Microsoft has dropped a datacentre into the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of the Orkney Islands in Scotland, as part of a project exploring sustainable IT.
The 40-foot-long sea container - which holds a total of 864 servers and is sitting 117 feet down on the seabed - is powered by renewable energy in the form of tidal turbines and wave energy converters, as well as land-based wind turbines.
It also uses seawater to maintain the correct temperature - as opposed to the expensive and energy-zapping cooling devices used in conventional datacentres.
In a blog post Microsoft's UK chief executive Cindy Rose said: "I often hear of exciting research projects taking place at our headquarters in Redmond and other locations in the US, so I'm delighted this venture is taking place in the UK.
"It sends a message that Microsoft understands this country is at the cutting edge of technology, a leader in cloud computing, artificial intelligence and machine learning."
Microsoft claims that sea-based datacentres can also shorten the distance data has to travel to reach coastal communities, thereby improving the computing capabilities of these regions.
The datacentre, which was assembled and tested in France, can hold data and process information for up to five years without maintenance, Microsoft claimed. The unit will be monitored for a year and then retrieved.
Microsoft said the prototype will be used as a benchmark to establish whether marine-based facilities are a viable option for the future of datacentre technology - with demand for datacentre space only set to increase.
Project manager Ben Cutler said: "When you are in this kind of exponential growth curve, it tells you that most of the datacentres that we'll ever build, we haven't built yet.
"We know if we can put something in here and it survives, we are good for just about any place we want to go."
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