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Microsoft deploys underwater data center off the coast of Scotland

08 June, 2018, 17:08 | Author: Sara Gill
  • Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media captionWATCH Microsoft's underwater data centre

This is a lot smaller than the conventional data centers that can cover the enter distance of a football field, some 300-feet.

Project Natick aims to accommodate the expected exponential growth in demand for cloud computing infrastructure near population centers leveraging technology from submarines.

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

Microsoft has submerged an experimental data center into the ocean floor of the Northern Isles near Scotland.

The software giant was able to cram 12 server racks into the data center, but those racks have enough storage for five million movies. Cooling costs account for a significant proportion of the total cost of running traditional data centers, but the undersea data center will be cooled by the seawater that surrounds it.

The underwater data centre concept was originally presented in a white paper prepared for a Microsoft event called ThinkWeek that encourages employees to share out-of-the-box ideas.


It "will be left in the sea for a set period of time before being recovered, [and] can hold data and process information for up to five years without maintenance". Now, the company is looking to do the same off the coast of the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, an archipelago northeast of Scotland.

Given the density of populations along the world's coasts, Microsoft says subsea datacenters could make for more efficient web browsing, with the ability to support smoother video streaming and gameplay. 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.

Project Natick is now in its second phase, with the initial part of the program having determined that underwater data centres are feasible through the deployment of a submerged facility off the coast of California in 2016.

The cylinder containing the servers is 12.2 meters long and 2.8 meters in diameter.

The presence of EMEC, with its expertise in renewable energy and its knowledge of the seas around Orkney, was one factor behind Microsoft's decision to choose this location. However, Microsoft engineers expect fewer problems of this kind than land-based data centres.

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