Half of the world population lives at least 200 kilometres from the sea coasts. It is an amazing fact, but true. If there were submarine data centres (servers where literally most of the Internet is stored), the data cables would have to travel very few kilometres, and the speed of access to the web pages would increase, among other advantages.
But how do you submerge hundreds of computers at the bottom of the sea, with the large amount of energy they require, and the danger that a water leak or a pressure problem will mean the loss of data?
Welcome to Project Natick, the Microsoft project to create the first submarine and sustainable data centre. It not only rests on the sea floor, but also feeds on renewable energies: wind or solar energy, and even obtained by the marine currents themselves.
The data centres are huge conventional buildings containing thousands of servers where the websites, public and private data are stored, etc. Most of the Internet is stored in them.
An underwater data centre has the advantage that it is very close to half the world’s population, so its performance is higher. In addition, seawater serves as an excellent coolant for the enormous temperatures that accumulate in a data centre. If your computer heats up at full capacity, imagine thousands of them side by side
But the difficulties are also very big: humidity, the danger of infiltration, pressure, tides, storms, the difficulty of repair.
Project Natick is a Microsoft project that aims to build submarine data centres the size of a ship (12 meters long) containing 864 servers with a power equivalent to several thousand high-end home computers, and 27 Petabytes of storage. There they fit about 5 million movies.
Here we can see how the servers are introduced in the Microsoft submarine data centre:
One of its strengths is its ability to deploy. The submarine centre can be transported by boat to any place and it is enough to throw it to the bottom of the sea to start it up (with the appropriate anchorages, logically). It is also designed to feed on the renewable energies that abound on the coasts: wind, sun, marine currents, etc.
Project Natick has already passed the first phase (prove that the technology is viable and works), and yesterday started the second: the first operational submarine data centre was submerged a few days ago several meters deep in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, where it will remain in use for five years. During this time, the technological and ecological impact will be analyzed to determine if it is a commercially viable project. If the report is positive, in a few years Microsoft’s submarine data centres could be a reality on the coasts around the world.
Source: Computer Hoy