Portland Harbor, it appears that the structure consists of 63 metal shipping containers welded together.

    The structure is four containers high, four containers wide and four containers long. One container is slanted at a 45-degree angle to create a ramp.

    There are doors on each of the upper three floors on both ends of the structure. There are also narrow windows.

    It’s possible to look through some of the windows and see windows on the other side, indicating that the sides of some of the containers have been removed to create open floor space.

    Google has refused to return all emails and phone calls from reporters who have inquired about the project.

    Citing anonymous sources inside Google, a San Francisco television station, KPIX, is claiming that the structure there will be a floating store for the Google Glass, the cutting-edge wearable computer the company is developing.

    The station says that Google hopes to tow the completed structure to San Francisco’s Fort Mason, where it would be anchored and open to the public.

    That idea doesn’t make sense, said Cliff Goudey, a senior engineer at Maine Marine Composites in Portland. No company go through that much trouble to create a retail space, which can be had easily on dry land, he said.

    Goudey said a floating data center makes more sense because it takes an enormous amount of energy to keep data centers cool.

    The company would save a lot of money if it could cool its servers with sea water rather than air conditioners, he said. The ocean would be like a “heat sink,” he said.

    Even so, the masterminds of a floating data center probably wouldn’t want to use the word “sink.”
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 26, 2015
  17. bfayer

    bfayer Keeper Of The Faith

    Sounds like a modern cyber version of the Glomar Explorer...
    gunbunny likes this.
  18. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    The one in Maine being built for Exxon is most likely a living unit for offshore workers. I have built similar structures at land base camps. Sea containers are abundant and cheap and easily converted to work and living spaces. An offshore production and or drilling platform only has limited living space and with the advances in technology in the industry the amount of people on a job is significantly increasing. Housing shortages are a common problem industry wide. I have had as many as 140 people on my land locations. Offshore could easily double that. Barges similar to this are used to pull up to and dock at an offshore facility and house workers who are working at that particular platform. They contain bedrooms, galleys and recreation rooms. The grey "basement" houses the plumbing and wiring for the units. And they have sophisticated communications and well monitoring equipment on board as well.
    I just showed the picture to a guy who works for me who has many years of offshore experience and he agreed that was what it was. He said he has seen similar units in the Gulf. And some are sophisticated working units for high tech downhole seismic work.
    Tracy, Yard Dart and kellory like this.
  19. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey..... Moderator Site Supporter++

    Google gag order keeps Coast Guard from talking about mystery barges | Fox News
  20. stg58

    stg58 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+ Founding Member


    The mystery surrounding the barge under construction near Treasure Island took another turn Friday when television station KPIX, quoting unnamed sources familiar with the project, claimed the box-like structure will house luxury showrooms and a party deck for tech giant Google to market Google Glass and other gadgets to invitation-only clients.
    The station’s sources claim it’s part of a fleet of fancy floating showrooms being built around the country in an attempt by Google to upstage Apple and its popular retail outlets. The project has been planned for over a year and is coming out of Google X, the company’s innovation clearinghouse, these sources said.

    High-end showrooms for wealthy clients marks the latest sure-why-not theory to float around media circles since last Friday, when word of the strange four-story barge made of shipping containers first spread across the Internet. The L.A. Times reported Friday that the barge, thought to be registered to Google shell company By and Large LLC, is actually registered to a firm in Spokane, Wash., that produces special events for corporations and other clients. According to the lease, the purpose was “fabrication of a special event structure and art exhibit only and for no other purpose” — which would seem to verify the need for a party deck.

    So far everyone directly involved with the project has been sworn to secrecy — including the Coast Guard — which only adds to the mystery. Previous speculation had centered on a floating data center powered by waves, which Google filed a patent for several years ago. A similar barge is under construction in Portland, Maine, and no one up there seems to know what it’s all about either.

    Google, as been its habit, continues to decline comment. So stay tuned. This is all sure to unravel at some point.
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