The Cloud Underwater? Microsoft goes deep

The Cloud is now underwater.

Starfish, Octopus, Crabs and other Pacific Ocean life stumbled upon a temporary addition to the seafloor, more than half a mile from the shoreline: a 38,000-pound container. But in the ocean, 10 feet by 7 feet is quite small. The shrimp exploring the seafloor made more noise than the data centre inside the container, which consumed computing power equivalent to 300 desktop PCs.

The technology to put sealed vessels underwater with computers inside isn’t new. In fact, it was one Microsoft employee’s experience serving on submarines that carry sophisticated equipment that got the ball rolling on this project. But Microsoft researchers do believe this is the first time a data centre has been deployed below the ocean’s surface. Going under water could solve several problems by introducing a new power source, greatly reducing cooling costs,closing the distance to connected populations and making it easier and faster to set up data centres.

The team is currently planning the project’s next phase, which could include a vessel four times the size of the current container with as much as 20 times the compute power. 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 ocean energy source.

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