Microsoft's Halo-inspired underwater data center project explained

Microsoft is researching submarine data centers, here’s what they found.

    2016/10/25

NSFW    REDMOND, CALIFORNIA —Microsoft is researching ways to move power hungry and heat-prone data centers underwater.

Last year, the company sent a server inside a steel hull 30 feet below the Pacific Ocean, off the California coast.

Along with pressurized nitrogen to cool computer chips, the temperature at the ocean floor helped keep the server cool. The experiment ran for 105 days, between August and November of 2015. The hull was named Leona Philpot — after a character from the Halo video game series, according to Microsoft Research.

Last year’s experiment was powered by a land-based power grid, but Microsoft aims to develop other power sources. The company believes that renewable resources such as tidal energy could power underwater data centers.

Microsoft eventually hopes to develop underwater datacenters with a two decade-lifespan. The data centers would be deployed over five-year periods, with computer hardware replaced at the end of each deployment.

The company is working on the next phase of the research, which it said includes a vessel that is quadruple the size and will hold 20 times as much compute power.
The data center being lowered into the water. MICROSOFT
The data center being lowered into the water. MICROSOFT
The server being inserted into the hull. MICROSOFT
The server being inserted into the hull. MICROSOFT
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