According to Microsoft blooger John Roach, Microsoft recently deployed an experimental, shipping-container-size prototype on the seafloor near Scotland’s Orkney Islands.
“The deployment of the Northern Isles datacenter at the European Marine Energy Centre marks a milestone in Microsoft’s Project Natick, a years-long research effort to investigate manufacturing and operating environmentally sustainable, prepackaged data center units that can be ordered to size, rapidly deployed, and left to operate lights out on the seafloor for years,” Roach writes.
“That is kind of a crazy set of demands to make,” said Peter Lee, corporate vice president of Microsoft AI and Research, who leads the New Experiences and Technologies, or NExT, group. “Natick is trying to get there.”
According to Roach, more than half of the world’s population lives within about 120 miles of the coast. By putting data centers in bodies of water near coastal cities, data would have a short distance to travel to reach coastal communities, leading to fast and smooth web surfing, video streaming and game playing as well as authentic experiences for AI-driven technologies.
“For true delivery of AI, we are really cloud dependent today,” said Lee. “If we can be within one internet hop of everyone, then it not only benefits our products, but also the products our customers serve.”
Read the complete blog post here.