Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Finance | By Cynthia Curry

Microsoft sinks data centre into Scottish sea

Microsoft sinks data centre into Scottish sea

USA 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 Project Natick data center consists of 864 servers tightly arranged inside a shipping container that sits 12km off the coast.

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.

Two years back, Microsoft first revealed its research project Project Natick which explored the possibility of running a datacentre under water.

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.

The unmanned facility contains more than 860 servers and is expected to stay in place for a year, with Microsoft engaging with French submarine engineering company, Navel Group, to design the vessel.

This Davy Jones' data centre is the result of a year's worth of research into environmentally sustainable data storage technology that Redmond hopes could one day be ordered to size, rapidly deployed and left to operate at the bottom of the sea for years.

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

Microsoft submerged one of its data centers in the Atlantic Ocean Wednesday as part of an effort to understand how the machines work on the sea floor.

Data centres are power intensive and create a lot of heat, often needing a lot of energy to cool equipment.

This wouldn't be the first time when Microsoft has tested this idea. The company says that almost 50% of the world population lives near the coast so why shouldn't our data be there.

The island itself runs exclusively on renewable power generated by its own wind turbines and residential solar panels, and is also a sizeable testbed for tidal energy generation.

This is a tiny data centre compared with the giant sheds that now store so much of the world's information, just 12 racks of servers but with enough room to store five million movies.

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