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Microsoft Sinks Underwater Data Center for Project Natick Testing

Microsoft Sinks Underwater Data Center for Project Natick Testing

by Sarah Pereau | 07 Jun 2018

Microsoft recently dropped a data center underwater off the coast of Scotland as part of Phase II of Project Natick, Microsoft’s research project for testing underwater data centers.

The vessel, named the “Northern Isles Data Center,” was launched from the European Marine Energy Center. Ben Cutler, Project Natick Manager, Microsoft, states that the facility is the “largest test site in the world for offshore renewable energies.”

The project selected Naval Group in France to lead in the design of the data centers and the deployment in Phase II.

Phase I of the project, launched in August 2015, aimed to test the data center equipment. The first phase confirmed that a data center can be remotely operated and the equipment can withstand the underwater environment for long periods of time.

Phase II launched in June 2018 to test the development process of the data centers. Using submarine technology and renewable energy, Microsoft has demonstrated that the “data center modules can be deployed in under 90 days from decision to power on.”

According to Microsoft, the data centers are essentially “prepackaged” with enough computers to store 5 million films and can be “ordered to size and rapidly deployed.” One of the great benefits of the data centers is that they are environmentally friendly – made from recycled materials, sustainable, and “co-located with offshore renewable energy” for zero emission.” The anticipated lifespan of the vessels is 5 years, after which they will be retrieved and recycled.

“50% of us live near the coast. Why doesn’t our data?” – Microsoft Project Natick

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Valerie Stephen