Challenge Natick: Microsoft Exams Placing Knowledge Facilities Beneath the Sea

Knowledge facilities retailer large quantities of data that our computer systems and smartphones entry every single day from "the cloud." Historically, they’ve all been constructed on land, typically in distant places, however Microsoft thinks there could also be a bonus to placing them underwater.

On Monday, the corporate unveiled Venture Natick, an initiative that’s testing the deployment of a knowledge middle beneath the ocean’s floor. The thought is that going underwater might drastically scale back the price of cooling knowledge facilities, which is not any small process given all the warmth the servers generate. The electrical energy that powers the info facilities might come from renewable wave or tidal energy. And finding knowledge facilities nearer to the people who depend on them reduces "latency," making for speedier downloads, streaming video and Net shopping. (Microsoft researchers word that half of the world’s inhabitants lives inside one hundred twenty miles of the ocean.)

Project Natick: Microsoft Tests Putting Data Centers Under the Sea Project Natick: Microsoft Tests Putting Data Centers Under the Sea

Microsoft's Venture Natick vessel being deployed. Microsoft

"That is speculative know-how, within the sense that if it seems to be a good suggestion, it is going to immediately change the economics of this enterprise," says Norm Whitaker, who heads particular tasks for Microsoft Analysis NExT, "There are many shifting elements, plenty of planning that goes into this. That is extra a device that we will make out there to knowledge middle companions. In a troublesome state of affairs, they might flip to this and use it."

Thus far, the staff has solely examined one underwater knowledge middle. It was positioned inside a ten-by-7-foot container vessel named the Leona Philpot (a personality in Microsoft’s "Halo" online game) that was deployed off the coast of central California final August. After a one hundred-plus-day trial, that vessel is now again on land, and the workforce is analyzing the outcomes. So far, it appears promising, Microsoft says.


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The researchers say the subsequent part might contain a knowledge middle inside a vessel 4 occasions the dimensions of the Leona Philpot, with as a lot as 20 occasions the computing energy.

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When will the underwater knowledge facilities make it to market? Microsoft stresses that Undertaking Natick is within the analysis stage. "It is nonetheless early days in evaluating whether or not this idea might be adopted by Microsoft and different cloud service suppliers," the venture’s web site says.