Rack of servers: Microsoft to submerge its servers

Rack of servers
Rack of servers: Microsoft to submerge its servers

Rack of servers in the underwater datacentre is eight times more reliable than those on land

Microsoft starts to submerge its rack of servers in liquid to improve performance and save energy after sinking an entire data centre to the bottom of the Scottish sea.

According to a report in The Verge, a rack of servers is being used for production loads “in what looks like a liquid bath”.

On Tuesday, in a report, Christian Belady, vice president of Microsoft’s data centre advanced development group, was quoted as saying, “It’s essentially a bathtub. The rack will lie down inside that bathtub, and what you’ll see is boiling just like you’d see boiling in your pot. The boiling in your pot is at 100 degrees Celsius, and in this case it’s at 50 degrees Celsius”.

As the fluorocarbon-based liquid directly hits components, it works by removing heat and the fluid reaches a lower boiling point to condense and fall back into the bath as a raining liquid.

To mine for bitcoin and other crypto currencies, this liquid cooling has been used by crypto currency players.

“It potentially will eliminate the need for water consumption in data centres, so that’s a really important thing for us,” said Belady.

“It’s in a small data centre, and we’re looking at one rack’s worth. We have a whole phased approach, and our next phase is pretty soon with multiple rack of servers”.

In an earlier experiment, as part of its Project Natick, Microsoft sank a shipping container-sized data centre 117 feet deep in the seafloor off Scotland’s Orkney Islands in 2018.

Confirming viability of seafloor data storage in the near future, the tech giant Microsoft in September 2020 said it retrieved the data centre coated in algae, barnacles and sea anemones.

This hardware will help the researchers understand why the rack of servers in the underwater datacentre is eight times more reliable than those on land, as per what researchers think.

The team hypothesises that the primary reasons for the difference are the atmosphere of nitrogen, which is less corrosive than oxygen and the absence of people to bump and jostle components.

Microsoft said in a statement, “By putting data centre underwater near coastal cities, data would have a short distance to travel, leading to fast and smooth web surfing, video streaming and game playing”.

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