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Microsoft shut down its underwater data center after 11 years of operation - experiment found useful

Microsoft shut down its underwater data center after 11 years of operation - experiment found useful
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Microsoft has discontinued its experiment with the underwater data processing center Project Natick without prior notice, which started in 2013. The company confirmed this news, and the head of Microsoft Cloud Operations Noel Walsh said: "My team worked on this, and it worked. We learned a lot about working under the sea, vibrations, and the impact on servers. So, we will apply this knowledge to other cases."

It is expected that in the coming years, data processing centers will grow in geometric progression. Last year alone, NVIDIA sold over 3.76 million processors for data processing centers. It is expected that these cards will consume 14.3 TWh of electricity per year and will require powerful cooling. About 40% of the energy consumption of data processing centers is attributed to cooling systems. If Microsoft can find a way to reduce or even eliminate these expenses, it can reduce the energy needs of data centers.

Microsoft only lost 6 out of 855 submerged servers that it installed off the coast of Scotland in 2018, compared to 8 servers out of a total of 135 in the company's parallel experiment on land. In other words, it is a 0.7% loss at sea versus 5.9% in a conventional setting.

The company stated that the main reason for such durability is the stability of the sea water temperature and the inert nitrogen used to protect the servers. When asked if the use of robots in data processing centers will be part of the training, Walsh said: "We look at robotics more from the perspective that some of these new servers will be very heavy. How can we automate this, rather than have people carry something? We are learning in other areas of robotics, but we also understand that we need people. I don't want people to worry about their jobs."

While Microsoft has completed the research on the underwater data processing center, China started a project with submerged servers in 2023. The company does not reveal whether other server immersion projects are planned. It was previously reported that Microsoft is collaborating with OpenAI to create a $100 billion supercomputer AI data center. The company aims to create modular nuclear reactors to power such projects.

Source: Tom`s Hardware

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