Microsoft launches undersea, free-cooling data center


A free supply of already-cooled deep-sea water is among the benefits to locating pre-packaged data centers underwater, believes Microsoft, which recently announced the successful launch of a submarine-like data center off the coast of the Orkney Islands in Scotland.

The shipping-container-sized, self-contained server room, called Project Natick, submerged earlier this month on a rock shelf 117 feet below the water’s surface also has the benefit of potentially taking advantage of bargain-basement real estate near population centers — there’s no rent in open sea.

“Project Natick is an out-of-the-box idea to accommodate exponential growth in demand for cloud computing infrastructure near population centers,” John Roach writes on Microsoft’s website.

Microsoft is implementing its sunken project in cold North Sea water off Scotland, which isn’t a population-dense area. If the concept proves successful, there’s no reason similar tube-like structures couldn’t be slid, rent-free, into water anywhere land values are high, and where end-user edge-computing is required.

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