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Want an Energy-Efficient Data Center? Build It ­nderwater

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Artist's conception of a submerged data center.

Microsoft wants to submerge data centers to keep them cool and to harvest energy from the sea.


Microsoft engineers Sean James and Todd Rawlings have proposed underwater server farms to help cloud providers deal with data center expansion in an environmentally friendly manner.

Four Microsoft researchers tested the concept via Project Natick, setting up a prototype submerged data center in the Pacific Ocean. The structure is composed of steel cylinders or "pods" containing servers based a few kilometers off the coast and placed between 50 and 200 meters under the water's surface. The seawater acts as a cooling medium for the servers, saving ventilation costs and energy overhead, while the system's managers work remotely.

Using the Natick model, the researchers want to establish operational underwater data centers at any coastal site within 90 days of a deployment decision.

Another advantage of coastal installations is their proximity to population centers, so customer request response time is accelerated. Built-in redundancy also could be added via wind or machine turbine power.

From IEEE Spectrum
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