Microsoft has tested an underwater data center that could bring cloud computing infrastructure closer to big cities near coastlines. The initiative is known as Project Natick, under which the company built a prototype capsule containing rack of servers inside and sunk it to the seabed off the coast of Seattle.
The reason behind this project is to bring the data to up to 50 percent of the population that live near the coast. The data centers we have today power everything from streaming to social networking requiring thousands of computer servers. Those servers continuously generate lots of heat that cause server crash. So the company thought why not put the gear under the cold ocean water to fix the problem? Also, the company is considering pairing the system with turbine, or tidal energy system to generate electricity that could meet the exponentially growing energy demand in the computing world.
“Project Natick reflects Microsoft’s ongoing quest for cloud datacenter solutions that offer rapid provisioning, lower costs, high responsiveness, and are more environmentally sustainable,” the company wrote on Project Natick’s website.
Microsoft just completed a 105 day trial of its prototype capsule, which is made of steel and 8 feet in diameter. The data center was placed 30 feet underwater in the Pacific Ocean. The engineers controlled it from the Microsoft campus and the trial was more successful than it was expected. The capsule was named Leona Philpot, a character from company’s Halo video game series.
According to the New York Times, the company is now ready to push forward the project by building a larger capsule three times larger than the current one. It will be built in collaboration with a developer of an ocean-based alternative energy system, which is yet to be chosen. The next trial is expected to begin next year, probably near Florida or in Northern Europe, where there are mass ongoing ocean energy projects.