Magazine article Information Management

Microsoft Looks under the Sea for Future Data Centers

Magazine article Information Management

Microsoft Looks under the Sea for Future Data Centers

Article excerpt

Microsoft researchers believe the future of data centers may lie underwater.

The company said it has tested a prototype of a self-contained data center that can operate hundreds of feet below the surface of the ocean. Because the temperature is chilly down there, the move eliminates an expensive air-conditioning bill, one of the technology industry's biggest obstacles, according to the New York Times.

Modern data centers hold thousands of computer servers that create tons of heat. When there is too much heat, the servers will crash. Putting the equipment under cold ocean water could answer the growing energy demands of the computing world because Microsoft is working on placing the system with either a turbine or a tidal energy system to generate electricity, the Times said.

The project is code-named "Project Natick," and it might require strands of giant steel tubes linked by fiber optic cables to be placed on the seafloor. Or, Microsoft may suspend jelly bean-shaped server containers beneath the surface to capture the ocean current with turbines that generate electricity, according to the Times.

It may sound far-fetched, but researchers believe they could reduce the expense and the deployment time of new data centers from the two years it now requires to just 90 days by mass producing the underwater server containers.

According to the Times, the containers could also help speed up web services. Most people now live in urban centers close to oceans but far from data centers, which are usually built in places with lots of space. …

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