It's corrosive, expensive to get things to and from it for replacement, leaks destroy the hardware, it's not close to power generation, internet access needs cables because RF doesn't penetrate water, everything is going need watercooling which is rather expensive.
The only way this makes sense to me is if there is the ability to create something akin to the cargo container as a building block of a data center, where you can have arbitrary compute and storage plug into a greater complex.
Every computer design has some element that will render a large part of the design inoperable in case of failure. Either it is a SAN head (even if you have two, the fail over can malfunction), or a switch setup.
Then there are things like failures of simultaneously purchased components (hard drives purchased at the same time, that are worked the same load will roughly fail at the time).
A custom made barge with dynamic positioning gear and a grabbing/coupling system to detach the pod from the subsea grid, lift it, and then re-attach it would make the servicing relatively efficient.
I could see the roundtrip time for a full hardware replacement of a pod being under an hour, conceivably under 10-15 minutes.
Which is something Google already did.
edit: I can't grammar
Can help with certain security situations, too. Not sure how much that applies if it's underwater, though. Most infiltrations would probably turn into a denial-of-service attack effectively haha.
Why would everything need water cooling? I'd expect that something using water would be used to keep the air inside the unit cool, and then the cooling for the servers themselves would be ordinary air cooling.
It might be fun but there are better things you can do with $700M.
Water cooling significantly reduces running costs which is why many DCs are switching to it. Over the long term you save money.
If we want to find a way to build beneath the sea that's a good place to start.
And why "everything is going need watercooling which is rather expensive" ??
If i remember correctly every OVH DC Server are using it.
It's a 3 hour drive from Seattle to the ocean.
Suppose you have a bunch of people somewhere, say, the US, and a bunch of other people somewhere else, say, China, and there's an ocean in between. If they need to work collaboratively on something, placing a datacenter in one country or the other yields asymmetric latency; someone has a lot more.
If you can just plop a datacenter exactly at the midpoint, everyone wins. It needn't be the biggest datacenter ever, just one that can handle the latency-sensitive tasks.
Plus, at depth, storms and typhoons don't affect things all that much, it's rather calm. So, the main threat might be from saboteurs rather than natural disasters [beside the salty environment] because beside a coast guard at the surface [which if contraband coming in is any proxy, it's pretty porous], you don't have a "police presence". So they'd have to rely heavily on monitoring systems.
If you need to fix something while the datacentre is in the middle of the ocean, the cost and time will be a multiple vs if it just off the coast.
Quick googling yields  datacenter land selling for more than $1 million per acre in SV and  Google's requirements for datacenter placement. The first four points listed are cheap electricity, carbon neutrality, lots of water, and large parcels of land; the 215 to 1200 acres mentioned in  would cost $240 million to $1.5 billion at the price quoted in . Sealed containers anchored to the free sea floor, running on free wave energy and cooled with free sea water would be a very clever way to satisfy those requirements while staying close to the customers.
But when it's a landing for some futuristic Microsoft project, which is about doing significant work to achieve relatively small improvement in something, and which is very likely to be non-environmentally-friendly… Really, just look at it. Enjoy how scrolling up and down makes your browser lag. And then look at the source. Just marvelous.
There also are many tried and true ways to manage the heated water so that it is safe for the environment [1, 2].
"We pump that seawater through cooling modules - which are direct water to water heat exchange modules - and then the water is gravity fed from the cooling modules back out to a temporary building, which serves the purpose of mixing incoming seawater with outgoing return water, so when we return the water to the Gulf it is at a temperature more similar to the incoming water." .
I'm sure Microsoft was aware of all this before publishing their report. Good on them for thinking creatively.
Most plastics will decompose under a year in the oceans turning it into soup basically.
But you could use sea water just a secondary cooling system, with non sea water flowing through the datacentre and a heat exchange between the two.
ETA: that's what I get for typing mindlessly instead of cutting and pasting.
Is there any connection or just a weird coincidence?
Since the current post is more of an original source and is currently ranked higher on the front page, we treated that one as the dupe and merged its comments here.
> perform maintenance for 5 years would be more significant
They would be built like Google, you don't waste money doing maintenance.
I think the main issue is it's unusual and as such costs of complexity and legal come in.
The crazy thing is there probably are financial market applications/HFT where having processing power exactly equidistant between to market centers with the most efficient path would make sense. (Running microwave instead of fiber, to get 1c vs. 2/3c, would also be interesting, but there are different engineering challenges there.)
Amazed Microsoft didn't mention this.
One question, what happens when there's a tsunami?
This is a particularly relevant question on the US west coast:
Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) have a lot more potential to expand our understanding of this planet and I think it is exciting. Just because we can't go there doesn't mean we can't tap into its power.
At the risk of sounding like a BBC documentary, the oceans are the engine of this planet and they deserve to be investigated thoroughly.
I imagine it would be better for maintenance to use the seawater to cool the coolant itself, that way they aren't pumping salt into their datacenter.
I wonder if they've considered an inert fluid to immerse the computers in? If you can use something like Fluorinert, or even high-grade mineral oil, you might be able to make the vessel not required to withstand crush forces as high since the fluid in the capsule can be at the same pressures.
I do love this idea because they can start putting data centers along of submarine cables. One in the middle of the Atlantic, between London and NYC would be great for HFT traders.
I wouldn't be surprised if the NSA wouldn't love something like this too. A whole data center on cross-oceanic cables would provide a lot of infrastructure they can use to analyze traffic in real-time.
Whatever reason they have for using nitrogen (making the thing fireproof is one reason), avoiding condensation isn't it. You could do that just by using dry air and packing a little silica gel. It's not like you're going to introduce more moisture over time into a sealed system.
Sounds like (pressurized) nitrogen had more to do with increasing the air density for heat transfer. But I still don't know why they chose nitrogen.
That said, nitrogen-refrigeration is commonly used for temperature control.
But then I'm thinking: there are volcanos deep in the ocean, and life around them is surely different than in colder areas, but it doesn't seem to have much impact on larger area. It surely depends a lot on where you place your datacenter, but, theoretically, it should be possible to make it harmless.
The other thing is that of course tech giants placing their datacenters under the water won't care a bit about correct placing, and in the end there won't be anyone to stop them.
Regardless of the effort and results, I think they should reconsider putting an illogical and patently false statement at the header of this article in attempt to gain interest about it.
Some of my data, or more specifically "my data" lives in my house, in servers in my garage. While the collaborative argument has some merit in proposing splitting latency differences, I think the vast majority of "our data" should end up living near where we are.
That results in a better question to ask, and that's "Why do people tend to put their data where they don't live?" Following, one may ask "Are there valid business models that can be created to help people put their data near where they live?"
Makes you wonder what vendors the Navy uses and if MSFT is using the same.
I can't see the benefits here, if they want water cooling colocation with hydro-electric or other freshwater flows seem much better.
If the datacenter will be located in international waters it can pretty much chose the country which it belongs to as it will have to sail under a flag (this effects stationary ojbects also e.g. oil rigs in international waters).
Now every country can claim upto 200KM as their exclusive economical waters so it will still be under the jurisdiction of the country to which those waters belong to unless MSFT plans to really put the datacenter in the deep ocean.
On the side and more hilarious note if anyone hacks a datacenter in international waters they've technically committed piracy so I wonder how will this effect the NSA :D
Although the downside of this is that countries can board and search vessels under the laws of the sea quite easily if they are in international waters.
The world generates 20,000 TWh of electricity per year, and maybe 10% is for IT. That's 7.2e18 joules of electricity / year in IT.
So it would take 780,000 years to heat by 1 C. Or 780 years to heat by 0.001 C.
Other sources of global warming are far, far worse.
Seriously, watch Mission Blue. Sylvia Earle has more dive hours than anyone, ever, and thusly personally mapped a great deal of the ocean and has since watched those places die.
They take the energy (Ie heat) from waves and power computers.
Energy (heat) in = Energy (heat) out.
If you had some electricity left over and shipped it out you'd be able to cool the oceans.
Maybe they already have a 'secret' unannounced private data center there.
I don't understand how an underwater data center would help with that
>The vision of operating containerized datacenters offshore near major population centers anticipates a highly interactive future requiring data resources located close to users. Deepwater deployment offers ready access to cooling, renewable power sources, and a controlled environment.
I don't understand why that needs to be done in an underwater data center.
>Enables rapid response to market demand, quick deployment for natural disasters and special events such as World Cup.
I don't understand how an underwater data center solves that.
>Latency is how long it takes data to travel between its source and destination. Half of the world’s population lives within 200 km of the ocean so placing datacenters offshore increases the proximity of the datacenter to the population dramatically reducing latency and providing better responsiveness.
Let's imagine you throw an underwater data center in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea to provide access to everybody. How is that more advantageous to just building the data center on one of the islands?
Overall, I guess I don't understand why we need an underwater data center, like at all. Is it mostly because of advanced cooling capability?
This reminds me of a book I read recently in which they put the servers on barges. I was an entertaining read, 1/1 would recommend.
> you have a bunch of people somewhere, say, the US, and a bunch of other people somewhere else, say, China
> If you can just plop a datacenter exactly at the midpoint
That would be Hawaii
Cheaper labour/costs to pick up the technology needed.
Of course, the ground can be reasonable cool, if you don't go too deep. The problem is, the heat will mostly stay where you put it---the ground is bad for actually moving the heat away.
There is a risk of not just industrial sabotage, but international espionage & terrorism.... and of course... Tom Cruise.
Watch out for that structure gel!