Microsoft tests submersible data centers

The project, named Project Natick, featured a successful prototype trial run last summer.

February 01, 2016 |
Microsoft testing submersible data centers

Photo: Project Natick, via Microsoft

Data centers generate a lot of heat, so engineers are tasked with finding the methods to cool them. Microsoft has not only found a way to do that, but also to make the data centers faster and greener.

The company is experimenting with submerging the data centers into the sea. 

The New York Times reports that Microsoft has tested out its plan, named Project Natick. Last August, a prototype submersible, called Leona Philpot, was placed 30 feet underwater in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.

According to Engadget, the eight-foot steel capsule held a single data center rack and was enveloped in nitrogen to keep it cool. The prototype, which controlled from the Microsoft campus over a 105-day trial, was successful. The data center was equipped with 100 sensors that tracked humidity, motion, and pressure, and didn’t experience and hardware failures or leaks. The data center even ran data-processing projects from Microsoft’s Azure, a cloud computing platform.

While environmental concerns are being taken into account, the data centers are planned to be fully recyclable, and the prototype only emitted a small amount of heat into the nearby waters. 

The research group is planning a new trial with a system that will be three times larger.

 

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