Microsoft is working to put data centers under water.

Researchers working on "Project Natick" tested a prototype vessel on the ocean floor about a kilometer off the US Pacific Coast for about four months last year.

"The bottom line is that in one day this thing was deployed, hooked up and running," Microsoft Research NExT special projects leader Norm Whitaker said in a post at the company's website. "A wild ocean adventure turned out to be a regular day at the office. This is speculative technology, in the sense that if it turns out to be a good idea, it will instantly change the economics of this business."

With about half of the world's population living near large bodies of water and a shift to accessing software hosted in the Internet cloud, having datacenters submerged nearby could save money and speed up access to information, Microsoft said. Currents or tides can be tapped to generate electricity to power datacenters, and the cold depths provide natural cooling.

The next phase of Project Natick is being planned and may include a bigger vessel with 20 times the computing power than the original, which is back at the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, WA, reported Discovery News.

According to BBC News, many tech firms are now considering new options for housing data, including moving them to countries with colder climates. 

In 2013, Facebook opened a data center in the far north of Sweden, in the mining town of Lulea, 70 miles from the Arctic Circle, said BBC News. The 84-acre site houses tens of thousands of computer servers and runs entirely on renewable energy generated by nearby hydroelectric schemes.

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