Microsoft wants to move their land-based, hot, noisy and wildly energy-expensive computer data centers to the bottom of the ocean. In fact, the first one is up and running.
The company’s project Natick is in the second phase of actually operating the first data center near the coast of Scotland. Near Scotland’s Orkney Islands to be precise. Orkney Islands is is an archipelago in the Northern Isles of Scotland, situated off the north coast of Great Britain.
Given the density of populations along the world’s coasts, Microsoft says sub sea data centers could make for more efficient web browsing, with the ability to support smoother video streaming and game play.
Microsoft’s 40-foot-long Northern Isles data center sits roughly 117 feet beneath the surface. Not only does it aim to cut down on the distances data must travel to reach communities, but it could also make for more environmentally sustainable operations.
The submerged data center is already processing workloads via 12 racks of 864 servers. The system requires just under a quarter of a megawatt of power when operating.
The shipping container-sized set-up also includes cooling technology, but much of the usual logistics and costs surrounding this have been eliminated thanks to the ocean’s naturally low temperatures at depth.
The underwater data centers could eventually be ordered to size and deployed quickly, with the ability to operate underwater for years on end.
‘That is kind of a crazy set of demands to make,’ said Peter Lee, corporate vice president of Microsoft AI and Research, who leads the New Experiences and Technologies (NExT) group. ‘Natick is trying to get there.