Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

Microsoft sinks sea-cooled data centre off Orkney coast

Microsoft sinks sea-cooled data centre off Orkney coast

Being below the sea also helps to naturally cool the 864 servers, which are as powerful as several thousand PCs.

Microsoft's Project Natick aims to lessen the environmental impact of data centers by submerging them in coastal waters to keep them cool and provide coastal communities with better service.

An undersea cable brings the data centre power and takes its data to the shore and the wider Internet - but if the computers onboard break, they can not be repaired. While it will not replace large-scale.

Microsoft has leveraged the technologies of submarines and renewable energy to plunge a 40ft-long datac entre into the sea near Scotland's Orkney Islands.

Because there are no people on board, the engineers could remove all the oxygen and most of the water vapour from the atmosphere to reduce the risk of... Project Natick is the name of the test pilot that uses a small data center, packed into a shipping container and dropped to the bottom of the sea.

On the consumer side, subsea data centers could bring faster, smoother connection for internet users.

More than half the world's population lives less than 200 kilometres from the coast, Microsoft noted.

This is not the first time that Microsoft is testing energy efficient data center prototype.

Powering this submerged data center is the European Marine Energy Center that relies on tidal turbines and wave energy converters to generate electricity from sea movement.

The downside is that if the computers on board break, they can not be repaired.

Engineers slide racks of Microsoft servers and associated cooling system infrastructure into Project Natick's Northern Isles datacenter at a Naval Group facility in Brest, France.

Data centres are the backbone of the Internet, the physical clouds of cloud computing where customers leverage economies of scale to securely store and process data, train machine learning models and run AI algorithms.

Microsoft is doing something that sounds very odd at first glance; it has taken a fully functional data center and sunk it into the dark ocean depths.

The presence of EMEC, with its expertise in renewable energy and its knowledge of the seas around Orkney, was one factor behind Microsoft's decision to choose this location. Microsoft's Project Natick team will monitor and record the performance of the datacentre over the next 12 months.

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