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'Biggest Data Center' To Be Built in Arctic ( 41

A small town in the remote north of the Arctic Circle is set to be home to the world's largest data center. From a report: The firm behind the project, Kolos, says the chilled air and abundant hydropower available locally would help it keep its energy costs down. The area, however, suffers the country's highest rate of sick leave from work, which may be related to its past as a mining community. The US-Norwegian company says it has already raised "several million dollars" for the project from Norwegian private investors. However, it is still working with a US investment bank to secure the remaining necessary funds.
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'Biggest Data Center' To Be Built in Arctic

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  • Fortitude (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mydn ( 195771 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @04:02PM (#55019987)
    Sounds like the sequel to Fortitude.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What happens to the data center when the ice melts?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In a few years, the entire building will start sinking in the melting permafrost, like many of the buildings of arctic regions.

    How do they come up with those brilliant ideas ? Didn't they learn anything from the seed archive fiasco ?

  • I would imagine the waters being all frozen in winter.

    How do they handle this?

  • Sounds like a great plot idea for the remake of The Thing
  • Just an idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by captaindomon ( 870655 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @04:35PM (#55020317)
    From the article: "The US-Norwegian company says it has already raised "several million dollars" for the project from Norwegian private investors. However, it is still working with a US investment bank to secure the remaining necessary funds." So it's just an interesting idea and a grab for investor funds right now.
    • So it's just an interesting idea and a grab for investor funds right now.

      So, the same model as half of the companies in the bay area? Seems to be working for (some of) them.

  • by shuz ( 706678 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @04:47PM (#55020443) Homepage Journal

    I am curious how they plan to service the town. The town airport [] doesn't even show up on the list of airports in the country. I would estimate it at 200ft or less. A Beechcraft Kingair, a typical small town cargo plane, requires more runway space. Narvik is the closest large airport and that is 110 miles away through a twisty highway through the fjords. Ships are great for large cargo but not for fast cargo. The DC manager can overcome some vendor issues by having trained/certified intelligent hands that work shifts. But if you are creating the largest datacenter in the world then I hope that you also plan to have a large commercial airport as well and possibly some amount of major vendor buy in. Expect requirements of 4 hours or less vendor presence. 4 hours from Narvik to Ballangen in the winter might be tricky.

    Good luck with the logistics!

    • I wonder if they are just optimistic about the buy-in; or if they are angling for a specific flavor of customer: someone whose IT setup requires the ability to get a vendor specific FRU swapped out in short order is probably better served just putting it in a less hostile location. You'll pay slightly more; but it's not like finding a colo in the cheaper suburbs of a large number of nontrivial cities is terribly difficult; and those will be in range of your vendor's warranty coverage and your preferred ship
    • exactly what I was wondering, building a datacentre and powering it are actually the smallest and easiest (and possibly cheapest) problems to overcome, the logistics of being so remote for something that requires a huge amount of incoming and outgoing resources and technical expertise in extremely tight timeframes would be a nightmare to organise. I wonder if they have planned and solved this or they have foolishly left this as a problem to tackle later.
    • Looking at the map (select "Ballangen" and then "Harstad/Narvik Airport, Evenes") it is very obvious that any urgent air freight or express service visit will fly to Evenes and then get a fast boat ride across the fjord, the distance is just ~15 km (i.e. less than 10 miles) or just 4 km across the fjord to the closest road.

      The time for this would be under 30 min for the total transfer, and if that isn't fast enough then you'd use one of the helicopters at the airport, stationed there for the oil industry.


  • What about (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bobstreo ( 1320787 )


    Ping times to the Arctic would be bad.

      Fiber to the location would be quite expensive. Permafrost isn't the most stable land to build on.

    And where are they going to find people to work there?

    • Re:What about (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ashtead ( 654610 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @05:08PM (#55020651) Journal

      Fiber is already there, along the railway line from Narvik and eastwards. There is no permafrost in this area, most of it is sea and bedrock, within which the mines were located. As for distance, even a large town such as Tromsø is further north and further away from the rest of Europe.

    • Re:What about (Score:5, Interesting)

      by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @06:04PM (#55021177) Journal

      A huge amount of the data processing going on is not very latency sensitive once the stream starts, even if jitter sensitive (e.g. Netflix movie). If they court the market for "nearline" compute at a cost that is highly competitive to the national colo server farms (colo in this case meaning DC resident in-country) then I could see them doing quite well.

      As others have noted, Fiber is there, as is foundation.

      My concern would be actual physical access to personnel, particularly vendor support, though the latter could be mitigated by the vendor simply storing spares on-site, but not accessible to the DC until activated, at which time the failing unit would be taken off-line and shipped slow-boat back to the vendor.

      There is already some level of precedent for this where Intel allows the largest consumers to pick the sku of the CPU *after* it's already on the motherboard, but while still on the assembly line. Fuse blows and sku is locked in. They then pay Intel the price based on the counts. This lets the likes of Dell react much faster to demand.

  • []

    Maybe this time it will go somewhere

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