back to article Super cool: Arctic data centres aren't just for Facebook

Dotted around the near-Arctic are several data centres, each taking advantage of the cold air in that region. We know that low temperatures are great for cooling, but it isn’t the only reason that operators chose those locations. Facebook opened its data centre in Luleå, northern Sweden in 2011. Google rolled out its Hamina …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cold?

    The Baltic is relatively shallow and has a very limited channel to the larger ocean. While it freezes in winter - in summer it warms up nicely compared with the North Sea or North Atlantic.

    The Arctic areas in Finno-Scandinavia can get very warm in the summer months with 24 hour daylight and even sunshine.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Cold?

      Seconded.

      I have some recollections from an old trip to Finland in early July. I remember swimming and windsurfing off Espo in Helsinki bay which had the water at 24C and the air at 30C with 22 hours of non-stop (albeit a big hazy) sunshine. The only unpleasant part was the ridiculous humidity.

      At the same time, the supposedly subtropical Black Sea* was still at freezing cold 16-18C (I was there just the week before going to Helsinki).

      *In those days it was nowhere near as polluted and overfished as now so there was none of the positive feedback of algae->better absorb heat from sun->more algae blooms of today.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cold?

        "The only unpleasant part was the ridiculous humidity."

        The fly in the ointment is literally the midges - particularly at the sea or lake edges in the shade of trees. Lakes, islands, and trees describes Finland's main features. It is said that the further north you go - the more voracious the midges become. They usually die off near the end of July over a period of only a few days.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Cold?

          I can (and do) make ice with my GSHP, here in Sonoma California. It also keeps my data center cool, for very little day-to-day cost.

          ::shrugs:: to each their own. I just wish the marketards would stop marketarding to the GreatUnwashed, thus perpetuating bullshit.

      2. Trumpet Winsock IIIrd

        Re: Cold?

        Calums guide to swimming in Scottish Lochs

        https://www.facebook.com/bbcthesocial/

    2. frank ly Silver badge

      Re: Cold?

      Swimming in the North Sea at the height of summer is certainly a 'bracing' experience. I wonder if it's the price of electricity in bordering countries that stops people from using it as a data centre heat dump.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Yes, cold?

      Summer temperatures in southern Sweden are comparable to Blighty - even extending to the legendary heatwave we shared in 1976[1] . But even there the warm season is short: right now[2] there could still be snow and frost, and that frost may return by early September. But in northern Sweden, anything into double digits is a warm summer day. And the summer is of course even shorter. They don't call the ground there "permafrost" for nothing.

      [1] In 1976, even our local (Småland, southern Sweden) lake reached 28 degrees at the surface, though swimming down was refreshingly much colder. That's the only time I've known it to peak above 22.

      [2] Last time I was there in early May, for my granny's 90th birthday, daytime peak temperatures were around 3 degrees.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So much for Global Warming awareness.

      Every cute cat video now melts the polar ice caps QUICKER.

      Well played world. Well played.

  2. BurnT'offering

    So, would ie make sense

    to build a cloud on Skye?

    1. Alfie

      Re: So, would ie make sense

      Northern Scandinavia has permafrost, Skye has permacloud.*

      The only problem with locating on Skye being Openreach.

      * except for this past week, obviously!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: So, would ie make sense

      Yep, that's alwhite. Don't much care for blue anyway.

  3. jabuzz

    Scotland

    The maximum ever outside air temperatures in large parts (if not all) of Scotland are well below the maximum inlet air temperatures required by modern equipment, and an awful lot closer than Scandinavia or Iceland.

    Like they say we like summer in Scotland it's our favourite day of the year.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Scotland

      Now if was not for the UK's shitty connectivity to so many remote areas...

      1. BurnT'offering

        Re: Scotland

        Connectivity is easier to fix than geography, despite what BT says

    2. Arctic fox

      @jabuzz Hello?

      I live in a town well north of the Arctic Circle and I have tell you that you have stolen our local joke!

      1. jake Silver badge

        @Arctic fox (Was:Re: @jabuzz Hello?)

        All my Great Grand Parents are from Finland, north of the arctic circle (the family homestead is just a day's ski north-west of Kittilä (although we pronounce it "Gihttel")). I have over-wintered with my kin five times. I thought I knew something about snow & ice (Alaska's Denali). Boy, was I wrong ...That said, as a Great Sage once commented:

        "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."

        --Samuel Clements

  4. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Happy

    Internet meltdown?

    So we move all these servers up North and one day a funny cat video causes an Internet meltdown with a massive spike in server activity in the Arctic - resulting a a heat spike and the icecaps melting. The sea level rises and Twitter and Instagram erupt, causing a further meltdown.

    But on the plus side, the heat differential will cause a lot of wind - so we can probably power the whole thing via wind farms - reusable energy at its finest.

  5. td0s

    Also nice that Iceland do more than their bit for journalistic freedom and don't allow narks free reign over the datya which is hosted there, hence being home of the Wikileaks servers.

  6. VinceH Silver badge
    Coat

    "Cold climates certainly play a part in the citing of these data centres."

    Umm. Sitation needed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Its not really the climate, it's the price of electricity and sources of water for cooling to reduce running costs. Know someone who is currently involved in the building of the arctic circle datacentre, in Norway.

      As has been said, the summers are not cold, gets to be in the mid 20s and sometimes in the mid 30s, this is in the arctic circle.

      1. VinceH Silver badge
        Facepalm

        You didn't see what I did there, did you?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I saw, but as you actually brought it up, decided to reply to you, even if you were joking. The location selection isn't directly down to the climate, yes it helps that you are not in a country that has an annual average temperature of 35c, it is more about the local resource costs.

  7. asdf Silver badge
    Mushroom

    fscking bitcoin

    >but for companies with a singular focus on one workload such as Bitcoin-mining

    I was so hoping that jack wagon from Australia was the founder of bitcoin so he could then turn around and flood 1 million bitcoins on the market (even the threat would have knocked the price down) so that when the price goes to pennies where it belongs that energy and computing power goes towards something useful.

  8. asdf Silver badge

    temperature isn't everything as author says

    Even here where it gets a nice cool 45 degree Celsius fairly regularly there are a fair number of data centers. Plenty of cheap land in the desert and with solar being very viable lots of green energy to be found.

  9. Tezfair
    Alert

    Missing a trick

    Data centres should tie in with the NHS (bare with me). Hospitals have to be hot all the time, and servers have to be cold. Why not colaborate and build small data centers in the grounds of hospitals and essentially the hospital pays a share of the electricity costs in return for the heat. Saves on fuel costs for the hozzy and electric costs for the DCs.

    1. ilmari

      Re: Missing a trick

      This is actually done in Helsinki. Helsinki has both district heating and district cooling infrastructure, data centre heat is dumped into district heating.

      The cool thing about district cooling is that it's mostly powered by unused "waste" heat from the district heating return. Thus, trigeneration powerplants reach extremely high efficiencies. Having 86 million litres of water to store heat and cold in also helps them run the powerplants at their optimum efficiency ratio regardless of the uneven demand on the different energy forms throughout the day.

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