Microsoft has announced that they have sunk a data centre in the sea off Orkney to test the energy efficiency under the water. The data centre consists of a white cylinder with some computers. Orkney was chosen for the experiment because the place is a major centre for the renewable energy research. The data centre provides coastal communities with high-speed cloud computing capabilities and internet connectivity.
There is an undersea cable which supplies power to the data centre and transfers its data to the shore and wider internet. The main reason for going under the water is that the cost of cooling the computers can be reduced significantly this way. Since there are no people on board, all the oxygen and the water vapours can be used from the atmosphere, which can also minimize the corrosion, a major issue in the present data centres on the earth.
The computers cannot be recovered if they fail however there is very less chance of them failing. Despite being tiny as compared to others, the data centre has room to store five million movies.
The first experimental data centre by Microsoft was submerged in water on the coast of California in 2015. The second project was started after the successful completion of the first one. If the second phase of the project is also successful then Microsoft looks forward to sinking groups of five cylinders which will be able to deploy a data centre offshore in the 90 days. This same idea can take years on land.
Microsoft will be monitoring the project for a year to understand the functionality and practicality of the idea of data centre undersea. They believe that there is a lot which needs to be done before the project can become reliable and scalable. If the project becomes successful, this will mean that millions of people who live in the coastal community will be able to use the internet without consuming the energy resources that power the data centres on the earth.