Business

Microsoft sinks data center off Scottish island

Share
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

All data centers have servers that generate massive amounts of heat, requiring even more machinery to keep them cool and running. The hope is that the test goes well and Microsoft can eventually deploy similar portable data centers off the coast of major cities.

Over the next year, all aspects of the data center, including power consumption and internal humidity levels, will be monitored by the team. There, another partner, the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), provided help including the undersea cable linking the centre to the shore. In 2013, Facebook began utilizing the frigid temperatures of northern Sweden to cool its Luleå data center.

Data centres in the water near coastal cities puts them closer to users, improving the performance of web apps and services, video streaming, games and the delivery of realistic artificial intelligence experiences, the company said.

Spencer Fowers of Microsoft's special projects research group seals a logo onto Project Natick's Northern Isles datacenter in preparation for deployment.

This marks the second phase of Project Natick, which kicked off in 2015 when Microsoft unloaded a mini-data center off the central California coast, where it ran for 105 days.

The experimental shipping container-sized prototype, called "Project Natick", is now in operation on the seafloor next to the European Marine Energy Centre, just off the Northern Isles.

"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.

The software giant was able to cram 12 server racks into the data center, but those racks have enough storage for five million movies. The company says that almost 50% of the world population lives near the coast so why shouldn't our data be there.

United States tech giant Microsoft has submerged a data center off the Orkney archipelago in northern Scotland in a project to save on the energy used to cool the servers on land, the firm said on Wednesday, June 6.

The sea offers ready and free access to cooling - which is one of the biggest costs for land-based data centres.

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.

Share