The company Microsoft has been able to successfully carry out the dive data center Natick project. Now in the North Sea near Scotland at a depth of 35.7 meters is a decent size “flask”, transmitting data ashore on a durable fiber optic cable. Naturally, the underwater data center is reliably protected from moisture and pressure, plus drained nitrogen is pumped in instead of oxygen.
This will allow the system to function normally for five years. It was during this period that the company lowered its creation under the water. It should be noted that the project is not serviced – the servers are hermetically sealed, no one will open the hatches for the cleaning of fans.
The idea to place servers under the water came to the mind of engineers for quite some time, but it is very difficult to implement such a daring idea. In 2015, Microsoft already launched the project, Leona Philpot – then a small container was sent underwater for only five months. The experiment was a success so that it was possible to start the second stage of development.
This time the “capsule” Project Natick is much larger. Inside there are twelve racks with 864 servers and cooling system. By the standards of the modern world, this is a drop in the bucket, but Microsoft has already stated that if this stage passes without deviations from the plan, the next step will be the immersion of five systems.
Conduct such complex and expensive experiments for the sake of saving money. At the moment, data centers consume 3.5% of all electricity that humanity spends for a year. Of this huge amount of energy, about 15-20% goes to cooling systems. Having loaded the “capsule” under the water, you can save decent money only on passive cooling.
And saving the budget for leasing land will also be noticeable. We do not have exact data, but there is an opinion that servers are much cheaper to fill the bottom of the North Sea than to occupy a similar area on land.
There is still a factor in the failure of cooling systems – any moisture or dust leads to a breakdown of the fans. Even if an employee comes in shoe covers and tries not to breathe near the server, the dust accumulates, oxygen causes oxidation.
In all data centers, this problem is tried in different ways, but Project Natick with full protection from the outside world can demonstrate record-breaking service lives. This is a trifle in the background of saving on electricity and space, but it’s also worth attention.
That’s only environmentalists strongly against all these experiments. And they can be understood. Now underwater there is only one system, the heat from which can raise the temperature in the sea only by a thousandth of a degree. When Microsoft conducts a couple of tests and finds out that it’s possible to save billions of dollars in underwater data centers, half of the seas will be covered with similar projects.
It should be understood that a temperature increase of even one degree can have a harmful effect on the underwater inhabitants, destroying the ecology. Can ecologists defeat the corporation with billions behind it? We will learn in the next five to ten years.
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