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Apple's North Carolina data center to open "any day now"

post #1 of 94
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A new report says local officials expect Apple's $1 billion data center in North Carolina to begin operations "any day now," while aerial footage of the site shows continued construction, supporting rumors that Apple may double the size of the server farm.

According to a Data Center Knowledge report published Sunday, the data center is "fully operational," with Apple beginning to "ramp up production" at the server farm. The Cupertino, Calif., company could be planning to build a second facility on the site, the report notes.

Rumors of a planned expansion to the data center by Apple picked up steam last week when John Paczkowksi of Digital Daily, citing anonymous sources, reported that Apple was considering doubling the 500,000 square-foot space. The North Carolina data center is already five times larger than the company's current data center in Newark, California.

Apple first announced the Maiden, NC location for the data center in July 2009, although few details of the project have been released. The company has also begun hiring workers for the data center and is expected to create at least 50 Apple-badged employees and as many as 250 ancillary positions.

In July, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer told analysts during an earnings call that the North Carolina data center remained on schedule. "We expect to complete it by the end of the calendar year, and begin to use it," said Oppenheimer.

Though the exact purpose of the massive server farm remains unknown, analysts speculate that it will play a central role in Apple's move toward cloud computing and streaming media. Apple's new $99 Apple TV, with just 8GB of on-board storage, is built for streaming. Additionally, the recently released MacBook Air, which Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs called the "future" of the entire MacBook line, is equipped with only flash memory. With the entry-level 11.6-inch model sporting just 64GB of flash storage, the ultra-thin notebook line would greatly benefit from cloud-based initiatives.

Local realtor Bill Wagenseller added to the speculation of a second facility by posting a YouTube video containing aerial footage of the nearly operational data center. In the video, a large-scale construction project is seen underway directly behind the data center, although it is unclear whether the work is for the rumored expansion.



"Though there has been no official announcement, I discovered that site work is being performed and it clearly appears that there may be some truth to the speculation," Wagenseller wrote in the video's description. In February, Wagenseller posted footage of the server farm while under construction.
post #2 of 94
The video looks like crap on my iPhone but I'd have to say they are laying out a parking lot. They certainly could use one.

In any event I'd hate to have to write the check for the electric bill every month for that place. I probably could retire on a couple of those.
post #3 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

The video looks like crap on my iPhone but I'd have to say they are laying out a parking lot. They certainly could use one.

In any event I'd hate to have to write the check for the electric bill every month for that place. I probably could retire on a couple of those.

Nonsense - with only 50 employees for a 24 / 7 operation they don't need much parking - that would only be about 15 people working each of 3 shifts. Besides, it looks like the one end of the building might be a parking garage as it has a driveway going in and out the other side.
post #4 of 94
That has to be the whitest building I've ever seen.

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post #5 of 94
they seriously need a big apple logo on top.
post #6 of 94
+1 It looks like parking.

If you compare it to the video shot on Feb 19, 2010 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDXSSi1qStA
it shows parking for a few hundred vehicles in the same spot.
post #7 of 94
Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL Data Center!
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post #8 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

The video looks like crap on my iPhone but I'd have to say they are laying out a parking lot.

Actually, the dirt area towards the top of the screen/opposite side of building was used for parking during construction and for all the equipment. Likely some of it will get regrown with grass and some for parking or perhaps some ancillary buildings.
post #9 of 94
Being Apple has mentioned the data farm however has not gone into detail suggests something BIG to come. Bigger and more intense than just cloud streaming of Itunes.

Stay tuned the answer is coming sooner than we expect.
post #10 of 94
New home of the App Store? With the Mac App Store coming within 90 days, this new data centre is approaching ready.
post #11 of 94
The back of Apple's data centre is better looking than the front of Microsoft's.
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post #12 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL Data Center!

Beat me to it!
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post #13 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

The video looks like crap on my iPhone but I'd have to say they are laying out a parking lot. They certainly could use one.

In any event I'd hate to have to write the check for the electric bill every month for that place. I probably could retire on a couple of those.

A more than 500,000 square foot parking lot? For roughly 300 employees?

The additional site actually looks larger than the already-built facility. Remember the scale we're talking about. I doubt that's all for a parking lot. and they wouldn't have left a massive parking lot for the last minute, would they?

I definitely think they're building something else, but I wouldn't assume it's more data-center space they're building hmmm, chip fab plant maybe? )
post #14 of 94
Added parking for developers come to plead their case following Mac App Store screening.

(sarcasm, don't get spun up)
post #15 of 94
By the way, at the lower end of the building is what looks like a parking lot, with quite a large number of cars already in it (I'd assume there are a large number of engineers in there working to get things set up), and it's only about 1/3 full? They look fairly small, but it's a rather huge building… the scale is hard to grasp from the video.

[update] on second viewing, those are too symmetrical, and maybe a bit small to be cars…? hmmm, maybe part of that top area is for parking, but surely not all of it?
post #16 of 94
Wouldn't checking local county building permits lay the expansion speculation to rest?

Lord knows building anything, including an outhouse, requires signatures and paperwork. For a data centre expansion? Umm, I'm guessing, yes.
post #17 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

That has to be the whitest building I've ever seen.

I agree!

Quote:
Originally Posted by speedxdesign View Post

they seriously need a big apple logo on top.

Big enough to be seen by the ISS as it flies over!

Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL Data Center!

HAHAHA!!! BRILLIANT!!

Incidentally, that's a HUGE building for only 300 employees. Especially if they're broken up into shifts. I think working there would be a somewhat surreal experience. The building alone (without the rumored expansion) already covers more than 10 acres! Boggles my mind!
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post #18 of 94
Ladies and gentlemen I give you ED209
post #19 of 94
I think that this data center is for all the mac apps that will be coming out in the next few months. They need a place to store all the crap and this could be the place. They must be expecting a ton of apps so that's why they are doing this. This is my guess.
post #20 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL Data Center!

POST OF THE MONTH
post #21 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterO View Post

Wouldn't checking local county building permits lay the expansion speculation to rest?

Lord knows building anything, including an outhouse, requires signatures and paperwork. For a data centre expansion? Umm, I'm guessing, yes.

Yup, let's look up who robo-signed all that stuff. They might know something... Or maybe not at all.
post #22 of 94
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Originally Posted by powderdust View Post

ladies and gentlemen i give you ed209

<ed-209>
FREEZE!

YOU ARE IN VIOLATION OF SECTION 3.1415926-1984: INSTALLING WINDOWS ON APPLE HARDWARE.

YOU ARE ORDERED TO STOP IMMEDIATELY.

YOU HAVE 10 SECONDS TO COMPLY...

</ed-209>
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post #23 of 94
I hope we can get a virtual tour of this place once it's up and running. I'd love to see the belly of the beast.
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post #24 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Futuristic View Post

I hope we can get a virtual tour of this place once it's up and running. I'd love to see the belly of the beast.

I doubt it would look terribly exiting.
post #25 of 94
Flash memory is a natural replacement for the traditional hard drive as prices come down. Nothing to do with cloud computing which in my view is a horrendous idea. Reminds me of client/server computing in the 1980's with dumb terminals connected to a central mainframe. Not everyone has access to fast reliable broadband. Hard drives are here to stay in one form or another.
post #26 of 94
Send Bill back up there, but FOCUS this time.
post #27 of 94
In the video, what are those two cylinder-like projections? The nuclear power station up the ways from me has similar cylinders! Heheheheh.

Really; what are they?

 

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post #28 of 94
Does anyone have a clue where are the power lines!?
Such a remote building, that needs so much power and no power lines visible!!?
post #29 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe hs View Post

I doubt it would look terribly exiting.

Excitement is in the eye of the beholder.
I am easily mesmerized by such simple things as campfire flames and pretty blinking lights.
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post #30 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post

In the video, what are those two cylinder-like projections? The nuclear power station up the ways from me has similar cylinders! Heheheheh.

Really; what are they?

They'd tell you, but then they'd have to kill you.
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post #31 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ppietra View Post

Does anyone have a clue where are the power lines!?
Such a remote building, that needs so much power and no power lines visible!!?

The power lines are probably buried.

Hmmm. Come to think of it, it would be really cool if they covered the entire roof with solar panels. Granted, solar technology currently doesn't have the energy density necessary to power a server farm on its own, but it would be a nice supplement to grid power.

Okay. But now I'm just thinking of some basic calculations: let's say, just for the fun of it, we could get 75 watts out of a 4.5 (1.5' x 3') sq ft panel. The roof of the building would be able to hold about 100,000 panels, yielding about 7.5 MW of power. Maybe that's enough??

That would be cool if the entire facility was "green".
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post #32 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun, UK View Post

Flash memory is a natural replacement for the traditional hard drive as prices come down. Nothing to do with cloud computing which in my view is a horrendous idea. Reminds me of client/server computing in the 1980's with dumb terminals connected to a central mainframe. Not everyone has access to fast reliable broadband. Hard drives are here to stay in one form or another.

I completely agree. Remember when they were called "thin clients" and we all hated them?
post #33 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post

In the video, what are those two cylinder-like projections? The nuclear power station up the ways from me has similar cylinders! Heheheheh.

Really; what are they?

They are obviously tankage of some sort. I can only think of two things: fuel for backup generators (although this is unlikely; they're way big for that and such tanks are usually buried.

It does look like the tanks are tucked in with all the other HVAC stuff in that "corral" out back. Could it be makeup water for a cooling system or something like that? Does anybody know if data center hardware is water cooled?
post #34 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by speedxdesign View Post

they seriously need a big apple logo on top.

Actually these kinds of data centers prefer to remain as anonymous as possible for security reasons.

Time will tell.
post #35 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sporkupine View Post

I completely agree. Remember when they were called "thin clients" and we all hated them?

The best thing about thin clients was when the office network went down and we all got to go home early.
post #36 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ppietra View Post

Does anyone have a clue where are the power lines!?
Such a remote building, that needs so much power and no power lines visible!!?

I'm sure Steve took one look at the plans and ordered the power lines buried. He likes minimalistic design and above ground power lines would look cluttered around his shiny new building.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post

In the video, what are those two cylinder-like projections? The nuclear power station up the ways from me has similar cylinders! Heheheheh.

Really; what are they?

Like someone else said, my first thought was fuel for the backup power system, but they seem kind of big for that.
post #37 of 94
The large dirt area in the first video is the construction staging area. With this area completely vacant indicates that the building is very close to opening. The second video shows this area full of equipment and building materials. The white roof is called a "cool roof" for higher reflectivity and thus better energy conservation. What happened to the iWeb update?
post #38 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sporkupine View Post

I completely agree. Remember when they were called "thin clients" and we all hated them?

Back in my university days, there were thin clients all over the campus, which was pretty convenient, actually, especially since I didn't have my own laptop at the time. No matter what building I was in, I was within spitting distance of a terminal, which I could use to check e-mail, grades, chat, etc. Thin clients have their place, for sure.
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post #39 of 94
Could have used iMovies' "stabilization" option.
Love that red clay of NC.
post #40 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL Data Center!

love it. you win the interwebs

edit: they should add that into the taiwanese animation of steve jobs as darth vader: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tn-YesqzvNk
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