Underwater data centres make a lot of sense. Half of the world’ population lives a few hours travel from an ocean. If land real estate prices are high then we remember that the ocean floor has little competition for space. As long as servicing is not an issue, which is a question still under investigation, underwater data centres should prove useful.
Microsoft has unveiled Project Natick, an underwater data centre on trial for 4 months. This first centre has been positioned about a kilometre off the West Coast of the USA. As with other projected underwater centres it should provide quick and inexpensive data access for those using the cloud. As more and more computers make use of the cloud for data storage there will be a need for far more data centres.
The initial Natick project looks promising, but is still a smaller sized experiment. If it proves viable the future commercial data centres will have twenty times the storage capacity. The target lifespan of each centre should be about twenty years, but they will be retrieved and upgraded every five years.
One of the major issues with computers and data centres has always been cooling. Power to the machines causes heating that will quickly prove destructive if not compensated for. But underwater data centres should sat naturally cool because of the environment, removing a problem common in other data centre situations. The other major issue is supplying that power. But in accordance with environmental principles these data centres are intended to be self-sufficient, probably using wave and tidal power. The environment at 30 feet below the water surface, where data centre Natick present is, looks to be quite stable; temperatures should stay consistently cool and tidal forces should be regular.
In the near future Microsoft hopes to have underwater data storage facilities installed and operational within 90 days of request.