Phase 2 of Microsoft’s ‘Project Natick’ has been initiated at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney with the deployment of an underwater data centre powered by renewables. Naval Group led the installation of the 450kW subsea data centre at EMEC’s Billia Croo wave energy test site, on the west coast of the Orkney mainland, with local marine contractor Green Marine.
Project Natick is a Microsoft research project investigating the numerous potential benefits that a standard, manufacturable, deployable undersea data centre could provide. The project is part of Microsoft’s ongoing quest for cloud data centre solutions that are less resource intensive and offer rapid provisioning, lower costs, and high agility to meet the needs of cloud users around the world.
Deepwater deployment offers ready access to cooling, a controlled environment, and has the potential to be powered by co-located renewable power sources, such as the pioneering wave and tidal energy technologies testing nearby at EMEC’s test sites.
The data centre, which is as powerful as several thousand high end consumer PCs and has enough storage for about five million movies, is anticipated to remain on site for around one year with the potential to remain at EMEC for up to five years.
Ben Cutler, Project Natick Manager at Microsoft Research, Microsoft, commented: “Deploying at EMEC in the Orkney Islands, on a grid powered from locally-sourced renewable energy, matches our aspirations as a project and our commitment as a company to environmental sustainability.”
Further details on the project are available on Microsoft’s blog: The Orkney Islands in Scotland just became one of the most exciting places in tech