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Microsoft sinks deep sea data centre off Orkney

08 June, 2018, 17:04 | Author: Kristi Dunn
  • Spencer Fowers senior member of technical staff for Microsoft's special projects research group

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

As the second phase of its Project Natick, the company has just deployed a data center in the frigid waters off Scotland's Orkney Islands.

The data center is powered by renewable energy.

Microsoft's first experimental underwater data centre, sunk for five months in 2015, was dubbed Leona Philpot after a character in an XBox game.

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. The capsule hosted a single data center rack that was wrapped in pressurized nitrogen in order to keep it cool.

Ocean's Five: Microsoft has run multiple experiments like this, including one off the US Pacific coast, but this is the most ambitious to date.

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The idea is that seawater cools the banks of enclosed servers naturally, significantly cutting energy costs.

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 successful sinking of the device, called Project Natick, is the result of years of work to see if data centres can be stored offshore in a sustainable and efficient way. Add in to that renewable energy supplied from Orkney and you have a very green data center.

Eventually, Microsoft wants to ramp up and rapidly deploy pre-packaged module data centers everywhere in the world, including "the roughest patchesof sea". The company says that almost 50% of the world population lives near the coast so why shouldn't our data be there.

Last year, Microsoft, along with Google and Amazon, raced to buy data centers to deal with their booming cloud businesses.

It's loaded with 12 racks, for a total of 864 servers and cooling system infrastructure, according to the firm. This will help artificial intelligence-driven technologies thrive in coastal communities and extend out to land-based data centers that are typically located inland to avoid floods, hurricanes, and other troublesome weather.

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