Back in 2018, Microsoft began Project Natick, deploying a custom-designed data center to the sea floor off the coast of Scotland. Aiming to determine whether the underwater environment would bring benefits to energy efficiency, reliability, and performance, the project was spawned during ThinkWeek in 2014, an event designed to share and explore unconventional ideas.
This week, Microsoft reported that the project had been a success. The Northern Isles data center was recently lifted from the ocean floor in a day-long operation, and teams swooped in to analyse the hardware, and the results coming out of the project are surprisingly impressive.
Continue reading “Underwater Datacenter Proves To Be A Success”
Have you heard that Microsoft is testing underwater data centers? On the surface (well, actually on the ocean floor) it’s not a bad idea. Project Natick seals a node of servers in a steel pipe for an undersea adventure planned for at least 10 years. The primary reason is to utilize cold ocean temperatures to keep the machines cool as they crunch through your incessant Candy Crush Saga sessions.
Passive cooling is wonderful, and really drops the energy footprint of a data center, albeit a very small one which is being tested. Scaled up, I can think of another big impact: property taxes. Does anyone know what the law says about dropping a pod in the ocean? As far as I can tell, laying undersea cabling is expensive, but once installed there are no landlords holding out their hands for a monthly extraction. Rent aside, taking up space with windowless buildings sucking huge amounts of electricity isn’t going to win hearts and minds of the neighborhood. Undersea real estate make sense there too.
But it’s fun to play Devil’s Advocate, and this one immediately raised my eyebrow. I read as much Sci Fi as time allows, and am always interested to see which authors are registering the best technology predictions. This is the second time in short order that I turn to [William Hertling’s] work. Back in November, Google announced a project to add predictive responses to Gmail. This parallels the premise of [Hertling’s] Singularity Series which begins with Avogadro Corp. Another major point in that novel is the use of offshore data centers.
Continue reading “Devilishly Advocative: Microsoft Heats Ocean; Builds Skynet’s Safe Haven”
Running a data center takes a lot of work, and even making sure the ambient temperature for hundreds of boxes is in the proper range is an arduous task. When faced with the prospect of installing hundreds of temperature sensors in an EMC data center, [Vivek] had a better idea: put just a few sensors on a robot and drive around the racks. With the right software, it’s a breeze to automate the process and build a near real-time temperature monitoring solution for a huge data center.
The data center robot is based on a iRobot Create, basically a Roomba without a vacuum. Attached to the robot is a netbook, Arduino, and a PVC mast housing three temperature sensors and a USB webcam.
Using the floor of the data center for navigation, the robot canvasses the racks sending temperature data back to a server via WiFi. From there, the temperatures can be graphed to make sure the racks aren’t too hot or too cold.
You can check out a video of the robot in action after the break.
Continue reading “Roomba Becomes Data Center Robot”
[DocDawning] had a nice home network up and running, but the messy pit housing the hardware made him avoid that part of the house. In an effort to cut down on noise, and clean up the clutter, he built himself a very nice data center inside a small closet.
One of the biggest changes in the setup provides adequate cooling. He cut a vent hole into a wall shared between the closet and a hallway. This was just the right size for a few large cooling fans which suck air into the enclosed space. But cool-air intake must be accompanied by hot-air outflow so he added an exhaust vent in the ceiling. This also received a trio of big fans, and as you can see above, the integrated LEDs act as a light source for the server farm.
The final part of the plan involved machine-specific brackets mounted to the walls of the enclosure. These racks were built out of 1×1 white wood. They hold the hardware in place leaving plenty of room to run cables. The new setup even opened up enough wall space to mount power and networking hardware. Now everything has its place, and [DocDawning] can finally close the door on his noisy servers.
Remember Mauritius from High School geography? We didn’t either, but apparently it’s a small island nation east of the southern tip of Africa. It seems they are trying to develop an industry in eco-friendly data centers. The plan is to use a pipeline to gather cold water from the ocean, run it two miles to the island, and use it as inexpensive cooling. Because rooms packed with servers generate copious amounts of heat it’s easy to see how this can reduce the cost of maintaining a data center.
The thing that struck us here is, how eco-friendly is this? The article mentions that this technology is fairly mature and is already used in several places. With that in mind, isn’t this just another way to raise the temperature of the oceans, or does the environmental savings of not using electricity or gas to produce the cooling offset this?