Microsoft uses fish cams to monitor undersea Project Natick data center

Microsoft added two new fish cams to its underwater Project Natick data center, allowing researchers and the general public a view of marine life around its technology project. The undersea cameras not only provide for relaxing imagery of fish swimming by the data center, but it will help Microsoft researchers observe the environmental impact created by sinking a data center onto the ocean floor and the exterior conditions of the data center in sea water.

“We installed two video cameras on the outside of the pressure vessel to observe environmental conditions near our data center,” Microsoft announced on Project Natick’s webpage.

microsoft project natick undersea cameras fish cams
Microsoft

Microsoft officially unveiled the second phase of Project Natick in June by sinking the 40-foot pod just off of Scotland’s coast. The undersea data center contains 12 racks and 864 servers that host 27.6 petabytes of data as an experiment. By positioning a data center in the ocean, Microsoft believes that it could deliver data faster, given that most a large percentage of people live near or along the coast. The data center connects to the internet via a large undersea cable, as well as the Orkney power grid in Scotland.

Additionally, the colder ocean water provides a natural source of cooling, and Microsoft is powering Project Natick entirely on renewable on-shore wind and solar and off-shore tide and wave energy sources. “A Natick data center co-located with offshore renewable energy sources could be truly zero emission: no waste products, whether due to the power generation, computers, or human maintainers are emitted into the environment,” Microsoft said.

Pending results from its experiments with Project Natick, Microsoft may locate more data centers in the ocean in the future. Given its underwater placement, Microsoft envisions Natick as a self-sustainable data center that could operate for up to five years with no maintenance required, which is the expected lifespan of the computers on board.

“After each five-year deployment cycle, the data center vessel would be retrieved, reloaded with new computers, and redeployed,” Microsoft said. “The target lifespan of a Natick data center is at least 20 years. After that, the data center is designed to be retrieved and recycled.”

The data that Microsoft collects from phase 2 will help it refine its designs and plans as it moves towards productization. Right now, however, Microsoft states that Natick is still in research phase, and it’s still too early to determine if it will be commercialized.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robo sidekicks, AC for your bed, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Computing

Having issues with Microsoft Edge? Here's how to fix the most common problems

If you're feeling frustrated with Microsoft Edge, or have run into a serious problem with Windows 10's built-in browser, take a look at these common issues and the solutions that can help you get back on track.
Computing

Intel’s ruler-shaped SSD packs 32TB of storage, aims to redesign servers

Intel now provides what it deems as the world’s densest and totally silent solid-state drive, but you’ll never install it in your desktop PC. Instead, it resembles an old ruler bringing speedy 32TB of storage to data centers.
Computing

Google Chrome now shows browser notifications in Windows 10 Action Center

Google's switch to displaying Chrome notifications inside Windows 10's Action Center gives users more control. Now, Windows 10's Focus Assist, a do not disturb function, can also be applied to Chrome notifications.
Computing

Lenovo’s new mobile workstations pack a punch with Xeon CPUs, Quadro graphics

Lenovo has two new mobile workstations arriving at the end of August based on eighth-gen Intel Core and Xeon processors. The ThinkPad P1 is the thinnest of the two at 0.7 inches while the bigger ThinkPad P72 measures 1 inch.
Computing

At Def Con, children show how easy it can be to hack an election

How hard is it to hack a voting machine or government website? Well, it turns out that it is literally child's play. Def Con tasked a group of children with hacking replica government websites, and many proved successful.
Product Review

5 generations later, Microsoft's Surface Pro is still the best 2-in-1 out there

At first glance, the 2017 Surface Pro looks like an incremental update to the Surface Pro 4, which was already our favorite detachable tablet. But does the newest version earn its own place at the top of the 2-in-1 heap?
Smart Home

Samsung SmartThings adds A.I.-based Wi-Fi for faster, smarter home networking

Samsung introduced the SmartThings Wifi, an A.I.-based multifunction mesh networking router with an integrated smart home hub. The device intelligently allocates network speed and bandwidth based on device and application needs.
Computing

Intel’s ninth-generation CPUs could launch on October 1

New rumors point to an October 1 release date for Intels' next-generation CPUs. The 9900K, 9700K, and 9600K could all debut in just a few weeks time, offering higher clocks and increased core counts.
Computing

AMD’s new 32-core Ryzen Threadripper chip is out, and you can get one for free

AMD’s 32-core Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX CPU is now available for $1,800. It’s compatible with motherboards packing the TR4 socket and the X399 chipset. The only other new Threadripper chip arriving this month will be the 2950X.
Computing

Google may launch two Pixelbook 2 laptops in October

Google may have a new Pixelbook design to show off in just a few weeks, with a new rumor suggesting two variations on the new laptop will be showcased at the start of October with new Intel hardware under the hood.
Gaming

Wage war on a budget with these fun and free first-person shooters

We all know about Halo and Call of Duty by now, but what about quality titles that won't cost you upward of $60? Check out our picks for the best free first-person shooter games from Paladins to Quake Champions.
Computing

Apple preps production of updated MacBook Air for a 2018 launch

To reach its rumored launch timeline of later this year for its low-cost notebook, Apple is expected to begin production of its updated MacBook Air soon. The sub-$1,000 laptop could launch as early as September or October.
Smart Home

White-hat Chinese hackers turn Alexa into a spy, briefly

A team of Chinese researchers revealed this week that they were able to use a cracked Amazon Echo to exploit a series of Alexa interface flaws to take control over an unteuched Echo running on the same network.