Criticism that Microsoft sucked up water even during drought and used it for AI training, while Microsoft began considering small nuclear reactors as a power source for data centers

Microsoft, which has

a long-term partnership with AI development organization OpenAI, conducts training on AI such as ChatGPT in its own data centers. However, it has been pointed out that Microsoft's data center in West Des Moines, Iowa, was using a large amount of water for AI training despite the local drought. In response to this, it has been reported that Microsoft is considering supplying power to data centers using ` `small modular nuclear reactors ,'' which are attracting attention as a future energy source.

Critics Furious Microsoft Is Training AI by Sucking Up Water During Drought

Microsoft Looking to Use Nuclear Reactors to Power Its Data Centers | Extremetech

Training high-performance AI like ChatGPT using supercomputers requires large amounts of water to cool the computers. For this reason, Microsoft's data center in Iowa draws water from the nearby Raccoon and Des Moines rivers to cool computers used for AI training.

Microsoft reported that global water consumption increased by approximately 34% from 2021 to 2022. Xiaolei Ren of the University of California points out, ``It is no exaggeration to say that a large part of the increase in water consumption is due to AI training.''

On the other hand, the Raccoon River and Des Moines River have been experiencing water shortages for more than three years since 2020. In particular, in 2023, which is predicted to have a 90% chance of being the hottest year since 1850, water shortages have become so severe that local residents say they can't even paddle a canoe in their local rivers.

Even during this drought, Microsoft continues to consume large amounts of water to train its AI. On the other hand, Jake Grove, a representative of an Iowa citizen group, said, ``ChatGPT is not essential to human life.However, water is essential for humans to live.That precious water is super 'It's being used by computers.' Mr. Grove also worries that, ``If the demand for AI increases further in the future, and at the same time the impact of climate change increases, water shortages in Iowa will become more frequent than they are now.''

Water used in a data center is either evaporated after the facility is cooled, or turned into water that requires a specialized treatment called ' blowdown .' In other words, it is difficult to provide local residents with tap water as is. Meanwhile, a Microsoft spokesperson said, ``Microsoft constantly monitors the environmental impact of its data centers. Going forward, by 2030, Microsoft will reduce its carbon footprint, use recycled water, and increase its industrial We are aiming for zero waste.'

Microsoft is also considering using small modular nuclear reactors to cool its facilities. In fact, Microsoft is recruiting for a ``Principal Program Manager for Nuclear Technology'' on its job posting page, and is ``building a small modular nuclear reactor to power a data center for Microsoft Cloud and AI training.'' We are looking for someone who can perform technical evaluations for implementation.''

Unlike the reactors used in conventional nuclear power plants, small modular reactors can be assembled in factories and require relatively little water to cool the fuel rods. Additionally, even if the cooling system becomes unavailable for some reason, it has been reported that water in the water tank can be used to safely cool the system.

What is the 'small modular nuclear reactor' that is attracting attention as a new generation power generation method? -GIGAZINE

In fact, a small modular nuclear reactor developed by NuScale Power, an American private nuclear company, was approved by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 2020.

'Small modular nuclear reactor' that can be operated more safely with natural cooling is finally approved by regulatory authorities - GIGAZINE

Microsoft and other data centers need to keep their facilities constantly cooled, so power consumption will increase with climate change, and data centers will have to stop operating if local power supply becomes difficult. I'm running. So Microsoft is trying to solve the power supply problem by introducing its own small modular nuclear reactor that is off the local power grid.

Microsoft's Director of Nuclear Technology Engineering said, ``This recruitment for a Principal Program Manager for Nuclear Technology is a challenging initiative, and it is likely that the project to actually introduce small modular nuclear reactors into data centers will take place. It will take years.”

in Science, Posted by log1r_ut