Microsoft Tests Underwater Data Center, Greenpeace Unimpressed


Microsoft’s “Leona Philpot” underwater data center has just completed its first stage of testing as part of Project Natick.

“Leona Philpot” is a fictional character from the viral Alternate Reality Game “i love bees” that was a part of the 2004 marketing campaign for Halo 2. Her latest incarnation, as a revolutionary new form of internet data hub, is even more exciting.

Traditional data centers consume nearly 3% of the world’s roughly 20,000TWh power usage. Leona Philpot, on the other hand, would provide less latency for users — since more than half of the world’s population is located near coastal waters — while using the sea it is submerged in for cooling. If connected to offshore renewable energy sources, the data center would be capable of doing all of this with zero emissions.

The steel-clad data center was equipped with sensors to help it monitor environmental conditions during the test. Now that Microsoft has retrieved Leona, it is currently analyzing the results of the test — and the effects on the center itself — back at their Redmond headquarters.

So Microsoft’s new data center is faster, more efficient, and potentially environmentally clean as a whistle. You’d think that everyone would be happy about this, right?


Greenpeace has managed to find reasons to complain, because of course they have. Tom Dowdall, one of the organization’s climate campaigners, claims, “Microsoft is far behind Apple, Google, and Facebook in sourcing renewable energy for existing data centers.”

Experimental underwater data centres could be more sustainable if connected to offshore wind power, but Microsoft must focus more on investing in new renewable energy now.

So Microsoft has invested massive amounts of money to create data centers that are faster, more efficient, and environmentally friendly in virtually every sense of the word. Greenpeace has responded by complaining, and suggesting that Microsoft needs to do what they’re already doing.

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