All data centers have servers that generate massive amounts of heat, requiring even more machinery to keep them cool and running. Then the company will let some customers use the data center. An undersea fibre-optic cable brings power to the data centre and transfers data to the shore and web users.

According to the release, their goal is to create "self-sufficient underwater data centers that can deliver lightning-quick cloud services to coastal cities" using "experimental, shipping-container-sized" prototypes.

Project Natick will stay submerged for five years if all goes to plan.


If Project Natick proves a success, Microsoft envisages sinking groups of five of these cylinders and being able to deploy a data centre offshore in 90 days, whereas it could take years on land.

"When you are in this kind of exponential growth curve, it tells you that most of the datacenters that we'll ever build we haven't built yet", said Ben Cutler, leader of the Project Natick team in the release. Now, the company is looking to do the same off the coast of the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, an archipelago northeast of Scotland. And because oceans are uniformly cool below a certain depth, keeping the machines under the sea would cut down the cooling costs that make up a large chunk of the operating budget of data centers.

Cindy Rose, chief executive of the technology giant, said: "Microsoft is exploring the idea that data centres - essentially the backbone of the internet - can be based on the sea floor".


The Northern Isles data center consists of a 40-foot (12.2 metre) long white cylinder containing 864 servers - enough to store five million movies - and can lie on the seabed for up to five years.

Project Natick gets electrical power from a cable connected to a wind farm on the Orkney Islands, and that cable also serves as the conduit for the data processed under the sea.

The undersea data center is part of the technology giant's Project Natick initiative meant to research more energy efficient data centers.


Environmentalists anxious about the servers having a direct warming effect on the sea need not worry, says Microsoft, as the company's Ben Cutler told the BBC he would expect the surrounding few metres of sea to be "a few thousandths of a degree warmer at most".

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