Water-cooling systems have long been used to keep computers from overheating, but how do you scale that up for huge data centers? According to Microsoft, you drop the data center to the bottom of the ocean. As the second phase of its Project Natick, the company has just deployed a data center in the frigid waters off Scotland’s Orkney Islands.
Cooling is one of the biggest costs of running a data center, so companies are coming up with some creative ways to keep the tech nicely chilled. Google set its DeepMind AI loose on the problem, while other companies have strategically built facilities in cold locations like the Arctic circle or beneath the fjords of Norway.
With Project Natick, Microsoft has been experimenting with submerging data centers deep beneath the ocean and pumping cold seawater through to keep them cool. In 2015, Phase 1 of the project saw a 10-ft (3-m) long prototype submerged off the coast of California for 105 days, which proved the feasibility of the concept.