Microsoft’s undersea data centre experiment is a success; Here’s why it matters

Back in June 2018, Microsoft had submerged a prototype data centre into the sea near the Northern Isles. The software-giant wanted to test whether underwater data centres are feasible or not. The idea was simple: an underwater data centre can provide faster and low-latency data access to countries and places which have less land mass and are near large coastal areas. The ocean provides natural cooling and a controlled environment. Not to forget an underwater data centre can also be powered by renewable energy sources. The entire project is called Project Natick.
Now, after two years, Microsoft has pulled out the prototype data centre from 117-feet deep inside the sea and have announced Project Natick a success.
“The team hypothesized that a sealed container on the ocean floor could provide ways to improve the overall reliability of data centres. On land, corrosion from oxygen and humidity, temperature fluctuations and bumps and jostles from people who replace broken components are all variables that can contribute to equipment failure,” said Microsoft in an official post confirming that underwater data centres are reliable, practical and use energy sustainably.
WATCH VIDEO: Project Natick- Microsoft wants to put data centres under the sea

01:44Project Natick- Microsoft wants to put data centres under the sea

Project Natick- Microsoft wants to put data centres under the sea

You might be still finding this weird and may question the need for Project Natick. But with the demand for reliable and sustainable data centres growing, putting data centres under underwater may make complete sense a few years from now.
“More than half the world’s population lives within 120 miles of the coast. By putting data centres underwater near coastal cities, data would have a short distance to travel, leading to fast and smooth web surfing, video streaming and game playing,” explained Microsoft.
Microsoft engineers had sealed the data centre inside a large steel tube and packed in with nitrogen before submerging it. “Our failure rate in the water is one-eighth of what we see on land,” said Ben Cutler, a project manager in Microsoft’s Special Projects research group who leads Project Natick.
“The team hypothesizes that the atmosphere of nitrogen, which is less corrosive than oxygen, and the absence of people to bump and jostle components, are the primary reasons for the difference,” he added.

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