Microsoft sinks data centre off Scottish archipelago

June 6, 2018
The Northern Isles data centre consists of a 40-foot (12.2 metre) long white cylinder containing 864 servers and can lie on the seabed for up to five years

US tech giant Microsoft has submerged a data centre off the Orkney archipelago in northern Scotland in a project to save on the energy used to cool the servers on land, the firm said Wednesday.

The Northern Isles data centre consists of a 40-foot (12.2 metre) long white cylinder containing 864 servers—enough to store five million movies—and can lie on the seabed for up to five years.

An brings electricity from Orkney's renewable energy network of and to the centre and carries data from the servers to the shore and the internet.

"More than half of the world's population lives within about 120 miles of the coast," Microsoft said on its website, describing the data centre as a "milestone" for the company.

"By putting data centres in bodies of water near , data would have a short distance to travel to reach coastal communities," it said.

The sea offers ready and free access to cooling—which is one of the biggest costs for land-based data centres. It is also far quicker to deploy a data centre offshore than build on land.

The downside is that if the computers on board break, they cannot be repaired. The centre is also very small compared to the giant warehouses used to store the world's information.

The cylinder was built in France by shipbuilding company Naval and then driven to the Orkney Islands, an archipelago of around 70 islands.

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3 comments

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Cusco
not rated yet Jun 06, 2018
At least they don't have to worry about security.
BrettC
not rated yet Jun 06, 2018
They should look into making a deal to put them in the base of offshore wind farms. They could share the cost of installation of the cables, power, etc... Should also make it easier to service them. The base of those structures are probably mostly empty anyway.
JamesG
1 / 5 (1) Jun 06, 2018
Ocean warming. Oh no. Hurricanes and tornadoes will wipe Scotland off the map.

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