Microsoft Testing Undersea Immersion Cooling

Double Immersion Cooling

February 7, 2016

Project Natick is a research project run by Microsoft to evaluate the possibilities of cooling servers under water and in the future, even generating power to run those servers thanks to waves, tides or sea wind turbines.

Not much has been disclosed about Project Natick, but here are some facts:

  • 17 ton cylindrical vessel submerged just off Pacific Coast.
  • Standard rack with standard servers.
  • Filled with pressurised nitrogen to improve heat transmission.
  • Install computing power of 27kW.

The submerged servers ran during 90 days allowing Microsoft to even test with some real Azure loads. Microsoft is now looking to continue with this research by building larger capsules. The general analysis is positive and Microsoft reports that nothing negative happened during the initial experiment, but as this technology continues to evolve and has the potential of going mainstream, the idea of having hundreds or even thousands of these "vessels" in our oceans will surely raise the question of potential environmental repercussions.

At Submer we've been following Project Natick very closely and find it extremely interesting as at the end of the day it, its a form of double immersion cooling (servers in nitrogen + vessel in ocean).

Submer is totally convinced that the rise of direct liquid cooling in Data Centers is likely inevitable. As Moore's Law continues with its projections, air-based cooling systems won't cope with the amount of heat that needs to be dissipated. It won't even be possible to move air quick enough to extract such heat, so not even free air cooling will be a solution. This is why the "big players" like Microsoft, Google and Amazon have already seriously been evaluating liquid forms of cooling large-scale Data Centers for some time. Don't be the last to join the Immersion Cooling wave and contact us!

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