Microsoft is testing an underwater datacentre which it hopes will deliver faster cloud services to coastal cities.
The computing giant has completed the deployment of a Northern Isles datacenter at the European Marine Energy Centre off the northeastern coast of Scotland.
The test is part of Microsoft’s Project Natick, a research effort to investigate manufacturing and operating environmentally sustainable seafloor datacentres.
Datacentres house servers which need to be kept cool at all times.
The company hopes that the ocean’s floors, which are consistently cold, offer free access to cooling, and will bring faster internet to people in more remote parts of the world.
The latest datacentre, a 40-foot long water-proof container, houses a total of 864 servers and associated cooling systems and will be submerged 117 feet to the seafloor.
The Project will remain in a testing phase for 12 months, whilst the team assesses power consumption, internal humidity levels, sound and temperature levels.
“Like any new car, we will kick the tires and run the engine in different speeds to make sure everything works well,” said Spencer Fowers, a senior member of technical staff for Microsoft’s special projects research group.
“Then, once we are completely ready to go, we will grab one or two of our clients and hand them over the keys and let them start deploying jobs onto our system.”
This latest version is designed to remain in operation without maintenance for up to five years.
Microsoft suggests that if the project gains commercial success, these underwater datacenters could also serve as anchor tenants for marine renewable energy such as offshore wind farms or banks of tidal turbines.