01 Project Natick, Scotland Earlier this year, Microsoft lowered a huge white cylinder into the water off the Orkney Islands in a project designed to create a datacentre using as little energy as possible. The 40-foot-long prototype is designed to operate for up to five years without maintenance and is naturally cooled by the chilly northern seas. A heat-exchange process, more usually used for cooling submarines, pipes seawater directly through the radiators on the back of each server rack and back out into the ocean. It’s powered by renewable energy from the European Marine Energy Centre’s tidal turbines and wave energy converters. Tidal currents in the area, says Microsoft, travel up to 9mph at peak intensity and 10-foot waves are a regular sight. The datacentre is loaded with 12 racks containing a total of 864 servers and associated cooling-system infrastructure. Assembled and tested by a submarine-building firm in France, it was shipped on a flatbed truck to Scotland where it was attached to a ballast-filled triangular base and sunk beneath the waves. If Project Natick works out as planned, Microsoft hopes to be able to create environmentally sustainable, pre-packaged datacentre units that can be ordered in a range of […]

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