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China forges ahead with undersea data centers

An image of data

An image of data

Hainan, China's southernmost island province, is building an undersea data center for commercial use, local newspapers have reported.

The entire project will build 100 underwater cabins for data storage by 2025, with five pilot cabins being finished within this year.

While many Chinese provinces have pursued data centers as "new infrastructure" investments, this planned underwater center is the first of its kind. It will contribute to Hainan's plan to build a high-tech free trade port and to China's national goal of carbon neutrality, the report says. Investments in the project come from Hainan's provincial government and Highlander, a Beijing-based maritime technology company.

Spearheaded by Microsoft, commercial undersea data centers are an experimental way to store data with low maintenance costs. Being underwater shields equipment from natural and human disruptions. It is particularly helpful in Hainan, where year-round heat makes it difficult to operate a traditional data center.

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