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Microsoft has extracted servers placed under water

Microsoft has pulled its data centre, which was sunk as part of Project Natick off the coast of Orkney in May 2018, out from under the water. Now, after more than two years, the container has been picked up from the seabed and analysed by experts. As it turns out, the results are very satisfactory.
Published: September 15, 2020 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 21:04
Microsoft has extracted servers placed under water

Microsoft has pulled its data centre, which was sunk as part of Project Natick off the coast of Orkney in May 2018, out from under the water. Now, after more than two years, the container has been picked up from the seabed and analysed by experts. As it turns out, the results are very satisfactory.

After a thorough analysis of the recovered equipment, it was found that only 8 of the 855 servers that had been underwater for over 2 years had failed. It turns out that this is a far better result than a conventional data centre on the surface.

Project Natic divers24.co.uk server extraction
The mining unit takes up the capsule with the servers photo Microsoft.

Microsoft specialists working on Project Natick concluded that the improved reliability could be related, among other things, to the fact that there were no humans in the capsule and that nitrogen rather than oxygen was the dominant gas inside the capsule.

We believe the good result has to do with the nitrogen-rich atmosphere, which greatly reduces corrosion. In addition, the centre was isolated from human interference, with people constantly tinkering with the equipment,” said Ben Cutler, representing Microsoft

S

Extracted capsule during Microsoft Project Natic cleanup divers24.co.uk
Before opening, the capsule was thoroughly cleaned photo Microsoft

Scotland’s Orkney Islands were chosen not by chance. It is home to a highly reputable renewable energy research centre and also has a favourable temperate climate, which has helped to cool the units under water.

Inspection of submerged Project Natic servers divers24.co.uk
Servers underwater have proven to have significantly less failures than those on the surface photo Microsoft

Although Project Natick has been terminated, it certainly gave the researchers food for thought and provided extremely interesting data which will be used in the near future. As experts in the field of data centre creation point out, underwater installations have many advantages, e.g. low costs due to the lack of need for infrastructure, i.e. building construction. Add to this a stable environment which translates into low failure rate, and we may soon witness the relocation of servers of many companies underwater.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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