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Microsoft Deploys Underwater Prototype Data Center With 864 Servers off the Scottish Coast

Microsoft deploys underwater datacenter off the Scottish coast

Microsoft has placed an experimental data center the size of a shipping container on the seafloor near Scotland's Orkney Islands to test the feasibility of saving energy by naturally cooling it in the sea. The experiment named Project Natick is a "year-long research effort to investigate manufacturing and operating environmentally sustainable, prepackaged datacenter units that can be ordered to size, rapidly deployed and left to operate lights out on the seafloor for years," says Microsoft. "More than half of the world's population lives within about 120 miles of the coast. By putting datacenters in bodies of water near coastal cities, data would have a short distance to travel to reach coastal communities, leading to fast and smooth web surfing, video streaming and game playing as well as authentic experiences for AI-driven technologies."

Microsoft provided following additional details on the datacenter and its deployment:

— Project Natick's 40-foot long Northern Isles datacenter is loaded with 12 racks containing a total of 864 servers and associated cooling system infrastructure. The datacenter was assembled and tested in France and shipped on a flatbed truck to Scotland where it was attached to a ballast-filled triangular base for deployment on the seabed.

— The most complex task of the day was the foot-by-foot lowering of the datacenter and cable 117 feet to the rock slab seafloor. The marine crew used 10 winches, a crane, a gantry barge and a remotely operated vehicle that accompanied the datacenter on its journey.

— The Project Natick team will spend the next 12 months monitoring and recording the performance of the datacenter, keeping tabs on everything from power consumption and internal humidity levels to sound and temperature levels.

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