Why did Microsoft embed a server farm in the sea?


Took two years ago Microsoft
A container farm the size of a container and sunk it near the Orkney Islands in the north of Scotland. The aim was to test whether it was better to place server farms on the seabed than on the ground. Earlier this summer, the company banished the farm with 864 servers from a depth of about 35 meters, and now it announces that it has come to the conclusion that this is not a bad solution at all.

What’s the problem with regular server farms, you ask? Microsoft explains that they are exposed to moisture, fluctuations in the weather, oxygen that causes corrosion and also various shocks that cause people to move around in the content and touch the equipment. Maybe at the bottom of the ocean, the company wondered, the conditions are better? And there are other reasons: server farms that are in the water, near the shore, will shorten the path that the information takes to the end consumer and provide him with faster streaming, gaming and browsing experiences. The cold water of the ocean cools the server farms and makes it possible to save energy.

View from above (Photo: Microsoft)
Photo: MicrosoftWhat do humans need? (Photo: Microsoft)
Photo: MicrosoftOxygen is overrated (Photo: Microsoft)

In fact, as early as 2015, Microsoft set up a server farm at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, not far from California, for 105 days. The second phase of the experiment, launched in 2018 in Scotland, was already much longer and far-reaching. One of the important findings in the experiment was that the underwater malfunction rate was eight times smaller compared to standard server farms. Microsoft estimates that the main reasons for this impressive efficiency are the nitrogen inside the container, which causes less corrosion compared to oxygen, and the lack of human beings to do so, pertaining to equipment and causing damage. And what happens if one of the servers breaks down? According to Dr. Tomer Simon, VP of National Technologies at Microsoft Israel, each piece of information has at least three copies, so the chance of losing information tends to be zero.

Photo: Reuven KapuchinskyDr. Tomer Simon (Photo: Reuven Kapuchinsky)

Experiencing underwater servers also has environmental benefits: First of all, no need to waste clean water on cooling. Second, one of the reasons why Microsoft chose to conduct the experiment in the Orkney Islands is that only green energy is used in the area – one that is produced using wind, solar and experimental technologies. Ordinary server farms are generally afraid to rely on such energies, but now Microsoft is thinking of locating server farms in the depths of the sea that will operate using offshore wind turbines.

Dr. Simon says that the project examined the impact of the server farm on the marine environment through artificial intelligence, cameras attached to the facility and other tools. It also turns out that Microsoft took advantage of the project for another technological experiment: Under the sea.

what is the next step? According to Dr. Simon, Microsoft intends to produce a structure with 12 server farms of this type and drown it in the ocean. The hope is that in the future the submarine server farms will turn from a small experiment into a commercial solution: “By 2040, 70 to 75 percent Hyper-connected, with 5th generation and autonomous vehicles. It will be possible to place server farms at sea two kilometers from each city using green energy and without wasting real estate. And there is another advantage – in the water it is much easier to physically protect the site. “


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