Microsoft working on new data centers to be plunged into the depths.
Often erected in the middle of a no man's land, data centers may soon plunge into the oceans. The New York Times reports that Microsoft has successfully conclude the first phase of an experiment in this direction. For over three months, a capsule containing a set of servers was immersed about ten meters deep, near the California coast.
Established in 2014, the Natick Project aims to place under the million machines waters that feed the cloud. For Microsoft, the challenge is threefold.
To function properly, computer grouped into the existing infrastructure need to be cooled. For this, the data storage giants spend millions of dollars in air conditioning. Diving these infrastructures would prevent the heater, and at lower cost. If the idea of a water cooling for a data center is not new, completely burying it beneath the surface is technically more ambitious.
Furthermore, data centers are often installed in very remote areas and therefore remote populations. For the user, this can sometimes result in significant latency. On its website, Microsoft states that 50% of people live near oceans. Place the server close to the coast so would shorten the way to go by the data and thus improve the quality of service.
Finally, Microsoft wants to one day use the strength of the tides to produce the energy needed to operate the machines. A more distant goal but could again secure major financial savings.
Microsoft - The team of the Project Natick
According to the company, the first tests were conclusive. No leakage was observed and equipment functioned properly. It remains several steps before you can deploy the large-scale system. In case of malfunction, you can not send a technician on site. As recalled by the New York Times, the challenge is to develop robust enough servers to not require maintenance for periods of up to five years.
In addition, Microsoft teams know they are expected at the turn of the impact of these containers on the environment. Acoustic tests were performed by the company. According to engineers, the noise generated would be "drowned out by that of shrimp." The heat would also be negligible. An upcoming trial could take place in the coming months, Florida or Europe.