Microsoft’s Project Natick Test-Drives a Data Center Under the Sea – The Atlantic

Underwater data centers!

Posted from WordPress for Android


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Devilishly Advocative: Microsoft Heats Ocean; Builds Skynet’s Safe Haven

    Have you heard that Microsoft is testing underwater data centers? On the surface (well, actually on the ocean floor) it’s not a bad idea. Project Natick seals a node of servers in a steel pipe for an undersea adventure planned for at least 10 years. The primary reason is to utilize cold ocean temperatures to keep the machines cool as they crunch through your incessant Candy Crush Saga sessions.

    Passive cooling is wonderful, and really drops the energy footprint of a data center, albeit a very small one which is being tested. Scaled up, I can think of another big impact: property taxes. Does anyone know what the law says about dropping a pod in the ocean?

    I see a big parallel if Project Natick takes off. Presumably there will be thousands of the data center pods. They don’t need to be weaponized, recovering them from the floor of the ocean would be more risk than reward for a would-be thief. Tapping undersea communications has long been a tool of spycraft so data security is something to consider. And if total deployment numbers were to reach millions we may have an ocean warming problem to face.

    This Is Why Microsoft Is Putting Data Servers In The Ocean
    20,000 servers under the sea?

    Sticking a computer underwater isn’t a great idea. (PSA: DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!) But if you happen to be Microsoft, sticking a whole bunch of computer servers under the sea might just be a brilliant idea.

    Leona Philpot


    Leona Philpot

    Microsoft’s prototype underwater server capsule, the Leona Philpot, about to be lowered into the water.

    Sticking a computer underwater isn’t a great idea. (PSA: DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!) But if you happen to be Microsoft, sticking a whole bunch of computer servers under the sea might just be a brilliant idea.

    See, data centers, or buildings where all of the internet is processed use a ton of energy. No, really. In the United States alone, they annually suck up the equivalent of the energy output of 34 coal-fired power plants. A lot of that energy goes to powering the actual servers, but almost half of it goes to keeping the servers nice and cool, so they don’t overheat and crash, sending us all into the apocalypse keeping parts of the internet offline for a while.

    Computer scientists and architects have employed all kinds of methods for keeping data centers cool, from building data centers in cool climates to putting bags of liquid coolant inside server banks to using heat from data centers to warm buildings and heat water.

    But Microsoft has a different idea: dump the servers deep in the ocean, where the cool temperatures of the surrounding water will keep the servers cool 24/7, regardless of the seasons on the surface.

    “Project Natick” is still in the research phase. Microsoft ran a successful test last year, submerging servers in a vessel called the Leona Philpot

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A research project to determine the feasibility of subsea datacenters

    Project Natick seeks to understand the benefits and difficulties in deploying subsea datacenters worldwide. We did so by designing, building, and deploying our own subsea datacenter in the ocean, all in about a year. This is the story of the Leona Philpot and Project Natick.

    Microsoft’s underwater datacenter: Project Natick

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Microsoft’s Project Natick: Underwater Data Center Takes The Plunge

    Microsoft is testing an undersea data center through its new research initiative, Project Natick. The watery locale supposedly will lower costs, boost environmental sustainability, and accelerate deployment.

    Data centers drain energy and generate massive amounts of heat. This has forced companies to get creative with how they house their data and regulate the temperature of devices storing it.

    Deltalis RadixCloud data center, for example, is naturally cooled by chilly air and water in the Swiss Alps, where it occupies a former Swiss Air Force control center. Iron Mountain stores data in an underground limestone mine located in Pennsylvania.

    Microsoft is pushing the boundaries of data storage with Project Natick.

    Microsoft’s Project Natick: Underwater Data Center Takes The Plunge

    Microsoft aims to explore the possibility of an undersea data center for lower costs and environmental sustainability with its Project Natick.

    It was Feb. 2013 when Microsoft employee Sean James, who had served on a Navy submarine, introduced the idea of an underwater data center powered by ocean energy.

    One year later, a prototype submarine was deployed one kilometer off the California coast. The team was concerned about hardware problems and packed the steel capsule with 100 sensors to gauge motion, pressure, and humidity, reported the New York Times.

    The prototype was tested and monitored for 105 days between Aug. 2015 and Nov. 2015. After a successful first try, engineers decided to continue the experiment. The team is currently working on an undersea system three times the size of its prototype, which measured eight feet in diameter.

    On Project Natick’s website, Microsoft explains how the project could reduce latency for people living near the coast. Half of the world’s population lives within 200km of the ocean, it says, and offshore data centers could boost Web speeds because of their close proximity to shore.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *