Conquering the bottom of the sea. Microsoft and its submarine data center project
What led the test, code-named Leona Philpot
Under the water! Microsoft intends to develop the concept of placing a server farm at the bottom of the sea. About the prototype, code-named Leona Philpot, wrote in a previous article. And so, at the DatacenterDynamics Enterprise 2016 conference, the corporation shared its plans in the near future to deploy a “real” data center under water, which will soon be commissioned.
Let me remind you that in August 2015 the prototype of a cylindrical server farm, with dimensions of about 3 by 2 meters, was immersed a kilometer from the US Pacific coast and was successfully operated for four months.
Leona Philpot was equipped with a large number of heat exchangers, which in turn transferred excess heat from servers to cold water.
Microsoft engineers placed the servers inside the container, they were managed remotely. The test lasted 105 days. After the underwater server farm was lifted from the bottom, the analysis of the results began.
It was picked up in November and transported by truck to Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington (USA), for further analysis.
The test was successful, without malfunctioning equipment + achieved high energy efficiency. As for the cooling system, it worked well and exceeded some of the performance targets.
According to the top manager, this result gave Microsoft engineers confidence that they should place the underwater data center at even greater depths, in an even colder environment, so it was decided to develop this concept for the further construction of server underwater realms of information storage. Initially, the prototype was immersed 10 meters, but now the company is confident that you can "dip" the server farm deeper.
Microsoft spokesman Ben Cutler said that the size of the future underwater data center will be four times larger than the Leona Philpot prototype being tested, and the power placed inside the equipment data center will reach half a megawatt.
According to Cutler, you can deploy a data center with a capacity of 20 megawatts (or more) if you combine such separate modules into one data center. Due to the fact that such a data warehouse will be deployed near the coast of a large city, this will provide minimal delays for users / customers living nearby. The plus is that such a server farm will cost several times less than on land, and the mobility of the underwater data center will provide the opportunity to move it as soon as possible to the desired regions.
With regard to energy production for such underwater kingdoms
The Microsoft project intends to equip the underwater data centers with turbines; they are planned to be used to generate electricity using the mechanical energy of ocean waves and currents. Therefore, the corporation’s engineers are now actively studying how appropriate it is to use underwater generating capacities (it is planned to use turbines that will generate electricity due to the movement of water under the surface of the ocean, waves).
Work on the project of an autonomous underwater data center gave the corporation specialists the opportunity to develop a new approach to working with servers without physical access for operators to the servers. In order to increase the heat removal efficiency, the first module was filled with nitrogen. This helped to avoid dust collection on the components of computing systems. As a prototype cooling, an internal cooling circuit and an external heat exchanger based on a keel cooler and a number of custom designs from Microsoft were used.
Among the advantages of an underwater data center are the reduction of costs due to the use of water for cooling servers and auxiliary equipment inside the server farm, the organization of power supply from the same water, savings on the acquisition or construction of real estate and the payment of property tax.
Is such a data center environmentally friendly
The prototype Leona Philpot did not have a negative impact on the environment. The module itself generated very little heat, so even various representatives of the local fauna chose a place on the underwater data center. The new prototype is sure to be able to demonstrate a zero carbon footprint, while there will be no need to take water from the outside to cool the servers.
At the moment, methods of deploying computing infrastructure are being investigated, which will allow you to place data centers at more serious depths, but they will not negatively affect the environment as a whole. For this, third-party scientists were involved in the work on the project.