By Josh Erdman
Microsoft sunk a 38,000-pound container off the Cal Poly Marine Science Research Pier in Avila Beach yesterday. The 3-month research project is dubbed Project Natick and contains within its 10’x7′ vessel a data center with the processing power of 300 desktops.
Why? Because as anyone with a server room knows, storing data is hot business. Really hot. And effective heat dissipation is incredibly expensive as well as being an energy suck. So, with Natick, Microsoft is testing the feasibility of sinking a powerful data center to the bottom of the ocean to keep it cool.
However novel it may seem, this idea is not totally new.
Google attempted something earlier in 2011 only with a twist. Instead of sinking the entire data center onto the ocean floor, Google designed, and patented, a way to float the data center on a platform and pump ocean water through its cooling system. With Natick, Microsoft decided to take it to another level – below sea level, in fact.
This type of research and innovation is exciting on its own, and the collaboration with Cal Poly Marine Science right in our community makes it sweeter still.