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Microsoft’s underwater data center is rising from the ocean floor to a filthy success

Illustration for article titled Microsoft's Underwater Data Center Rising From The Sea Floor A Dirty Success

Screenshot:: Microsoft / YouTube (Fair use)

Microsoft’s underwater data center in the North Islands has risen againm the depth of the ocean, the company announced on Mondayand it is remarkably intact except that it is covered with sea foam.

The data center that Microsoft sunk under 117 feet of water on the coast of Scotland’s Orkney Islands in 2018 – resembles a large, airtight fuel tank. After two years on the ocean floor, it is now covered in algae, barnacles and cantaloupe-sized sea anemones. Microsoft Special Projects researcher Spencer Fowers said in the announcement the company was “pretty impressed” with the lack of “hardened marine growth.”

Inside, 864 servers with a storage and cooling infrastructure totaling 27.6 petabytes defy the elements in an atmosphere of inert gas – Microsoft found these conditions European Ocean Energy Center Test site can include tidal currents and nine miles per hour 60 foot waves in storms. In fact, Microsoft claimed that the devices performed better than land-based systems. Project leader Natick said Ben Cutler in the blog post that the northern islands only had an eighth of the failure rates that would have been expected in a traditional data center, and that the region’s power grid, which consists of 100 percent wind and sun, was “really good”.

This confirms the hypothesis of the seaFloor is Preferred for server farms over topside environments where equipment can be damaged by corrosion from oxygen and moisture, constant temperature changes, and physical movement during maintenance. The undersea of ​​data centers can also allow closer placement for customers and obviously make cooling a lot easierand Microsoft previously suggested that it might powered by tide generators. The units are also portable and can be easily scaled major operations.

An obvious problem is that on-site repairs are not possible, even though Microsoft wrote in the blog post that servers in data centers with no light are replaced twice a decade. The enterprise hopes the increased reliability of subsea servers means “The few that fail early are simply taken offline. “

The Verdict reported in 2018 that the potential environmental impact of underwater data centers is unclear; A unit can have a negligiEffects on the local Temperature, but masses of them can have a noticeable effect on Sealife.

“While companies like Microsoft can have significant advantages in moving data storage systems offshore, the impact of structures in the marine environment, especially those that generate significant local heat, needs to be studied,” Portsmouth University marine ecologist Gordon Watson said Judgment. Watson added that each site must be assessed for environmental impact and that “IIt’s not that easy (at least in countries where marine planning legislation has advanced) just stick something to the seabed and reclaim it five years later. “

There is also the problem of falling returns. Leeds Beckett University Dean Colin Pattinson of the School of Computing, Creative Technologies and Engineering said Wired In 2018, while underwater data centers are worth a try, the efficiency gains to reduce electricity demand will decrease over time.

“We are now effectively trying to get even more savings with the same base technology,” Pattinson told Wired. “We could reduce the rate of increase, but the energy demand that data centers create based on the volume of data we produce will still increase.”

The next phase of the Natick project will demonstrate the ease of use Removal and recycling.

“We are now about to capitalize on what we did instead of feeling the need to prove even more,” Cutler said in the announcement. “We did what we had to do. Natick is an important building block for the company when it is appropriate. “

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