Early research made in 2014 inferred that underwater conditions could improve the stability of data centers. The data encouraged Microsoft to place an experimental data center underwater in 2015. Several modifications were made in time, and a full set of functional servers was installed in 2018.
Two other companies helped Microsoft to develop and deploy the underwater data center, which was placed close to the coast of Scotland, at the European Marine Energy Center, which is a popular test site for projects that involve an underwater environment.
Microsoft has been quite pleased by the results, which were also shared recently by the company. The data center was placed at a depth of 117 feet(or close to 36 meters). A pod with 865 servers and the necessary cooling infrastructure was placed inside the data center.
Energy-efficient data centers can be created by harnessing the environmental conditions found in subsurface seas, which is already a major improvement in comparison to land-based versions. Another great boon is represented by an improved cooling system that takes advantage of heat-exchange designs that are similar to the ones found on submarines.
Recovery and testing
The underwater center was retrieved recently, cleaned, and sent to a facility for tests. A few servers and cables have failed, but according to a Microsoft representative, the overall stability of the servers placed in the data center was up to eight times higher in comparison to the ones present on the land.
It is theorized that the lack of a human presence that could influence the components as well as an atmosphere rich in nitrogen were the primary factors. Since the servers were so stable, there was no need to replace parts, and the ones who failed were taken offline without problems.
Known as Project Natick, the initiative seems to be quite promising for now.