Thursday, 21 June, 2018

Microsoft just put another data center underwater

The system uses seawater to cool the servers saving on energy costs The system uses seawater to cool the servers saving on energy costsFRANCK BETERMIN
Preston Stone | 08 June, 2018, 11:31

Microsoft is pursuing what it calls a "relevant moonshot"; projects the company believes have the potential to transform the core of its business and the wider cloud computing industry.

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.

While Phase one of Project Natick confirmed that underwater datacenter concept is feasible, Phase two is focused on researching whether the concept is logistically, environmentally and economically practical.

Now, the Project Natick team will monitor the data centre for the next five years.

More than half the world's population lives less than 200 kilometres from the coast, Microsoft noted.

First, almost half the world's population lives within 150 km (120 miles) of the ocean and that having data centers close to computing hubs means smoother web surfing and less back and forth between users and servers.

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"If we can be within one internet hop of everyone, then it not only benefits our products, but also the products our customers serve", Peter Lee, corporate vice president of Microsoft AI and Research, said in the release. The servers are powered by renewable energy from tidal turbines and wave energy converters. The entire town runs on renewable energy, making the data centers right at home.

The tech giant sunk a 40-foot vessel, which contains 12 racks of computers and 864 servers, off the coast of Orkney, a group of islands located off Scotland. It will remain on the sea bed for five years. And because oceans are uniformly cool below a certain depth, keeping the machines under the sea would cut down the cooling costs that make up a large chunk of the operating budget of data centers.

Microsoft is hoping that the offshore data center will have a lower failure rate than data centers on land.

This is a really small data center but the number of servers should be enough to provide Microsoft with data to see if scaling up the project makes sense.

"Despite being as powerful as several thousand high-end consumer PCs, the data centre uses minimal energy as it's naturally cooled".

This wouldn't be the first time when Microsoft has tested this idea.

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