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MSFT’s Undersea Server Farm

Posted June 26, 2024

Matt Insley

By Matt Insley

MSFT’s Undersea Server Farm

We received quite a bit of feedback on Monday's issue, discussing the feasibility of the “28/36 rule” for housing. 

Barnes W. says: “Using that 28% number for renters in New Hampshire would put most renters underwater each month. 

“I have kids renting, and for a house, $2500 is cheap. Try living with that rent on a median income. And I can’t blame landlords because they have mortgages and taxes to pay. 

“Something is going to break. We see it breaking already with homelessness and kids living longer with parents, not able to afford rent.”

As for the six affordable cities featured in our post… 

“You do realize,” says a contributor, “that places like Pittsburgh and St. Louis are crime-infested dumps?

“I lived in PA for a while; it has a very high rate of violent crime and is like going back in time. Everything is old and dilapidated with a few exceptions (where wealthy people live).

“So no surprise you can find housing there at a discount!”

Fair points. Of course, people in these six cities might beg to differ — or not. 

Thanks, as always, for taking the time to write in!

Moving on… 

Send your opinions to,

Your Rundown for Wednesday, June 26, 2024...

Project Natick 

Microsoft’s Project Natick, an ambitious 2013 initiative to assess the viability of submerged data centers, officially launched in 2018. 

The project involved placing 855 large cylindrical containers — housing servers — 117 feet beneath the surface of the North Sea off the Scottish coast.

RUN Image courtesy: Microsoft

This novel setting allowed Microsoft to explore various data center conditions, including the use of nitrogen instead of oxygen in the sealed environment.

(Oxygen, by the way, can be detrimental to computer components.)

The cylinders ran unattended for exactly 25 months and eight days, according to trade publication Data Center Dynamics. 

One of the most striking findings from Project Natick was the improved reliability of underwater data centers. 

They experienced, for instance, only one-eighth the failure rate of their land-based counterparts with identical components.

“It worked,” confirms Noelle Walsh, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft's Cloud Operations + Innovation team. 

“We learned a lot about operations below sea level,” she says, “and vibration and impacts on the server.” 

Nevertheless, according to a statement from Microsoft… 

While we don’t currently have data centers in the water, we will continue to use Project Natick as a research platform to explore, test, and validate new concepts around data center reliability and sustainability, for example with liquid immersion.

Microsoft might be among the first to experiment with under-the-sea data centers, but Chinese data company Highlander installed its own 1400-ton data center last year in the sea near Hainan island, China. 

“[Highlander] uses the sea to cool its compute,” Data Center Dynamics notes. 

Which seems like a real stand-out benefit of underwater data clusters, taking into account the extraordinary amount of water needed to cool them.

And here’s another, er, unique strategy: Following Google’s lead, “a new data center being built by the National Security Agency (NSA) will use up to 5 million gallons a day of treated wastewater from a Maryland utility,” says Data Center Knowledge. 

Which is very on-brand. 

Market Rundown for Wednesday, June 26, 2024

The S&P 500 is down 0.25% to 5,520. 

Oil is slightly in the green to $80.85 for a barrel of WTI. 

Bitcoin is down 0.65% to $61,500. 

Gold is down today to $2,310 per ounce. 

Send your comments and questions to,

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