MICROSOFT HAS sunk another container into the sea, as it continues to experiment with underwater data centres under the auspices of Project Natick.
Last time, you may recall, the company deep dunked some sunken servers into the sea off the coast of California. This time, it's on a different scale.
First, it's being deployed for a full five-year mission with 864 servers, or 27.6 petabytes of storage, over 12 racks.
It's much closer to home this time, off the coast of the Orkney Islands which is in turn off the coast of Scotland.
An undersea cable will supply power from renewable energy sources generated on the islands, and will also transmit data back to the interweb.
Why under the sea? Two very good reasons. The first is space. The earth is crowded. The sea is not. Therefore, as long as the results are sympathetic to the environment, there's no reason not to dangle them over the side, as it were.
Given that the sea makes up the majority of the earth, a few data centres shouldn't be too disruptive to the fish, and it'll be an awesome place to be a cockle. (is that what she said? We're not sure)
The second reason? Cooling. As we know, data centres take a lot of energy. Energy creates heat. Heat requires cooling. Cooling requires energy.
But by dunking the whole place in seawater, Earth provides a natural sustainable cooling system, which will save a ruddy fortune.
This is, once again, a test, designed to flag up any problems with the system which could stop it from working, because it's going to be pretty much impossible to do any maintenance in situ without flooding the place. Maybe there's an airlock of course - we're not privy to that, but we'd imagine that would be a luxury for longer missions.
In the meantime, this five-year mission is significantly longer and as such suggests we're a lot closer to rolling this concept out commercially. µ
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