Project Natick is the testing of a prototype vessel on the ocean floor, this was released after a four-month plan, the Natick mission was to build and operate an underwater data centre and the overall goal of the project is to deploy data centres at scale anywhere in the world from decision to power-on within 90 days, this move to take data centres to the ocean would allow Microsoft to make the cable to the customers as short as possible.
Microsoft said with about half of the world’s population living near large bodies of water and a shift to accessing software hosted in the internet cloud, nearby submerged data centres could save money and speed up access to information, currents or tides could be tapped to generate electricity to power data centres, and the cold depths would provide natural cooling.
“Deepwater deployment offers ready access to cooling, renewable power sources, and a controlled environment.” A diver went down monthly to check on the vessel, otherwise the research team remained in contact remotely.
The next phase of Project Natick is being planned and may include a bigger vessel, with 20 times the computing power than the original, which is back at the Microsoft headquarters in Washington.
A Natick data centre is intended to last up to five years, which is the anticipated lifespan of the computers contained within the steel shell, after each five-year deployment cycle, the data centre would be retrieved, reloaded with new computers, and redeployed. The target lifespan of a Natick data centre is at least 20 years. After that, the data centre is designed to be retrieved and recycled.