back to article Going underground with Scaleway's Apple M1-as-a-Service: Mac Minis descend into Paris nuclear bunker

Scaleway is running a farm of Apple M1 Mac Minis in its repurposed fallout shelter beneath Paris, France. Customers seeking the M1-as-a-Service experience can order up a Mac Mini M1 and be running in under five minutes, according to the company. The cost is €0.10 per hour with a 24-hour commitment. The company claimed it …

  1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    "After all, Apple devices any not-suitably-waterproofed electronic device and water are historically not notable bedfellows."


    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      It refers to this.

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Says who? It could just as likely refer to this Samsung sued for false 'waterproof' claims, or this Sony issues refunds after false Xperia waterproof claims", or any number of "electronics+water+marketing don't mix" stories.

        Assumption is the mother of all f*ckups.

  2. iron Silver badge

    > repurposed fallout shelter... channels responsible for draining excess Parisian water from behind the walls

    I'm confused. How can a fallout shelter not be waterproof? Surely radiation would leak in and kill the people inside, or at least cause nasty mutations. Or was this Vault-Tec France's Supermutant breeding vault?

    1. karlkarl Silver badge

      I'm confused. How can a fallout shelter not be waterproof?


    2. Victor Ludorum

      Not so much fallout shelter

      More of an underground shelter. It's 26 metres underground. I'm no geologist but if you're that far underground in a city with a decent sized river running through it, you're going to get some water ingress. It's easy to keep most of the water out, but it gets exponentially harder as you try and keep more and more water out. It gets to a point where it's cheaper to just pump out the water that does get in.

      1. a_builder

        Re: Not so much fallout shelter

        Actually you are correct. I design this stuff as part of my day job.

        It is a waste of time trying to make concrete perfectly waterproof: you can't. And even if you did movement will make sure it is not perfectly watertight after a while.

        So cavity drained membrane systems are used to guide the water away to a sump where it can be pumped out. The membrane also provides a vapour control layer that concrete fundamentally cannot do.

        You aim to make it pretty watertight such that the inflows are controllable and a tiny % of the capacity of the pumps used.

    3. StargateSg7

      Plain stupidity is what it is!

      Everything in Paris leaks! The underground graveyards (ossuuary) underneath Paris just ooze water from everywhere. You can't get away from the dampness because it was all originally a big swamp near a river! That means ANY bunker built there will leak like a seive!

      As a direct comparison between the Paris bunker and our own massive data server farm in the Northern Mountainous Region of British Columbia, Canada, that datacentre has MASSIVE TUNNELS cut out two km deep into the side of a mountain. Each tunnel/cavern wall has tens of thousands of deep bored strain-relief compression bolts (4 cm in diameter!) drilled into the cavern walls keeping the mountain from crashing down into the resulting caverns and tunnels.

      Then the exposed rockface was ALL shotcreted (i.e. sprayed with concrete) which was then sealed with Line-X-type polyvarathane waterproofing at 30 cm thick and THEN a full encased 60 cm thick steel-reinforced (rebar) concrete shell poured next to the coated wall to provide a flexible, waterproof, earthquake-resistant interior of over two million square metres! (20 million square feet!) that contains racks and racks of custom-built motherboards.

      Mountains actually FLEX! They strain, move and compress which is why the 30 cm thick polyvarathane shell was installed first so the mountain could ALSO flex and compress against the interior STEEL REBAR reinforced solid concrete shell and not crack it.

      And THAT is what I call a WATERPROOF underground bunker!

      It will survive a 20 megaton nuclear hit too! And in case you are wondering, it's so remote that only a two to four hour drive on a barely passable mountain logging road (or a helicopter!) gives you access and twenty highly paid system administrators and hardware people rotate in and out on a 4 days on and four days off schedule from local cities and Vancouver.

      They live onsite INSIDE the facility where they say its VERY QUIET and comfortable! If Armageddon ever happens, they have a three year supply of fuel for the computers and themselves plus a multi-year supply of freeze dried emergency food and other technical supplies plus multiple 4x4 vehicles!

      It used to get cheap power from BC Hydro but lately it has gone all self-contained with giant tanks of Propane attached to Ballard-style fuel cells (thin membrane proton exchange) which have enough for fuel capacity for THREE YEARS of completely off-grid electrical power supply at a time!

      On a technical basis, with two million square metres, that underground bunker makes it one of the world's LARGEST datacentres too! However it's all privately held running boatloads of custom-built CPU/GPU/DSP chips used for materials research, financial systems calculations and specialty physics simulations. This is the company's SECOND remote British Columbia data centre site which is newer and much much larger than the original one which was built in the late 1980's/early 1990's above-ground attached to normal BC hydro power (via 400 KV lines)


      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        All very impressive, to be sure, but your mountain doesn't have river flowing over it, now does it ?

        So how does that compare ?

        You want an impressive underground bunker ? Check out NORAD.

        1. StargateSg7

          I've been inside NORAD (Cheyenne Mountain Complex).

          I wasn't impressed!

          Our facility in Northern BC is MUCH MUCH LARGER and can handle a 20 MEGATON nuclear strike.

          The NORAD facility only handles up to 2 megaton hits because the interior is exposed rock and it sits in a type of mountain that is inherently "unstable"!

          The inside of Cheyenne is a series welded-steel utility buildings sitting on giant steel springs BUT the entire facility is built into ROTTEN ROCK which is a type of strata that has enormous cracks and multiple rock types that are quite unstable. Our facility in northern BC is inside a SOLID GRANITE MOUNTAIN with no major disparate strata seams, nor any rock cleavages. We did a fancy deep synthetic seismic survey to ensure that the mountain was NOT Rotten Rock!

          If Cheyenne ever gets hit, there is NOT ENOUGH compression bolts to keep the rock walls from collapsing into the facility AND there is no secondary THICK-COATED GALVANIZED STEEL REBAR and no 120,000+ PSI composite fibre-reinforced BUNKER CONCRETE reinforcing walls like our facility has in order to keep the mountain from crushing you!

          Even our 30 cm thick polyvarathane water-ingress sealant will keep blast compression waves (i.e. the "P" or Power Waves) of a major seismic event (9.5+ Richter Scale) or a 20 MEGATON nuclear hit from damaging the interior walls. Plus our compression bolts are two metres long and 4 cm in diameter applying computer-modeled strain against the strata to keep it all stable under a BILLION TONS+ of solid granite mountain weight loads!


          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I'm sure that happened, despite the fact that construction of that scale would be hideously expensive, the company also "manufactured" all the stuff in there, and based on other posts, that hardware is basically equivalent in processing power to all the other equipment on the planet. Meanwhile, you don't actually sell any of that to customers, because we would know about the company. If it actually existed, you could monopolize the high-compute cloud market almost instantly.

            Let me guess: it's a super-secret company which does all the processing for every country's massive data operations, which is why it can exist without us being able to buy anything from you. It gets paid from those massive treasuries, only through secret allocations so we can't read the transfers. The company makes a massive profit from this, but inexplicably plows it all into development of more tech they don't let us buy and doesn't ever indicate to the outside world that it's by far the most valuable corporate entity. It's run with a cult of secrecy, which is why none of us know anyone who has considered working there or gotten a job offer. And yet, they let you post long, detailed descriptions of their products and technology on a forum. You never post the name of the company involved, so that must be secrecy enough, right?

            1. StargateSg7

              About $800 Million USD in Construction costs alone (i.e. mining and concrete work) plus another $300 Million USD in computer hardware costs and ancilliary startup costs maybe another $100 million USD.

              Again, it paid for itself within two years of first operation.

              There are many caverns 15 metres wide by 10 metres tall by 50 metres long creating three-level rack-space in each cavern. Total square footage is twenty million square feet (i.e. make it one of the largest data centres in the world!)

              The CPUs are the latest versions of the GaAs custom designed and manufactured in Canada combined CPU/GPU/DSP chips that make this the absolute FASTEST supercomputer in the world after the two other company facilities (one in Vancouver and in an above-ground location in Northern BC)

              Summit, K2 and Tianhe2 do't hold a candle to ANY of our systems!

              THEY BLOW THEM AWAY! Each one is faster than the T500 COMBINED!


              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Sounds like it has more compute power than a Speak & Spell machine at least.

            2. TimMaher Silver badge

              It’s owned by George Soros and was built, as an experiment, by white mice. A lot of the initial wall design, known as the “fjord concept” was proposed by Slartibartfast but later rejected in favour of more conventional building.

          2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            can handle a 20 MEGATON nuclear strike.

            How do you know? Has it been tested?

            1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

              Re: can handle a 20 MEGATON nuclear strike.

              It's northern Canada, would anyone even notice if they had?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: can handle a 20 MEGATON nuclear strike.

              >can handle a 20 MEGATON nuclear strike.

              >How do you know? Has it been tested?

              Scale models presumably :)

              Russia did successfully test a 50 megaton hydrogen bomb though (and had 100MTs) - the better the caves the bigger the bombs.

            3. StargateSg7

              Re: can handle a 20 MEGATON nuclear strike.

              On a technical basis, YES it has been tested at 20 Megatons!

              When you have about 120 ExaFLOPS worth of supercomputing power available, you can simulate ANY physical phenomenon you want including a nuclear strike or ten at the nanoscale by creating a large plasmadynamic simulation which is the same type of data simulation that was used for the W88 two-stage ovaloid nuclear warhead (275 to 475 kilotons variable yield) and the newer Prompt Global Strike-based portable delivery vehicles which are both LIGHTER WEIGHT to fit inside that pointy Spearfisher and Pumpkin Seed/Triangle spaceplane I keep seeing on my high orbit imagers AND they are much more accurate with two stage variable detonation from 10 KT up to 80 KT (you don't need many kilotons to destroy a city -- The Beirut Harbour blast was only2.7 kilotons and look what it did in terms of damage!)

              When you are in a GRANITE mountain which is a VERY dense type of rock, you can protect yourself easily enough from major nuclear strikes. The British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines has a land registry which outlines our location quite readily because mining DEEP inside of a mountain DOES require an actual environmental review plus actual operating and construction permits!

              So our facility is no secret ESPECIALLY since it has 20 million square feet (2 million square metres) of rack space. It's kinda hard to miss in the mining world!


      2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge


        So what does this 2 million square meter mountain complex look like? It sounds impressive. I'm trying to picture it...

        * Is it a 1.4 km by 1.4 km square room?

        * Or is it a 100m by 20 km tunnel?

        * Or maybe it's a 1.6 km diameter circle?

        * An underground pyramid would be kind of cool.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Paris Hilton

        > Everything in Paris leaks! The underground graveyards (ossuuary) underneath Paris just ooze water from everywhere. You can't get away from the dampness because it was all originally a big swamp near a river! That means ANY bunker built there will leak like a seive!

        Fun fact: two of Paris' metro stations were originally built on the surface and then sunk into the ground by digging away underneath them as the ground was so soft.

        (If you follow the link within that article you get to a Google books preview - scroll past a couple of the blank pages to see some historic pictures)

        [Icon: Paris, of course.]

  3. sw guy

    Why, oh why ?

    Why should I request my cloud provider survive a big nuclear bomb, while I am pretty sure this would not be the case for me and my customers ?

    1. StargateSg7

      Re: Why, oh why ?

      We did it because WE CAN and the company owners are "Preppers/Survivalists" being most ex-military types, so they LIKE being all off-grid and prepared for Armageddon. Plus the facility being so filled up with some of the most power supercomputing gear ever made, would be of a major use to rebuild society if Armageddon was to occur. Plus the data it holds is SO VALUABLE that much investment of time, money and materials is used to keep it 100% running 24/7/365 !!!

      It's SIX SIGMA UPTIME at 99.9993% plus computing services runtime here! This facility probably earns the company in NET PROFIT, at least $150 MILLION USD every quarter in financial stock and commodities trading gains, so WHY WOULDN'T THEY PAY BIG MONEY for the best and safest computing facility money could buy?

      It paid for itself within its first two years of operation and its been running since 2005 so that is 13 years of PURE PROFIT! Now THAT is true financial savvy!

      It only costs three million USD per year for the personnel (each of the twenty employees getting $150,000 USD salary!) and the Propane is bought in bulk for millions of litres at a time and since the fuel is stored onsite, there are no issues with pipelines or major price swings. They are SMART investors! They know which side their bread is buttered on! It's the SWEET taste of MONEY honey that keeps them running this facility year after year!


      P.S. And based upon my personal estimates, they have at least 30 YEARS of operation left in that facility before a major redo is required on the interior (i.e. another synthetic seismic survey and concrete wall redo/repair!)

      1. Jan 0 Silver badge

        Re: Why, oh why ?

        Lockdown's really got to you hasn't it?

        1. spudmasterflex

          Re: Why, oh why ?

          I have had a look back through some of his previous posts.

          Fantasist springs to mind here...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why, oh why ?

          If I ever wondered what the result of a very drunken night out, followed by a subsequent RANDY ENCOUNTER, between "bombastic bob" [1] and "amanfromMars" [2], would be like, I suspect that "StargateSg7" has given us THE ANSWER. It's a Live Operational Virtual Environment, with extra neuklear crunchiness, for sure…

          [1] As Blackadder reminds us, "bob" may not be all that they appear…

          [2] Mind you, neither might be "amanfromMars", who seems to have powers of self replication, and, even if not, I am sure possesses alien technology capable of reproduction from same-sex gametes…

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why, oh why ?


        You are chatting shit

      3. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: Why, oh why ?

        Lol. They have to keep buying millions of gallons of propane in bulk, but somehow have 3 years supply.

        1. StargateSg7

          Re: Why, oh why ?

          You buy 3 years worth of supply. In Canada, Bulk Propane prices are about 38 cents per litre which is quite a bit more than our local 12 cents per kilowatt hour electricity rates BUT the owners wanted TRUE off-grid performance so they went with propane-based fuel cell technology.

          You buy in bulk once each tank gets drawn down to about 25% of actual pressurization at about 150 PSI and buy enough to get back up to 600 PSI. If all tanks are full its about three years of supply.

          Propane has a pressurization limit of about 600 PSI where gas volume does not DECREASE easily upon greater pressurization....SOOOOOOOO.... we buy about every two to three years depending upon the fuel cell update cycle which is dependent upon the TYPES of calculations done. We are talking about multiple tanks 4 metres in inner diameter and 30 meters in length with wall thicknesses over 20 cm+ of high strength pressure vessel-grades of steel (there's a calculation you need to do for 600 PSI gasses in terms of wall thickness) That is STILL waaaaaay over 25 million litres of propane that needs to be bought at a time!

          We are getting to the fuel cell membrane proton exchange limits by 2022 AND because of a 3:1 performance increase over the earlier 2005-era models of fuel cell, we will be exchanging ALL the fuel cell out over this year and next with brand new ones, which means our gas supply will last even longer!

          For safety purposes, you create blowout tunnels for the underground tank which direct any explosive breaches of a tank to the outside air so it doesn't create a giant bomb. The funnel shaped tunnels create a rapid expansion of gas that makes a nice outward directed fireball not overly a damaging rock-cracking explosive energy burst if ever there was a MAJOR gas breach.

          GaAs chips do require more electricity because line traces are 280nm wide needing more power at higher frequencies (Clock speed is 60 GHz) vs CMOS chip technology BUT our calculations are so high-speed that actual compute time for specific applications is much faster so in aggregate, we would run about the same amount of overall power usage as CMOS per job BUT we STILL use much more power in total than CMOS because we run 24/7/365 doing more work per year!

          This is NOT a cheap facility to run BUT when you are earning NET about $150 million USD per QUARTER ($600 million per year) worth of financial instruments trading, it makes sense to build and run such a facility on a purely financial basis.

          One owner has a 100+ metre super-yacht and the others own major tall buildings in New York, Toronto, Berlin, London, LA and Vancouver so I think they can EASILY AFFORD to run the place!

          These are MAJOR finance people with money to spare!


          1. StargateSg7

            Re: Why, oh why ?

            And the owners are Aerospace afficionados which is WHY they also own a combined satellite systems/drone-building/supercomputer system chip fab/image sensor manufacturing concern in Western Canada that makes all their custom technical systems for them.

            They custom build everything in-house at their Vancouver and Burnaby, British Columbia facilities which is a completely under-the-radar company. You would NEVER KNOW they build spaceplanes in that Burnaby warehouse and build/run supercomputer chips in that old shipping warehouse-looking East Vancouver building!

            The company owns three Bombardier Global Express business jets the various owners use to jet to their various business and residential locations whenever they feel like it, so its pretty obvious that they ain't hurting financially even in this major COVID pandemic! Most of them have moved back to Vancouver or Victoria, BC to ride out the pandemic because British Columbia hasn't been hit as bad as the USA or the UK and Vancouver itself has had a very very mild winter compared to the rest of North America!

            One owner has been staying on his super-yacht near Monaco for the last 6 months so he is all good and well in his private bubble of family, friends and crew! I just happen to know one of the owners personally since I was in college in Calgary, Canada so I get to play with and work on some nice toys!


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mac Minis descend into Paris nuclear test site


  5. Greg 38

    But... why?!?

    "Scaleway is running a farm of Apple M1 Mac Minis..."

    Apologies for the dense question, but why would anyone want this service? App development? Compiling binaries? If you can vnc or ssh into the server farm, then you clearly have a computer already and one that is likely better than any m1 mac mini. These units are not exactly speed demons with only 8gb ram / 256gb ssd.

    I'm sure there's an obvious purpose for this service. Next round is on me.

    1. Colin Wilson 2

      Re: But... why?!?

      The latest version of Apple's desktop operating system - macOS, lets you run iPhone apps if you are using it on a Mac with one of these new ARM-based M1 CPUs.

      So I guess this is intended to allow iPhone app developers to test their apps work OK on a desktop Mac. - without going to the expense of buying one.The cheapest M1 Mac costs £699

      1. Greg 38

        Re: But... why?!?

        Ok, thanks for answering. That's much more helpful than those chaps who thumbs-downed a serious question.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: But... why?!?

      Some of the users are probably cross-platform developers who don't need to buy a Mac when they can rent one. Possibly some others need to run Mac-specific software for some reason though I don't know what that is. Probably the largest group are developers who use Macs already, own Intel-powered ones, but want to ensure their stuff runs on ARM Macs even though they don't want to purchase one themselves yet. Those groups probably account for the majority of customers for that service.

  6. Potemkine! Silver badge

    we were impressed with the gleaming tilework on show

    I love the "métro" tiles. However, I know first hand it's a real PITA to put on a wall, they are very small (15 x 7.5 cm in their original formal) and a huge number of them is required.

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