HomeWinBuzzer NewsMicrosoft Ends Project Natick Underwater Data Center Initiative

Microsoft Ends Project Natick Underwater Data Center Initiative

The outcomes of Project Natick are expected to shape Microsoft's strategies in data center technology, especially with the rising demand for AI services.

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has wrapped up its Project Natick, an experiment focused on data centers placed underwater, according to a report in DatacenterDynamics. The company decided that it gathered significant insights but will not continue with further subsea developments.

Trial Results and Insights

Microsoft's efforts to develop underwater was launched in 2014. In 2017, Project Natick was selected among the 190 finalists of the first World Changing Ideas Awards. By 2018, the Northern Isles data center, housing 864 servers, was submerged 117 feet below the water's surface near Scotland. Results shared in 2020 showed underwater data centers suffered much fewer hardware malfunctions—only one-eighth of those seen in traditional land-based centers.
 

The project demonstrated that underwater data centers could be deployed and made operational within 90 days, compared to the typical two-year setup time for traditional ones, indicating potential benefits in terms of reliability and deployment.

Project Conclusion

Noelle Walsh, who heads Microsoft's Cloud Operations + Innovation (CO+I) division, mentioned that Microsoft will not build more underwater data centers globally. The project has, however, provided extensive knowledge regarding underwater operations, including the impacts of vibration and environmental factors on servers. These insights will inform future data center innovations and technologies.

Future Directions and Research

Though discontinuing underwater centers, Microsoft intends to use the learnings from Project Natick to advance data center technologies. This includes exploring new ideas in reliability and , such as liquid immersion cooling—where server components are submerged in thermally conductive dielectric liquid, which is more efficient than traditional cooling systems.

The outcomes of Project Natick are expected to shape Microsoft's strategies in data center technology, especially with the rising demand for . The company remains dedicated to advancing data center infrastructure to align with industry needs.

Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus is the founder of WinBuzzer and has been playing with Windows and technology for more than 25 years. He is holding a Master´s degree in International Economics and previously worked as Lead Windows Expert for Softonic.com.