Microsoft Tests Undersea Data Center

Microsoft researchers believe that the solution to ever-expanding demand for computing power could lie offshore.

Mnet 191014 Microsoft

Microsoft researchers believe that the solution to ever-expanding demand for computing power could lie offshore.

The New York Times recently chronicled the first trial of Project Natick, which aims to build data centers that can reside on the ocean floor.

An eight-foot prototype metal capsule recently spent more than 100 days beneath 30 feet of water off the California coast and emerged surprisingly unscathed.

The project, developed by Microsoft's revamped research arm, could eventually build many larger data centers in networks beneath hundreds of feet of water.

Modern data centers contain servers that can crash when overheated; submerging them in the ocean could keep them cool without racking up substantial air conditioning bills.

In addition, the servers could be placed near urban centers — thereby reducing latency — and could be linked to ocean-based alternative energy systems.

The system raises environmental and technical concerns, but designers said that the capsules should last five years without maintenance while adding very little heat or noise to the marine environment.

Microsoft is already designing a larger prototype and a second trial is set to begin next year.

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