Microsoft Deploys Project Natick Self-Sustaining Underwater Data Center Off Scottish Coast
07 June, 2018, 14:10 | Author: Tara Roberts
The company hopes that it'll eventually ideal this system of deploying data centers that are cheaper to run for years on end.
This is a tiny data centre compared with the giant sheds that now store so much of the world's information, just 12 racks of servers but with enough room to store five million movies.
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. The servers are powered by renewable energy from tidal turbines and wave energy converters. EMEC's presence was one of the major factors that led Microsoft to choose the Orkney location.
More than half of the world's population lives within about 120 miles of the coast.
Experts say the cost of cooling the computers will be cut by putting them under water. By sinking undersea data centers near these coastal cities, Microsoft enables faster web surfing, video streaming, and game playing, while also bolstering cloud-based AI capabilities.
Cindy Rose, chief executive of the technology giant, said: "Microsoft is exploring the idea that data centres - essentially the backbone of the internet - can be based on the sea floor". It can lie on the seabed for up to five years.
"Despite being as powerful as several thousand high-end consumer PCs, the data centre uses minimal energy as it's naturally cooled".
Spencer Fowers, senior member of technical staff for Microsoft's special projects research group, prepares Project Natick's Northern Isles datacenter for deployment off the coast of the Orkney Islands in Scotland. The North Sea is a rather unforgiving body of water, with frequent storms and strong currents, and Microsoft believes that if Project Natick can work here, it can work in an very bad lot of places around the globe.
It will not be possible to fix the computers if they fail, but the hope is that there will be a lower failure rate than on land.
Microsoft is hoping that the offshore data center will have a lower failure rate than data centers on land.
The cylinder was built in France by shipbuilding company Naval and driven to the Orkney Islands, an archipelago of around 70 islands.
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