Microsoft Just Dumped a Data Center Into the Ocean

Anna Jefferson
June 8, 2018

That power will come from the European Marine Energy Centre's tidal turbines and wave energy converters, which generate electricity from the movement of the sea. "Naval Group's deep expertise in innovative marine technologies, including renewables, makes it an ideal choice for collaboration on Phase 2's design, fabrication, and deployment of a standard, manufacturable, rapidly deployable datacenter".

The company has already experimented with one such data centre back in 2016 with a 30-foot Natick pod situated near the coast of California to test the feasibility of the project.

Microsoft shares closed a little higher in the US Tuesday, ahead of a new energy efficiency test where it has sunk a new data centre off the Scottish islands of Orkney.

The submerged data center includes 864 servers and 27.6 petabytes of storage - or almost 28 million gigabytes.

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The first stage of Project Natick showed the underwater concept is feasible while phase two is focused on investigating whether the concept is logistically, environmentally and economically practical.

Why take all this effort to dunk data centers underwater? "The water just metres downstream would get a few thousandths of a degree warmer at most", he said in the report. The idea is to use the sea as a natural coolant, helping to reduce the energy needed to run the center. If the project proves to be a success, Microsoft hopes to sink more data centers near coastal cities - with the ultimate goal of getting the centers operational within 90 days of the decision to deploy.

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.

Microsoft said: "More than half of the world's population lives within about 120 miles of the coast".

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It is 12.2 metres long and 3.18 metres wide, and contains 12 racks with 864 servers in total supplemented by field programmable gate array (FPGA) accelerator cards.

Microsoft says the underwater data centers are built to last up to 20 years, though they have an anticipated real lifespan of five years.

Next, these can be powered by wind mills located near the water, so you'd never have to worry about outages or energy costs. Cooling is one of the biggest costs associated with operating a conventional data center, so if submersing them can help save in that area, it's good news indeed.

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