Microsoft Builds Underwater Data Centers

The ocean is home to a lot of unusual relics of human existence, from a Texas-sized garbage patch, to barnacle-encrusted oil rigs to gold-bullion-filled shipwrecks. Now, scientists are expecting to add cloud computing data centers to the list.Microsoft Research has assembled a prototype data center that it lately installed beneath the waves off the California shore. In the end, the fresh research effort, called Project Natick, plans to use seawater to cool the tens of thousands of computers used in an average data center. Constructing submerged data centers may also accelerate data delivery, the researchers affected say.”Half of the planet ‘s population lives within 200 kilometers [124 miles] of the sea, so bringing data centers to the ocean made a tremendous quantity of sense in order to make the real cable to our clients as short as possible,” Jeff Kramer, a research engineer with Microsoft, said in a video about the job. [The 10 Most Outrageous Environmental Thoughts]Energy hogsData centers are very energy intensive; in 2013 they gobbled up about 91 billion kilowatthours of electricity, or the energy generated by 34 coal-fired power plants, as stated by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Much of that energy goes toward cooling the glaring hot computer chips in the server stands.What is more, businesses generally set data centers in distant regions, including the enormous Google data center located in The Dalles, Oregon, as the enormous quantity of land needed is less expensive there. However, as cloud computing becomes the standard, more people’s vital data is kept in these far flung areas, meaning the advice must go a longer distance, taking longer to get to the end user.Longterm ocean dwellersWhile the theory seems outlandish, Microsoft’s submerged server capsule relies on many recognized technologies. The servers are normal servers encased in a steel drum 8 feet (2.4 m) in diameter, with strong bolts and fittings to make it watertight. The steel drum is fitted with tubes and cables that transfer heat from the hot processors in to the cool ocean exterior. The computer chips placed indoors are cooled with liquid nitrogen.Long term, the team expects these capsules can sit in the seafloor, gently powering the world’s Internet use, with no care for five years. So that the team must make progress in the stuff to make a reality, based on a press release.At the moment, cables snake out from the water to the coastline to power the servers. But one day, the team expects to produce the electricity to control the servers beneath the waves by using submerged turbines.In November 2015, the team used a crane to drop the server 30 feet (9 m) below the water’s surface off the Central California coast. After 105 days, the team discovered the servers performed better than they expected, even running some commercial cloud applications. To see whether the job is feasible, Microsoft is intending to deploy additional submerged servers off the shore of Florida or someplace in Northern Europe.

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