An underwater Microsoft data center is being used to process global information to understand the viral proteins that cause COVID-19. The experimental facility is also being used to perform tasks for big science research in understanding climate chain, mapping cancer markers and fighting infectious disease.

Located beneath the sea in Scotland’s Orkney Islands, the center's  COVID-19 research effort is being performed through the Folding@home project, which was launched in October 2000 to simulate protein dynamics. The name derives from the fact that how proteins are folded determines their function. In the announcement this week, Spencer Fowers, a principal member of technical staff for Microsoft’s special projects research group, said work began with workloads geared to finding antibodies and determine how they can create immunizations. Described as about the size of a shipping container, the North Isles datacenter is 117 beneath the sea surface and has been working since June 2018 and runs 864 standard database servers. Microsoft says the effort has revealed sites on the virus to which potential drugs can bind. A major goal for the datacenter experiment is to study how well its plumbing maintains temperatures while the servers work 24/7.

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Last modified on Friday, 19 June 2020
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