Why Did Microsoft Put a Data Center Underwater?

Why Did Microsoft Put a Data Center Underwater?


“Cloud computing” has been a buzzword
for a few years now, it’s the term for when software, data storage, and processing is
handled remotely in a server somewhere rather than on the local device you’re on. Despite its lofty name though, it doesn’t
take place up in some mystical cloud, but rather inside a mundane data center somewhere on
land. That could one day change though, because
software giant Microsoft thinks that the best place for the cloud might actually be underwater. On its face, it sounds like a ridiculous idea. High-end electronics and water go together like cats and water. But Microsoft thought the potential upsides
were too good to pass up. Firstly, almost half the world’s population
lives within 100 kilometers off shore. If data centers are sunk just off the coast,
they can be in close proximity to population centers, cutting down the physical distance
data has to travel and thus reducing latency. And if these data centers are made up of mass-produced watertight pods that are ready to be deployed whenever demand calls for it, Microsoft estimates
they could set one up in just 90 days. By comparison, a land-based data center needs
to account for local building codes, taxes, climate, electricity connectivity, network
connectivity, and so on, meaning building one could take 18 months to two years. Data centers on land also use a considerable
amount of energy keeping all the electronics cool. Older data centers use mechanical cooling,
basically heavy-duty air-conditioning, which could use almost as much power as the servers
themselves. Newer centers use free-air cooling that relies
on the outside air and evaporated water to bring the energy use down, but they’re at
the mercy of ambient air temperatures and the water supply. An underwater data center can use the nearby
seawater for cooling, and if it’s deep enough the water will be reliably cool year-round,
even in the tropics. Microsoft even envisions these centers powered
by 100% renewable energy. By harnessing the motion of waves or the flow
of water as the tide moves in and out, the servers could be freed from reliance on a
grid that might fail. Tidal energy, in particular, could be the
most reliable source of energy, because what’s more reliable than the tide? With all these benefits in mind, Microsoft
launched Project Natick in 2014. By August 2015, they built a prototype pod with server racks inside and submerged it off the coast of California. The experiment ran for 105 days, and all the
while the servers stayed as cool as those in mechanically cooled data centers while
using only 3% of the pod’s total energy consumption. Satisfied with the first test, Microsoft built
a full-sized pod that’s as big as a shipping container and submerged it in June of 2018. The location they chose was by the Orkney
Islands of north Scotland, which happens to be the home of the European Marine Energy
Centre, the world’s largest test site for tide and wave energy. Microsoft plans to run the pod on the seafloor
for years to test the logistical, environmental, and economic viability of this novel idea. Of course, if they drop it in the sea for
years at a time, that means they can’t perform maintenance on it if something breaks. Microsoft spins this as a good thing, because
if there’s no humans down there mucking with the servers, they can’t break anything
else either. And because there are no humans inside the
pod, Microsoft could remove as much moisture as possible and fill it with nitrogen to keep
connectors inside from corroding. Now we just wait and see if the pod can stay
water-tight, if renewable marine energy can power it, and if the salt-water cooling system
adapted from submarines can run for years without barnacles fouling it up. If the experiment goes smoothly, we may soon
be browsing the web or playing video games on servers tucked inside mass-produced pods
sunk off our shores. Thanks for watching, be sure to subscribe
because we’ll tell you everything you wanted to know about the internet, like in my other video about what the dang thing actually looks like. The Natick pod was intentionally made
the size of a shipping container so it would be easy to transport anywhere in the world. That’s all for now, I’ll see you next
time on Seeker!

100 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Yawn! #DumbDumbernDumbest! #DiverNumbNumberNumbest!From real innovation, to deflation, Micro$oft has "sunk" to a new "low". To cut climate control energy costs substantially, and to stay repairable manually, the logical place for #MicrosoftDataCenters is in on land, somewhere North of Latitude 20, say in #Siberia, where there is permafrost, with power lines from #PhotoVoltaics powered North Africa or the North Sea. You only have to Scuba dive to 10 meters to know how difficult reconnecting a snapped FLAG optic link is, even with motorized actuator HydroBots, let alone getting inside one of these #Hydrodatapods! #gurgle !. And #Microsoft, #TeleDesic has been beaten by #StarLink, already up and running in some geolocations. Its only Google that has metamorphized Windows, by now atleast being abit #responsive to #customerneeds but they have #LightYears to go! #SatyaNadella are you listening ? Give us #StarLink linked #teleDesic even in #Anatarctica at 1Tbps?! And #datacenters in #Siberia, if you can afford one!

  2. Aliens put living cells in the ocean millions years ago to bring life, and now Microsoft is putting computers in water. Well, in a couple of years, be ready, robots will take over the planet.

  3. Why bother with slowly heating the ocean with global warming? Just put our bitcoin mining farms down there. Watch the fish float to the surface.

  4. With what we know about water and it's memory storage and how it's influenced by sound and vibration I wonder how this will affect our water on a long term basis.

  5. and the best thing it is all offshore so no data protection laws of any country matters 👌 facebook has them already in production – awesome

  6. With how fast tech moves, How will they upgrade it? It's gonna be a huge operation requiring massive ships with cranes and fully crewed. Which I'm sure you'd register in a foreign country so you'd pay less, but still, This just seems stupid and illogical.

  7. Lol. Okay dude. The way you just washed over such an important part of the subject. OMG. Into that old out of sight out of mind huh?

  8. The number of idiots in the comments section amazes me. There is a HUGE difference between temperature and heat; the whole point of this is to stop mechanical cooling, so it won't disturb the marine life; we live with radio waves everyday, it won't effect the wildlife. To anyone else with a crazy idea on how Microsoft is destroying our planet, please understand that you know nothing compared to a massive technology company with genius minds from around the globe. They've thought of every contingency, most of which we can't understand. Think before you comment.

  9. Bill Gates!! Look what they did to your Microsoft? They are Sinking datacenter now, but soon they will do this with Microsoft!

  10. Will this warm the water? I want to see the research and money microsoft invested to insure safety first. Kinda worry some to just through these pods anywhere needed

  11. Do they bring the saltwater into the cooling system? Why not use the walls of the container to distribute the excess heat? How about instead pipe pre-filtered water through the container walls to have the container produce free warm water for residential or commercial use?

    I can see how marine life might be attracted to a warm spot in the water, but that can be solved with regular cleaning robots.

    Go total AI and have the container be self-propelling, automatically swarm with other containers to increase total capacity, and when maintenance is required have the containers automatically dock back to a maintenance dock.

  12. This sounds great, however when this becomes a thing, whoever uses this might be warming the surrounding waters and impacting the local ecology. We don’t want to start warming the waters outside their normal fluctuations. Maybe an extra cooling apparatus can be used in conjunction with this technology. This might be powered by using the extra power created by the wave generation process instead of “BIG COMPANIES “ selling back to the local electrical grid. Otherwise this is a great idea.

  13. Why not underwater on a moon/planet out in space? Many gas giant moons have underwater oceans, why not turn them into giant space cloud internet!!!

  14. Data centre=waves of higher frequencies=alterations in wildlife vegetation=isn't it simple to notice=who care keep googlin

  15. don't you guys think this might add up to increasing temperature of ocean temperature which has already bleached 2/3 of corals of Australia and other parts of the world ! #coralbleaching
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fA6mpexcyN4

  16. What about maintenance? Like when a hard drive or a chip fails what do you do? Halt entire thing and bring it up?

  17. No im not surprised, i watched mission impossible and the other hi tech leaks from movie and so on, my imagination could imagine that enough to reality.

  18. Smart Pipe now stores all metadata in a secure offshore server. The barge is a 500 ton palladium craft which houses over one million exabytes of server space. It's completely impetetrable to pirates or foreign navies owing to it's 100% spherical construction. It's so round that bullets and ladders just glance right off of it. It's not in Smart Pipes interest to know where it is. We do get reports of sightings but if we knew where it was we'd be opening ourselves up to all sorts of regulatory hassels, when, in fact, the only entity with full, unfettered access to your anal topography is a robot. He's the captain.

  19. What if we placed these DCs in outer space, connected by SATCOM links? Oceanic DCs will still heat the ocean….not what we want, but space based DC will have little chance of appreciably heating the universe.

  20. Would this give off radiation and how would it effect the sea life around the data centers??
    I have so many questions still that need anwsering

  21. I wonder how good the security of these pods will be if successful and I don't mean threats from nature but from other humans..

  22. TRUST MICROSOFT ??? NOT IN THIS LIFETIME or EVER ! TOO CORRUPT ,TOO GREEDY , TOO EVIL JUST LIKE GOOGLE , getting the picture yet ?

  23. MICROSOFT " OCEAN COOKERS " how brilliant and EXTREMELY SHORT SIGHTED but THAT'S MICROSOFT WHEN IT COMES TO PROFIT AT ANY PRICE ! BUYER BEWARE IN THE EXTREME if they tell you it's a good thing !

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