Back in June 2018, Microsoft had submerged a prototype data center into the sea near the Northern Isles. The software-giant wanted to test whether underwater data centers are feasible or not. The idea was simple: an underwater data center can provide faster and low-latency data access to countries and places which have less land mass and are near large coastal areas. The ocean provides natural cooling and a controlled environment. Not to forget an underwater data center can also be powered by renewable energy sources. The entire project is called Project natick.
Now, after two years, Microsoft has pulled out the prototype data center from 117-feet deep inside the sea and has announced Project Natick a success.
“The team hypothesized that a sealed container on the ocean floor could provide ways to improve the overall reliability of data centers. On land, corrosion from oxygen and humidity, temperature fluctuations and bumps and jostles from people who replace broken components are all variables that can contribute to equipment failure, ”said Microsoft in an official post confirming that underwater data centers are reliable, practical and use energy sustainably.
WATCH VIDEO: Project Natick- Microsoft wants to put data centers under the sea
01:44Project Natick- Microsoft wants to put data centers under the sea
You might be still finding this weird and may question the need for Project Natick. But with the demand for reliable and sustainable data centers growing, putting data centers under underwater may make complete sense a few years from now.
“More than half the world’s population lives within 120 miles of the coast. By putting data centers underwater near coastal cities, data would have a short distance to travel, leading to fast and smooth web surfing, video streaming and game playing, ”explained Microsoft.
Microsoft engineers had sealed the data center inside a large steel tube and packed in with nitrogen before submerging it. “Our failure rate in the water is one-eighth of what we see on land,” said Ben Cutler, a project manager in Microsoft’s Special Projects research group who leads Project Natick.
“The team hypothesizes that the atmosphere of nitrogen, which is less corrosive than oxygen, and the absence of people to bump and jostle components, are the primary reasons for the difference,” he added.