Microsoft sinks data centre in sea near Orkney

Microsoft sinks data centre in sea near Orkney

Companies like Microsoft (msft) and Facebook (fb) that operate huge data centers tend to spend a lot of money and effort in cooling the facilities, which can run very hot due to the tremendous amount of servers and gear that essentially power a large portion of the Internet.

Ocean's Five: Microsoft has run multiple experiments like this, including one off the US Pacific coast, but this is the most ambitious to date. The Microsoft team presented Naval Group with general specifications for the underwater datacenter and let the company take the lead on the design and manufacture of the vessel. In 2013, Facebook began utilizing the frigid temperatures of northern Sweden to cool its Luleå data center. Since most of the world's population lives within about 120 miles of the coast, data needs to travel less distance to reach coastal people.

"Future Natick research will explore directly powering a Natick datacenter by a co-located ocean-based green power system, such as offshore wind or tide, with no grid connection", reads an entry on the Microsoft website.

Microsoft has deployed a submarine-like data center off the coast of Orkney in Scotland, housing hundreds of servers under the sea with the aim of boosting internet speeds and improving environmental sustainability.

The Northern Isles data center contains 12 server racks and 864 servers.

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"We think we actually get much better cooling underwater than on land", Ben Cutler, the leader of Project Natick, told the BBC.

The European Marine Energy Centre in Scotland is an ideal locale to test the idea because it already serves as a test site for experimental tidal turbines and wave energy converters that generate electricity from the movement of seawater, according to Microsoft.

The world's oceans at depth are consistently cold, offering ready and free access to cooling, which is one of the biggest costs for land-based datacenters.

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

If Project Natick proves to be a success, the deployment times of data center could be cut short from two years to 90 days which will help in making the servers go live real quick.

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