Back in June, Microsoft built an underwater data centre off the Scottish coast. The company has installed some underwater cameras to keep an eye on things, but Microsoft isn’t keeping the view all to themselves. The company is generously live-streaming the view, just in case watching fish swim around large submerged data is your thing.
First spotted by the Verge, the livecams give you a pretty cool underwater view of the data center, a experimental project named Project Natick that has 27.6PB (27,600TB) of storage — though after watching for about 10 minutes I have to say that I was expecting more sea monsters.
Or at least a giant squid. (If you see a giant squid on camera, please let us know.)
The first question you might have about underwater data storage is “why”? But there are perfectly logical reasons to have underwater data centres. Part of it is about speed, while the other part is about cooling.
Roughly half of the world’s population lives within 190km of a coastline, which means that there can be considerable lag time delivering data when those centres are positioned inland, often in rural and unpopulated places. By putting data centres just off the coast, they’re not only able to deliver data to large populations quicker, they can also save energy on cooling.
“For true delivery of AI, we are really cloud dependent today”, Peter Lee, vice president of Microsoft AI and Research, recently said in a news release. “If we can be within one internet hop of everyone, then it not only benefits our products, but also the products our customers serve”.
With the money and energy saved on cooling costs, Microsoft claims its underwater data centres can run on 100 per cent renewable energy.
Again, watching underwater cameras showing off data centres may not be everybody’s cup of tea. But if it is, you’re certainly in luck today. Just tell your boss you’re watching for science. After all, the data centre isn’t too far from Nessie.