Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Finance | By Jaime Brady

Microsoft Deploys Underwater Data Center

Microsoft Deploys Underwater Data Center

Microsoft has sunk an ocean-based data centre to the sea floor in Orkney to test energy efficiency improvements.

It often costs huge amounts of money and consumes lots of power to keep a data center cool.

Compared to more conventional data centers that can span football fields, Project Natick's underwater facility is a gnat at about 40-feet long and resembles a cylinder-like cargo container typically seen on big, shipping vessels. While it will not replace large-scale.

Orkney is now a major renewable energy research centre, something the country strongly supports.

The hope is that it won't need as much fixing as a traditional data centre anyway, as the server submarine they're sinking will have most of the oxygen and moisture taken out of its atmosphere, hopefully reducing corrosion.

"Project Natick reflects Microsoft's ongoing quest for cloud data center solutions that offer less resource-intensive options, rapid provisioning, lower costs, and high agility in meeting customer needs", Microsoft said.

Having data centres with their own sustainable power supply could boost Internet connectivity around the world as data centres are regarded as the backbone of the Internet and the physical clouds of Cloud.

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According to Lee, everything learned from the deployment - and operations over the next year and eventual recovery - will allow the researchers to measure their expectations against the reality of operating underwater data centres in the real world.

A key point is that repairs can not be made to the servers while it is underwater, for obvious reasons, so should any break, they will not be working again until they return to the surface.

It looks a bit like an oil tanker, but this large white metallic cylinder is actually a highly sophisticated data centre - and it's now lying on the seabed off the coast of Orkney.

French marine engineering company Naval Group designed and built the subsea data centre for Microsoft.

With a total of 27.6 petabytes of disk storage, the data centre has enough space for about five million full length movies. The undersea cable was developed by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), a Microsoft partner in the project.

The Orkney Islands were early adopters of wind energy. Microsoft's Project Natick team will monitor and record the performance of the datacentre over the next 12 months.

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