Microsoft and Facebook have plans to build a subsea cable to run data between the U.S and Southern Europe, but that’s not all that Microsoft has going on under the sea.

Project Natick is Microsoft’s ongoing research project to test the viability of building centers to house their data that would sit under the ocean. Data centers on land can get very hot, and companies spend enormous amounts to keep things cool. Building data centers that would sit under the ocean can help to cut costs greatly.

Microsoft states that half of the world’s population lives within 200 km of the ocean, and that by placing datacenters just offshore, near the people using them, better Internet and Cloud responsiveness can be implemented.

The target lifespan of Natick centers is about 20 years. The datacenters will be retrieved from the ocean every 5 years, and reloaded with new computers, ready to be redeployed for use.

Currently, Natick centers are designed to use power from a land-based grid to operate, but Microsoft states that it hopes to use renewable marine energy sources like off-shore wind, wave, tide or current energy to power the centers in the future.

Microsoft says that Natick is being developed as Cloud computing continues to grow in importance globally, both as a driver of economic growth and as a consumer of global resources.