Microsoft has just launched something big. Literally. It has placed a datacenter—a facility that houses connected servers—off the Orkney Islands, near the northeastern coast of Scotland, reports Yahoo. A datacenter collects, processes, and stores large amounts of data, and Microsoft’s underwater center will perform the same functions as a traditional center but in a submarine-like capsule. It will be unmanned, so if something fails onboard, it cannot be repaired. An undersea cable attached to the capsule will deliver the data to the wider internet. The idea behind placing the center underwater is that datacenters use a huge amount of electricity, run very hot, and require massive amounts of cooling—and the seawater provides instant cooling.
In addition, the center plans to capture energy generated by the movement of waves. According to Microsoft, the center, which will be deployed for five years, is 40 feet long and is loaded with 12 racks containing 864 servers and 27.6 petabytes of storage—enough to store five million movies. One consultant is concerned about the potential environmental impact. "You just end up with a warmer sea and bigger fish," he tells the BBC. And the location may not be as ideal as it seems, given that most of Europe’s datacenters are located in large cities because that’s where the greatest demand is. This is the second phase of what Microsoft is calling Project Natick. Phase one involved placing a similar but smaller vessel off the coast of California. (Read more Microsoft stories.)