• 14 hours Companies Want You To Pay To Keep Your Data Safe From Them
  • 20 hours Why Are Solar Investments Plummeting?
  • 2 days Workers Walk A Tightrope As Shutdown Puts Paychecks On Hold
  • 2 days Key Indicators Suggest A Recession Is Closer Than We Thought
  • 3 days Palladium Surpasses Gold As Demand Continues To Rise
  • 3 days Is Another Gold Rally On The Horizon?
  • 4 days Most Crypto Investors Don’t Know This Tax Loophole
  • 4 days How Tech Is Decentralizing The Energy Industry
  • 4 days Dissecting Europe's Massive Tennis Match-Fixing Scandal
  • 4 days This Gold Deal Could Be A Boon For The Mining Industry
  • 5 days 5 Companies That Could Win Big As The U.S. Legalizes Sports Betting
  • 5 days May Survives No-Confidence Vote Despite Huge Loss On Brexit Deal
  • 5 days U.S. Trade Deficit With China Grows To Record High
  • 5 days Big Oil Doubles Down On Blockchain Tech
  • 5 days What Top Financial Analysts Are Saying About Brexit
  • 6 days Billion Dollar Opportunity In The World’s Most Exciting Sector
  • 6 days Cash Is Now A $3-Trillion Safe Haven Bet
  • 6 days How Advertisers Are Forced Into Politics
  • 6 days Automakers Go All-In On Electric Vehicles
  • 6 days How Will The Government Shutdown Impact Gold?
How Advertisers Are Forced Into Politics

How Advertisers Are Forced Into Politics

Advertisers are increasingly pressured to…

Automakers Go All-In On Electric Vehicles

Automakers Go All-In On Electric Vehicles

Despite collapsing global automobile sales,…

Oilprice.com

Oilprice.com

Writer, OilPrice.com

Information/Articles and Prices on a wide range of commodities: We have assembled a team of experienced writers to provide you with information on Crude Oil,…

Contact Author

  1. Home
  2. News
  3. Breaking News

Microsoft Launches Second Deep Sea Data Center

Jelly

Microsoft said yesterday it had submerged a second experimental data center off the coast of Scotland, as part of its Natick project that studies less energy-intensive data centers. While the idea in itself is a very good one—data centers consume huge amounts of energy for cooling—the environmental consequences of a wide adoption of such data centers are yet to be identified, and not all of them may be good.

It’s all about temperatures, really. The notorious energy intensity of data centers was the main reason why Microsoft began working on Natick, whose goal is to study the “manufacturing and operating environmentally sustainable, prepackaged datacenter units that can be ordered to size, rapidly deployed and left to operate lights out on the seafloor for years.”

The experimental data center is as large as a shipping container, at 12.2 m in length and a diameter of 3.18 m and contains 12 racks with a total 864 servers. It has a capacity of 27.6 petabytes, which Microsoft equates to storage space for five million movies and the power of several thousand high-end PCs. It also consumes 240 kW of electricity, all sourced from renewable sources including wind, solar, tidal, and wave, since the data center is located in the European Marine Energy Center.

Now let’s imagine thousands of such data centers being submerged into the sea around the world. What will the environmental effects of such mass adoption of energy-efficient data centers be? Will it actually help the environment by reducing onshore electricity needs, or will it damage it?

A typical data center consumes only a small portion of the energy it receives from the grid for useful work. The rest—and it is a lot at up to 98 percent—is released in the form of heat. Now, this heat could be reused by linking the data centers to heat-consuming facilities such as household heating grids. It’s not a universal solution, however, since heat is easily lost when it has to be transported from its place of origin, for example, and it is often not hot enough to be used as an alternative to conventional heating methods. Related: Technical Flags Suggest Trouble Ahead For Gold

To solve the heat problem of their data centers, majors companies are looking for ways to reduce their cooling costs—pretty high due to the scale of their data center networks—by sending these data centers to cooler parts of the world. “Cooler” is the keyword when it comes to submerged systems such as Microsoft’s Natick.

The North Sea is unquestionably a good place for a submerged data center. Yet not all seas are as cold as the North Sea, and that’s just one potential issue with the mass implementation of submerged data centers. Another, much bigger issue is the very fact of the heat: it does not disappear just because the data center is underwater. It is still generated and the more data centers there are underwater, the more heat is generated.

The world’s oceans are already getting warmer. One—or a dozen—submerged data centers will hardly worsen the situation, but start thinking in hundreds or thousands, and their effect on water temperatures near the coasts becomes more pronounced.

All this falls within the sphere of conjecture for now. Microsoft’s stated purpose with the Natick initiative was to study the possibilities of an environmentally friendly, economical application of modular underwater data centers. It’s way too early to worry about any major impact on the environment. Let’s first see how it goes with the Northern Isles data center.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Safehaven.com:

Back to homepage

Leave a comment

Leave a comment