Microsoft researchers put for the first time a datacenter under sea which according to them could solve several problems by introducing a new power source to make future datacenters more sustainable, while at the same time closing the distance to connected populations and speeding data transmission and cloud deployment.
As datacenters contain groups of networked computers that require a lot of power for all kinds of tasks: storing, processing and/or distributing massive amounts of information, the electricity that powers datacenters can be generated from renewable power sources such as wind and solar, or, in this case, perhaps wave or tidal power.
When datacenters are closer to where people live and work, there is less ‘latency,’ which means that downloads, Web browsing and games are all faster. Furthermore, with more and more organisations relying on the cloud, the demand for datacenters is higher than ever as is the cost to build and maintain them. This was the reason that led to the creation of the vessel.
“One of the biggest advantages of the underwater datacenter scheme is reducing latency by closing the distance to populations and thereby speeding data transmission. Half of the world’s population lives within 120 miles of the sea, which makes it an appealing option”, said Microsoft.
Building the vessel that housed the experimental datacenter only took 90 days. While every datacenter on land is different and needs to be tailored to varying environments and terrains, these underwater containers could be mass produced for very similar conditions underwater, which is consistently colder the deeper it is.
Once the vessel was submerged, the researchers used cameras and other sensors to record data like temperature, humidity, the amount of power being used for the system, even the speed of the current.
The team is currently planning to use a vessel four times the size of the current container. The team is also evaluating test sites for the vessel, which could be in the water for at least a year, deployed with a renewable energy source.