Microsoft drops datacentre into Atlantic Ocean off coast of Scotland

08 June, 2018, 17:09 | Author: Kevin Carter
  • Microsoft’s effort to build underwater datacenter reaches next phase

The reason that Orkney was chosen by Microsoft was because of its renewable energy network of tidal power and wind turbines, which would power the data centers.

The data center is placed in a cylinder that was made by shipbuilder Naval.

As the BBC reports, this experimental data center is called Project Natick and takes the form of a sealed cylinder packed full of 12 racks of servers.

Microsoft on Wednesday tested an undersea data center, which the technology giant claims is quick to deploy and could provide internet connectivity for years.

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

The second part of Project Natick focuses on determining whether subsea data centres are logistically, environmentally and economically practical.

Why this matters: Computers in data centers get really hot, so finding alternatives to conventional cooling systems can save money and reduce a company's carbon footprint.

More news: China's ZTE signs preliminary agreement to lift USA ban

The latest datacentre, a 40-foot long water-proof container, houses a total of 864 servers and associated cooling systems and will be submerged 117 feet to the seafloor. Microsoft engineers said the submarine server performed more than it was expected after running for 105 days. Project Natick is now operating at about 100 ft below the surface of the North Sea near the UK's Orkney islands, fully powered by renewable energy.

Microsoft announced the deployment of the data centre, named Northern Isles, on Tuesday.

Microsoft was also quick to highlight that much of the world's population lives within 120 miles of a coast, and as populations continue to increase, demand for fast web surfing and video streaming will rise exponentially.

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.

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.

Microsoft says the underwater data centers are built to last up to 20 years, though they have an anticipated real lifespan of five years. Combined with the cost savings from dealing with heat naturally and the security offered by being on the sea floor, you end up with what could be the obvious next step for data centers.

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