Scotland: Two years ago, Microsoft sank a data centre off the coast of Orkney in a wild experiment. That data centre has now been retrieved from the ocean floor.
Reportedly, the company is assessing how is has performed.
Microsoft sank a shipping container-sized data centre 117 feet deep in the seafloor off Scotlands Orkney Islands in 2018 as part of its Project Natick. The tech giant has now retrieved it coated in algae, barnacles and sea anemones, confirming the viability of seafloor data storage in the near future.
“Our failure rate in the water is one-eighth of what we see on land,” said Ben Cutler who leads Project Natick.
Microsoft’s Project Natick team deployed the Northern Isles data centre to the seafloor in spring 2018.
For the next two years, team members tested and monitored the performance and reliability of the datacenter’s servers.
The retrieval proved the concept of underwater datacenters is feasible, as well as logistically, environmentally and economically practical.
More than half the world’s population lives within nearly 200 km of the coast.
“By putting data centre underwater near coastal cities, data would have a short distance to travel, leading to fast and smooth web surfing, video streaming and game playing,” Microsoft said in a statement on Monday.
Microsoft now believes underwater data centres are reliable, practical and energy sustainable, following the retrieval of a prototype from the ocean floor. The test case could have implications for on-land data centres, which are heavy users of power and fresh water.