Microsoft has been trialling an underwater data centre which can be powered by the tide.
The company says the technology brings a number of benefits over traditional land-based data centres, such as lower latency for its users and dramatically reduced cooling costs.
Currently, cooling makes up a significant proportion of the energy used in a data centre, almost as much as the power used by the IT equipment.
Due to the higher density of water and its ability to transport heat more effectively than air, deep-sea data centres are much more efficient than those on land.
Microsoft’s Project Natrick trial placed a facility into a water-tight enclosure and lowered it into the sea off the coast of California.
The 10 by seven foot container vessel was named Leona Philpot (a character in Microsoft's ‘Halo’ video game franchise) and was deployed between August and December.
The data centres are designed to require no maintenance during their five-year lifecycles, which encompasses the anticipated duration of the computer equipment.
Microsoft said that with 50 per cent of the world’s population living near a coast, Project Natrick modules would allow for a close geographical proximity to densely populated areas which would lower the lag time of internet connections.
While every data centre on land is different and needs to be tailored to varying environments and terrains, Microsoft said these underwater containers could be mass produced for very similar conditions underwater, which are consistently colder the deeper you go.