China is constructing what appears to be the world’s first commercial underwater data center (UDC) off the coast of Sanya, near Hainan Island. The UDC, a joint project with support from the Sanya government and Hainan Provincial State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, involves installing watertight data storage units that can process over four million high-definition images in 30 seconds. The estimated performance of the UDC is equivalent to around 60,000 regular computers operating together.
The project aims to install 100 data storage units over five years, providing a processing power equivalent to around 6 million PCs. The underwater data center, covering 68,000 square meters, takes advantage of the seabed and is expected to save land, electricity, and freshwater resources. The completed data center is projected to be 40% to 60% more power-efficient than land-based counterparts. The Hainan Undersea Data Center is part of a larger trend in China, with several other underwater data center projects in development across the country. The ambitious Hainan project, announced in Q1 2021, is expected to be completed by Q2 2025 at an estimated cost of $879 million.