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Microsoft Is Experimenting With Underwater Data Centers

Because it's cool.


When your laptop or your smartphone gets hot, you know it’s crunching a lot of data. So you can imagine the amount of heat generated by the racks upon racks of servers that store and process the world’s digital lives. Keeping these data centers cool is such a problem that tech companies like Facebook and Google prefer to move them to colder countries rather than pay the air conditioning bill. But for Microsoft, there’s an even better home for all that data: Under the sea.

This morning, Microsoft unveiled Project Natick, an ongoing research project into subsea data centers that could be both cost effective and environmentally friendly. The company started exploring the idea in 2013 after Microsoft data center employees wrote a white paper about the concept (one of the authors had experience on a Navy sub). Development of a physical prototype began in 2014 and in August last year, the company deployed its first ever submarine server — a steel capsule some eight feet in diameter — off the coast of California. It ran for 105 days in total, with Microsoft’s engineers saying it was more successful than expected.

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