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Microsoft’s underwater data center is rising from the seabed a grim success

Illustration for an article titled Microsoft Underwater Data Center Rises from Seabed Gloomy Success

Screenshot: Microsoft / YouTube (Fair use)

Microsoft’s underwater data center in the North Islands has re-emergedm the depth of the ocean, the company announced Mondayand is remarkably intact, except that it is covered with sea-dung.

The data center – which Microsoft sank under 117 feet of water off the coast of The Orkney Islands of Scotland in 2018 – looks like a large, airtight fuel tank. After two years on the seabed, it is now covered with algae, ears and melon-sized sea anemones. But Microsoft Special Projects researcher Spencer Fowers said in a statement that the company was “quite impressed” by the lack of “hardened marine growth.”

Inside, 864 servers with a collective 27.6 petabyte storage and cooling infrastructure are inspired by the elements in an atmosphere of inert gas – Microsoft noted that the conditions European Marine Energy Center the test site may include nine miles per hour tidal currents and 60-foot waves during storms. In fact, Microsoft claims that the equipment performed better than ground-based systems. Project leader Natick Ben Cutler said in a blog post that the North Islands collided with only one-eighth of what was expected in a traditional data center and that it worked “really well” in the region’s energy grid, which is 100 percent wind and sun.

This confirms the hypothesis of the seafloor is preferably for server farms over the above environments where equipment can be damaged by corrosion by oxygen and moisture, constant temperature changes and physical movement during maintenance. Placing data centers underwater can also allow for a closer location for customers and obviously greatly facilitates cooling., and Microsoft previously suggested that they could be powered by tidal generators. The devices are also portable and can be easily scaled larger operations.

One obvious problem is that in situ repairs are not possible, although Microsoft wrote in a blog post that the servers in the illuminated data centers are now being replaced twice a decade. The company hopes that the increased reliability of underwater servers will mean “the few that fail early are simply taken offline. “

The The sentence was reported in 2018, the possible environmental impact of underwater data centers is unclear; a unit can have negligiimpact on local temperature, but the masses of them can have noticeable effects on marine life.

“While there may be significant benefits for companies like Microsoft in transferring storage systems to offshore areas, the effects of any structure placed in the marine environment, especially one that generates significant heat locally, need to be studied.” Gordon Watson, a marine ecologist at the University of Portsmouth, said the verdict. Watson added that each site would have to be assessed for environmental impact and that “IThis is not so easy (at least in countries where they have advanced legislation in the field of maritime planning) as simply sticking something on the seabed and retrieving it after five years. “

There is also the problem of declining returns. Leeds Beckett University The School of Computer Technology, Creative Technology and Engineering, Dean Colin Pattinson told Wired in 2018, while underwater data centers are “worthwhile,” efficiency gains in reducing energy needs are declining over time.

“In fact, what we’re trying to do now is squeeze even more savings out of the same basic technology,” Pattinson told Wired.. “We may reduce the growth rate, but there will still be an increase in the energy needs that data centers create because of the amount of data we produce.”

The next phase of the Natick project will demonstrate the ease of disposal and recycling.

“We are now at a time when we are trying to harness what we have done, instead of feeling the need to go and prove more,” Cutler said in a statement.. “We did what we had to do. Natick is a key building block for the company to use, if appropriate. “

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