Google’s Taiwan and Singapore data centres are greener than previous ones – and avoid Chinese repression
Google has cancelled plans for a $300 million (£182m) data centre in Hong Kong, and opened its first two Asian facilities in Singapore and Taiwan.
The Taiwan facility, in Changhua County, will cost $600 million, (£365m) and the Singapore site will cost $120 million (£73m). The Taiwan site doubled in cost during planning, according to reports, while a similar sized facility planned for the Hong Kong was cancelled, suggesting that Google has shifted its services away from China in response to repressive moves by the Chinese regime.
Heat and space conservation
“Two years after we announced our plans to keep up with Asia’s Internet growth with our first data centers in the region, our facilities in Taiwan and Singapore are now up and running,” said Google’s data centre vice president Joe Kava in a blog post. “Thank goodness they are. While we’ve been busy building, the growth in Asia’s Internet has been amazing.”
The larger of the two data centres, in Taiwan, is close to “some the 100 meter wind turbines that dot the coastal industrial park,” says Kava. But its thermal efficiency is more interesting.
For the first time, Google is using a night-time cooling storage system, essentially producing cold water for cooling its servers without chillers, by using large insulated tanks to hold water that has been cooled overnight, for use during the daytime.
Because space is ata premium in Singapore, Google has built a two-story data centre thee, again a first for the company. Located next to a primary school, it should delight the youngsters with a giant robot in its foyer, built from scrap by a Thai artist.
No room in China?
Google recently pulled the plug on a planned data centre in the Chinese special economic area of Hong Kong, blaming lack of space: “To keep up with the rapid growth in users and usage across the region, we need to focus on locations where we can build for economies of scale,” said a Google statement. “Unfortunately, there is a lack of land for expansion in Hong Kong.”
The real reason may well have been China’s repressive attitude to the Internet, according to Reuters, which suggests similar considerations kept the giant out of India: “With regulations in flux in India and cyberspace censorship in China, Google had to look next door.” The planned $300 million size of the hong Kong site coincides with the increase in budget for the one in Tiapei.
A data centre in Hong Kong would have been a turnaround for Google, since it very publicly pulled out of the country after attacks on Gmail which it blamed on the Chinese government in 2010.
In future, Google may come to question its choice of Singapore for the smaller of its Asian sites, since it is already critical of moves by the government there. Since May, sites which report Singapore news have to pay a S$50,000 (£24,000) fee and submit to censorship of individual stories. The country’s popular Breakfast Network site has closed down.
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