Microsoft looks to improve energy efficiency
We rarely consider the environmental impact of computers. Used by billions of us every day, computers eat up a lot of energy, much of which is produced by data centres.
Data centres are large clusters of connected computers which can control, store and distribute huge amounts of data. You can think of them as the nucleus of the online world. But these data centres cost a lot to run, and use loads of energy, in turn producing incredible heat which makes them difficult to cool down.
In an attempt to try and find a more energy efficient way of cooling data centres down, Microsoft has this week carried out the second phase of Project Natick which has seen a data centre sunk to the bottom of the seabed off the coast of Orkney.
The data centre, which looks like a large white cylinder, houses 12 racks of servers which collectively have the equivalent power to thousands of modern PCs. It is thought that the data centre could be underwater for up to five years, connected to land by a cable which will deliver power and transmit information. It is hoped that the natural cooling aid of the water will create a more efficient environment and mean fewer faults occur.
Manager of Project Natick Ben Cutler explained: "We think we actually get much better cooling underwater than on land,"
"Additionally because there are no people, we can take all the oxygen and most of the water vapour out of the atmosphere which reduces corrosion, which is a significant problem in data centres."
Cindy Rose, Microsoft UK’s chief executive, added: “I often hear of exciting research projects taking place at our headquarters in Redmond and other locations in the US, so I’m delighted this venture is taking place in the UK.
“It sends a message that Microsoft understands this country is at the cutting-edge of technology, a leader in cloud computing, artificial intelligence and machine learning. It’s a view I see reflected in every chief executive, consumer and politician I meet; the UK is ready for the fourth industrial revolution and the benefits that it will bring.”