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Following up on the project known as ‘Project Natick’ Microsoft has applied for a patent titled ‘artificial reef datacenter’. The intent is to combine cost efficient datacenters with artificial reefs built around them that will help promote marine life and create safe ecosystems in oceans, rivers, and lakes.

According to the patent application, Microsoft’s scheme is to create submerged datacenters that will also operate as sanctuaries for undersea life. The lead author of the patent application is Ben Cutler, leader of ‘Project Natick‘, Microsoft’s prototype demonstration of a data center inside a submerged vessel.

Despite the fact that the patent does not go into great detail, the patent images speak for themselves, displaying plans for an artificial reef that will act as host for a pressure vessel containing the data center.

Using submerged data centers Microsoft expects to offer shelter to oceanic, river and lake marine life, while at the same time providing ‘edge speeds’ to large city areas situated close to the sea.

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Safety measures

With great ideas, however, comes great risk, since unwanted natural or man-made phenomena could intrude the data-center. That is why Microsoft has also patented an intrusion detection system that includes acoustic, pressure, vibration, temperature, voltage, current and fiber network integrity sensors.

'Artificial Reef Data Center - Fig. 3'
The structure of the submerged vessel according to Microsoft’s patent application

 

In the case of a successful intrusion the data-center is “flooded”, “critical information is destroyed”, “irreversible destruction actions are performed on persistent data store elements” and finally, “all the local data is permanently rendered inaccessible”.

Efficient maintenance

All the data-center components will be removable according to the application, allowing Microsoft to take them to the surface for maintenance without disturbing the sea life around them. Within the infrastructure designed to encourage marine life, Microsoft plans to implement multiple containers, making the submerged data-centers easy to maintain and operate.

Back in February of 2016 Microsoft tested a submarine data-center, successfully using a waterproof container connected with fiber optic cables that can withstand environmental damage.