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Microsoft's Project Natick deploys underwater data center in Scotland

Microsoft has launched an underwater data center (opens in new tab) off the coast of Scotland as part of a pilot project aimed at providing quickly deployable, unmanned data center units to coastal regions.

The experiment is part of Microsoft's Project Natick, which kicked off with a prototype unit off the Pacific coast of the United States in 2015. The Scottish data center, which now rests on the seafloor near Scotland's Northern Isles, represents the first long-term test to see if the project is viable.

One of the main goals of the project is to not only to provide rapidly deployable internet solutions for coastal cities but to do so in a sustainable way. Once at the seafloor, the pods leverage the low water temperature around them for cooling, overcoming one of the main energy hurdles that plague traditional data centers operated on land. The rest of the pod's energy needs are met by renewable energy sources and delivered by a cable from the Orkney island grid. When operating at full capacity, the data center requires "just under a quarter of a megawatt of power," Microsoft says.

As for the power behind the data center, Microsoft says it's loaded with 12 racks and 864 servers, along with the infrastructure for the cooling system.

Microsoft says the team will spend the next 12 months monitoring the performance of the data center, keeping an eye on metrics like power consumption, internal humidity, sound, and temperature.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to daniel.thorp-lancaster@futurenet.com.

11 Comments
  • This is just plain AWESOME!
  • they should give it a long neck and a couple of humps 😉
  • They should have called it "Project Nessie." :)
  • So now the technicians will have to take scuba diving classes to reboot the server, perform routine maintenance, etc?
  • "Wanted - Highly motivated technicians with diving experience."
  • Possibly, Olympics participants. You know, Phelps.
  • A submarine of servers, coming to a Scottish village near you ;)
  • Sure, Why not?
  • Most impressive! 😁
  • "Once at the seafloor, the pods leverage the low water temperature around them for cooling, overcoming one of the main energy hurdles that plague traditional data centers operated on land." Okay, what I read, Microsoft found a way to directly heat up the oceans. This is what I call "sustainable"!
  • Would have been nice to know how much power an equivalent land-based data would draw at full capacity. Is cooling 10%, 50% or 75% of the power needs of a data center?