Microsoft picks the nuclear option when it comes to data centers and AI

Microsoft Logo at Ignite
(Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft's data centers and AI projects take up a lot of resources and negatively impact the climate.
  • The company is looking to mitigate these issues by picking up nuclear energy.
  • Microsoft is currently looking to fill a new principal program manager for nuclear technology role within the organization. The person who takes up this job will be responsible for “lead project initiatives for all aspects of nuclear energy infrastructure for global growth.”
  • The company indicated that microreactors and Small Modular Reactors are easier to build and run compared to nuclear reactors.

While Artificial Intelligence can achieve incredible feats and tap into unexplored opportunities, we know how exorbitant it is regarding resources. For instance, OpenAI incurs a cost of up to $700,000 to run ChatGPT on a daily basis.

Moreover, the implications of leveraging AI capabilities to make these advances run deeper than just cost. Did you know that Bing Chat and ChatGPT use '1 bottle of water' in cooling for every query? Well, they do, and it has raised concern among users in terms of sustainability.

But it seems Microsoft is taking control of the situation and is inclined toward using nuclear energy as the main source of power for its data centers and AI advances. This is according to a new job listing by the company looking to fill the position of "principal program manager for nuclear technology." The job description indicates Microsoft is looking for someone to “lead project initiatives for all aspects of nuclear energy infrastructure for global growth.”

In the past few years, Microsoft has worked hard to build a climate-conscious reputation, with numerous investments in the field, including Climeworks air capture and using recycled materials to manufacture Xbox hardware and accessories.

Data centers have proved to be of immense value, as have Microsoft's recent advancements in AI. However, the company's efforts in mitigating climate change could easily slip through the cracks if Microsoft doesn't get ahead of the situation before it spirals out of control.

As spotted by CNBC, the company intends to transition from using electricity to leveraging microreactors and Small Modular Reactors to power its data centers and AI advances. The company added that adopting this new approach is easier to build and run compared to nuclear reactors.

Not a one size fits all solution

By adopting nuclear energy, Microsoft will avoid releasing gas emissions into the environment, which aligns with its commitment to completely eliminate its current and legacy carbon footprint in the next couple of years. But where does this leave radioactive waste?

Microsoft is not a stranger to the effects of climate change and the impact it has on the environment, having shown great interest in mitigating some of these issues in the past few years. It will be interesting to see how the company handles these emerging issues once it adopts nuclear energy to power its data centers and AI advances.

Kevin Okemwa

Kevin Okemwa is a seasoned tech journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya with lots of experience covering the latest trends and developments in the industry at Windows Central. With a passion for innovation and a keen eye for detail, he has written for leading publications such as OnMSFT, MakeUseOf, and Windows Report, providing insightful analysis and breaking news on everything revolving around the Microsoft ecosystem. You'll also catch him occasionally contributing at iMore about Apple and AI. While AFK and not busy following the ever-emerging trends in tech, you can find him exploring the world or listening to music.