Microsoft sunk a purpose built data centre off the coast of Orkney, Scotland as part of project Natick which aims to find out if they can make sustainable, rapidly deployable, lights-out sea floor data centres.
This system is made up of 864 servers in 12 racks, using the sea water for cooling and Orkney’s wind, solar, and tidal power generation for power. The datacentres entire power consumption comes only from the Islands power generation which is pretty cool.
The purpose of the system doesn’t seem to be permanent (or is meant to function for a number of years before maintenance), so those wondering what happens when there’s a hardware failure, nothing, it operates as a lights out system, meaning there’s no access to it once it is deployed. They are designed to be rapidly deployed to coastal areas and function for a set number of years providing computer power to they area they are deployed in, or that is the long term plan at least.
The system uses under a quarter of a megawatt of power when operating at full capacity, using fully renewable energy, and utilising the sea for cooling, its a pretty cool idea.
Some of the key figures around this part of the project.
- The container is about the size of a shipping container
- Using 100% renewable energy
- It consumes around 240KW
- 864 standard Microsoft servers with FPGA, and 27.6 petabytes of storage
- the internal atmosphere is 1 atmo of nitrogen
- it was deployed in 90 days from factory to operations
- the planned operation time is 5 years without maintenance