Microsoft test his first submarine datacenter

In the beginning of 2016, Microsoft presented its project: a submarine datacenter. A year and half later, the companies put on test “Natick”, its submarine datacenter, near the coast of Scotland. The goal of this project is to create a “green” datacenter.

Using the Ocean, the datacenter can be cooling down, thanks to an exchange system air-water. The cool-down system is generally the most expensive system in term of energy and money. Using a cool-down system powered by the submarine energy, the cost will go down a lot. Additionally, with the ocean’s cool-down system, the datacenter is provided energy by the wind and the tide. Finally, the fact of placing the datacenter near the cost make it possible to reduce the latency. Indeed, 50% of the world’s population live near the sea.

In order to develop this project, Microsoft asked help to a French company: Naval Group. It’s this group who had been in care to design, develop and build the submarine datacenter. The barrel had been designed in order to be able to contain 12 racks with a total of 864 servers. Its lifetime is esteemed at 5 years only. Because the datacenter is underwater, maintenance can’t be held. However, thanks to that, there is no need of air inside the barrel which reduces the amount of humidity and slowdown the corroding.

Some people have their reservation regarding this project and are especially worried about the marine warming but the developers assure this will impact little the ocean’s temperature. Other criticism: if the datacenter has only a life expectancy of 5 years, the question can be: what will become the old submarine datacenter when they will have become obsolete? Question who will have to find their answer which is the purpose of this experiment.

A propos de Gabrielle MIONET

Etudiante en Master 2 Droit de l'économie numérique à l'université Strasbourg. Passionnée par les problématiques mêlant la propriété intellectuelle et les nouvelles technologies.

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