Distributed Generation, Hydro  -  February 2, 2016

Microsoft pilots underwater data centers

In an effort to harness nature's natural cooling powers, Microsoft is experimenting with siting data centers offshore under water in the ocean. Additional benefits include locating data centers in closer proximity to highly populated coastal areas and the ability to rapidly deploy a data center if needed.

The company successfully deployed a pilot undersea data center for four months last year. Microsoft says deepwater deployment offers "ready access to cooling, renewable power sources, and a controlled environment." The concept theoretically allows the data center to receive power from an offshore wind turbine or renewable ocean energy system, but work on that is preliminary.

Microsoft is working toward a 20-year data center lifespan before the units are salvaged and recycled, according to Computerworld. Another possibility includes a "deployment cycle" of 5 years per data center, which is how long the computers inside are expected to last. "After each 5-year deployment cycle, the datacenter would be retrieved, reloaded with new computers, and redeployed," according to Microsoft.

“For years, the main cloud providers have been seeking sites around the world not only for green energy but which also take advantage of the environment,” Larry Smarr, a physicist and scientific computing specialist who is director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at the University of California, San Diego told the New York Times.

Photo credit: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

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