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Old 6 Jun 2018, 06:12 PM   #1
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Microsoft sinks data centre off Orkney

Microsoft has sunk a data centre in the sea off Orkney to investigate whether it can boost energy efficiency.

The data centre, a white cylinder containing computers, could sit on the sea floor for up to five years. An undersea cable brings the data centre power and takes its data to the shore and the wider internet - but if the computers onboard break, they cannot be repaired.

The theory is that the cost of cooling the computers will be cut by placing them underwater.

"We think we actually get much better cooling underwater than on land," says Ben Cutler, who is in charge of what Microsoft has dubbed Project Natick. "Additionally because there are no people, we can take all the oxygen and most of the water vapour out of the atmosphere which reduces corrosion, which is a significant problem in data centres."

The Project Natick team will monitor the data centre for the next five years. It could turn out to be a signpost to the future - or maybe just a tourist attraction for passing fish.
Full text (BBC)

BTW, Microsoft says "Natick is a codename and carries no special meaning. It is a town in Massachusetts."
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Old 7 Jun 2018, 07:21 AM   #2
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It is interesting that they believe it will be more reliable. It seems like this sort of thing is a perfect use for AI technology that could potentially figure out how to reconfigure systems on the fly in order to keep a sealed unit like this working despite the inevitable failure of components, etc.
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Old 15 Jun 2018, 01:07 AM   #3
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Very interesting indeed. Is cooling really that big of a cost when it comes to data centers?
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Old 30 Jun 2018, 10:26 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Stehlik View Post
Very interesting indeed. Is cooling really that big of a cost when it comes to data centers?
Yes, cooling is one of the major costs of running a data center. 40% of the power usage can be for cooling, and the cooling infrastructure costs a significant amount.
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Old 30 Jun 2018, 06:46 PM   #5
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I knew cooling is a problem, but it looks like a new way to trash our oceans. But now let's wait 5 years for this project to finish. Maybe the computers will suffer other problems there, which they didn't think of...
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