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Exclusive: First data center buildings up at Apple's Reno iCloud facility

post #1 of 70
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Just over a month after the initial structures began rising at Apple's iCloud data center site near Reno, Nev., two vast data center buildings now appear to be fully enclosed as work continues on the project.

Apple Reno iCloud site

Apple's Reno iCloud Data Center


Apple's facility, now under construction at the Reno Technology Park, is the company's fourth major U.S. server installation. It is designed to support users of Apple's iTunes, iBookstore, App Store and iCloud services.

These views of the site, taken from an Amtrak California Zephyr train headed from the San Francisco Bay Area to Chicago, Ill., reflect one reason why Apple chose the site: parallel to the first U.S. Intercontinental Railway built in the 1860s, America later built what would become Interstate 80, and along that right of way, multiple carriers have laid fibre optic data lines.



Readily available highway and rail capacity facilitated the development of a large industrial park just south of the RTP site, including multiple power plants that create more than enough local power.

That plentiful electricity, along with redundant data pipes, the dry climate, naturally occurring sources of clean water from underground aquifers, inexpensive land (with lots of sun to power a solar array), favorable construction costs and local tax incentives have made the Reno site Apple's largest land acquisition.

Apple Reno iCloud site

Apple's Reno iCloud Data Center in July


In early July, the site was just beginning to erect the framework of its first permanent, large new data centers (shown above from the highway). Today, just five weeks later, multiple vast structures are now enclosed (below, from the parallel railroad tracks; both views are from the southwest).

Apple Reno iCloud site

Apple's Reno iCloud Data Center today


From the other direction, the rapid pace of construction is also evident. Below are the first structures from July viewed from the southeast, and what the same site looks like today, and again from more of a distance.

Apple Reno iCloud site
Apple's Reno iCloud Data Center in July


Apple Reno iCloud site

Apple's Reno iCloud Data Center today (optical zoom)


Apple Reno iCloud site

Apple's Reno iCloud Data Center today (iPhone 5 HDR)


Apple's construction contractors have so far been laying the necessary groundwork for building one of the world's greenest data centers.

AppleInsider has previously detailed the massive scope of site preparation, the sophisticated water technology being installed and the site's high speed data conduits.

After the company's initial jump start in construction that created a 21,000-square-foot pilot test facility, the site didn't offer many obvious signs of new construction apart from ongoing dirt movement by a fleet of huge trucks.

$16 million of construction



In May, Apple filed permits outlining more than $16 million of contraction, including $4 million in general infrastructure improvements, a $4.6 million, 38,000 square foot administration building with a "loading dock and staging area," and over $6.8 million for two "data processing cluster buildings" described as totaling 50,570 square feet.

Two months ago month, the site completed the initial segments of the drainage work serving the large area that will be used to build permanent data center facilities.

Apple also added new air ducting to the initial structure, which formerly blew exhaust heat out window-like panes on each side of the building. The new exhaust hoods (shown below) first appeared in June.

Apple Reno data center site since June


Apple Reno data center site


Apple has 345 acres of land surrounding the new buildings, nearly twice the area of its Prineville, Oregon project also now under construction. The Reno site will allow for vast expansion of both data center buildings and supporting structures, including solar fields.
post #2 of 70
Sounds like they're serious about this cloud thing. /s/
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post #3 of 70
Is it just me or does this land parcel look like it's in a low spot terrain wise? Like may be prone to flooding during some freakish weather event?
post #4 of 70

It's a bigger surprise that Reno has an Apple retail store.

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post #5 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by WelshDog View Post

Is it just me or does this land parcel look like it's in a low spot terrain wise? Like may be prone to flooding during some freakish weather event?


Flooding from where? There's no river nearby, this is up in fairly high elevation and its not in any flood plain that I know of. I would think that Apple would know if they are building in a known flood zone ahead of time.
post #6 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

Flooding from where? There's no river nearby, this is up in fairly high elevation and its not in any flood plain that I know of. I would think that Apple would know if they are building in a known flood zone ahead of time.

The Truckee River is just the other side of I-80 about 500m away, but they are probably well prepared with proper drainage infrastructure.

http://goo.gl/maps/4U1oP

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post #7 of 70
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Originally Posted by drblank View Post

Flooding from where? There's no river nearby, this is up in fairly high elevation and its not in any flood plain that I know of. I would think that Apple would know if they are building in a known flood zone ahead of time.

I bet the civil engineering report is available through local government.
post #8 of 70
Apple is criticized for its iCloud endeavours though I have seen criticism of Google's efforts, too. However, with the money and effort that Apple is putting into the cloud centres it is building, I doubt we are seeing but shadows of Apple's cloud map. If Apple is building on dreams and promises and not a well laid out plan, then Tim has lost his way. This scenario I very much doubt. When Apple is ready, I suspect there will be joy in the Apple community (outside that domain, not so much).

At the moment these centres look to some as hollow promises. But it is not like Apple to work without a plan. Some hobbies Apple will let loose as a genius child to watch in play. More likely in this expensive expedition, when Apple is ready to unleash its plan of action, the world will stand in wonder. There are a few who will watch with understanding, whilst lying behind the Muses, Aghast and Defeat.

I wonder if part of Apple's evolving philosophy of secrecy and this long wait for its centres to wake has been the company's patience to devise a method for all its original works that thwarts the copycat's goal, once and for all. The results could be so astounding as to render a plague on the houses of the likes of Google and Samsung.

When I find time to rewrite the laws of Physics, there'll Finally be some changes made round here!

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When I find time to rewrite the laws of Physics, there'll Finally be some changes made round here!

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post #9 of 70
Reno should change it's handle from "The Biggest Little City in the World" to "Detroit of the West." Now that Indian casinos are everywhere, Downtown Reno is like a ghost town.
post #10 of 70

Crikey, mikhl, you sound like John the Baptist prophesying the coming of............!

post #11 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post


Flooding from where? There's no river nearby

 

lol.gif lol.gif lol.gif

 

With that out of my system, I'm sure Apple has planned for any relevant environmental issues before breaking ground.  They're no dummies.

post #12 of 70

Apologies for the misspelling of you pseud de plume.

post #13 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by WelshDog View Post

Is it just me or does this land parcel look like it's in a low spot terrain wise? Like may be prone to flooding during some freakish weather event?

Apple also build a 40 foot wide drainage moat around the entire facility it was in some of the first articles about this center.  I would seriously doubt with that big of a drainage moat this center will ever flood.

 

Look at the picts in this article of the Dam sized drainage moats around this data center and you will see what i mean.

 

  http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/07/08/exclusive-first-large-structures-going-up-at-apples-reno-icloud-data-center

post #14 of 70
For a single company, Apple has almost unlimited wealth. Apple could spend enough money on server farms more than many companies are worth. Netflix relies on Amazon's servers. Apple wouldn't have to rely on anyone's servers if they wanted it to be so. Apple could build a half-dozen server farms in Europe with the overseas cash hoard and the cost would barely scratch the surface. How can a company that can do so much more to strengthen its infrastructure than nearly any other tech company around be doomed?

Wall Street says Amazon's AWS cloud service is quite profitable for Amazon, even more so than their Kindle franchise. Why doesn't Apple just take a bundle of reserve cash and blow the doors off Amazon's cloud services? It seems to me Apple is just walking away from a buffet, leaving full trays of food on the table for rival companies to feast on.

If Lake Tahoe overflows, goodbye to Apple's Reno data center. Just kidding. There are a couple of rivers near Reno, but the yearly precipitation is next to zero.
post #15 of 70

Please. Those are photos of AREA 51.

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post #16 of 70
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Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post

Apple could spend enough money on server farms more than many companies are worth. Netflix relies on Amazon's servers. Apple wouldn't have to rely on anyone's servers if they wanted it to be so. 

 

Unless you control the complete network end to end, including the last mile, they are still depending on other companies. I would like to see Apple run fiber to urban/suburban customers like Google is beginning to do in selected cities.

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post #17 of 70
Is this the reason Digital Power Group says an iPhone uses as much energy as a refrigerator?
post #18 of 70
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Originally Posted by tzeshan View Post

Is this the reason Digital Power Group says an iPhone uses as much energy as a refrigerator?

I saw that on the evening news, What bunch of horse***t. An iPhone comes with a 5W charger. Even if you were using up the iPhone battery as fast as it could recharge it would take 200 hours to use 1 KW hour. So an iPhone is supposed to use 361 KW hours per year? Impossible. They are supposedly calculating the network, wifi, etc in their estimate but I think it is not possible to accurately assess that usage because the networks are used for so many other devices and many people like me barely use any data on their cell phone.

 

They might as well add in the electricity used to manufacture the device which is probably more than the amount of electricity that the iPhone itself uses in 3 years.

 

Just for kicks I did a calculation that a Tesla uses about 2,000 KW hours per year (based on 15,000 miles). Oh, I forgot to add in the amount of energy required for street lights, traffic signals, pot hole repair, policing, line striping and street cleaning.


Edited by mstone - 8/17/13 at 12:43pm

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post #19 of 70
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Originally Posted by tzeshan View Post

Is this the reason Digital Power Group says an iPhone uses as much energy as a refrigerator?

 

No, the reason is that no one gives a s**t about the Digital Power Group so they put some stuff out about the iPhone to get some web chat going. It's an industry standard practice.

post #20 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor David View Post


I bet the civil engineering report is available through local government.

It's not my land, it's not my Data Centers.  Apple is supposed to be told ahead of time whether or not if it's a flood zone.  That's required by law.  I think the area in question is at 4500 feet and I don't see any river near by.  Yeah, in other parts of Reno, but i think this one isn't.    A natural or even terrorists event can happen ANYWHERE. Why do you think Apple is putting up data centers in various parts of the country (world for that matter)?  I wonder what would happen to their air conditioning bills if they built these plants underground vs above ground.

post #21 of 70

The end of the world is coming soon.  What are they thinking?  Every one sell your houses and live n data centers.  Quick the mainframe will shield you from the icky stuff.

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post #22 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

 I don't see any river near by. 

Perhaps you should look again

 

 

Originally Posted by drblank View Post

 Why do you think Apple is putting up data centers in various parts of the country

 

Data centers are more efficient in rural areas because land is cheaper. They need lots of land for the solar arrays. Ideally you need to be near enough to a medium sized city for access to qualified employees and fuel for back up generators and close enough to Interstate highways as that is where the fiber conduits run. Dispersing your data centers in different regions provides better redundancy in case of a regional network outage. I would not be surprised if the Oregon data center and the Nevada data center are mirrored backups for one another. For that same reason I expect Apple to build another east coast data center to back up North Carolina.


Edited by mstone - 8/17/13 at 1:08pm

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post #23 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

 

Data centers are more efficient in rural areas because land is cheaper. They need lots of land for the solar arrays. Ideally you need to be near enough to a medium sized city for access to qualified employees and fuel for back up generators and close enough to Interstate highways as that is where the fiber paths run. Dispersing your data centers in different regions provides better redundancy in case of a regional network outage.

 

I already know all of this information, you aren't telling me anything I don't already know about.  But I was just wondering if anyone has looked into sticking them under ground because the ambient temperature is lower, it's well insulated. plus they would free up land to put the solar arrays on TOP of the Data Center.  It's just an idea for a potential idea for a Data Center.   Look at the land they are occupying for both the solar array and the data center. Imagine if they occupied the same area but the Data Center could be double the size as well as the Solar Array.  OR they could occupy less land to accomplish the same thing.  Sure it would be expensive excavate, but they might have some overall cost benefits.

 

Maybe they could design a ROUND muliti story data center and build a UNIFIED GEOTHERMAL CORE similar to the Mac Pro, but underground.   They just have to get air pumped in underneath on the bottom floor with some massive fan on top which could double as a power source.   /s


Edited by drblank - 8/17/13 at 1:18pm
post #24 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

I saw that on the evening news, What bunch of horse***t. An iPhone comes with a 5W charger. Even if you were using up the iPhone battery as fast as it could recharge it would take 200 hours to use 1 KW hour. So an iPhone is supposed to use 361 KW hours per year? Impossible. They are supposedly calculating the network, wifi, etc in their estimate but I think it is not possible to accurately assess that usage because the networks are used for so many other devices and many people like me barely use any data on their cell phone.

 

They might as well add in the electricity used to manufacture the device which is probably more than the amount of electricity that the iPhone itself uses in 3 years.

 

Just for kicks I did a calculation that a Tesla uses about 2,000 KW hours per year (based on 15,000 miles). Oh, I forgot to add in the amount of energy required for street lights, traffic signals, pot hole repair, policing, line striping and street cleaning.

 

 


Well, the evening news is probably full of HORSE***T on most things.  That's why I don't watch the evening news.

post #25 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

 

I already know all of this information, you aren't telling me anything I don't already know about.  But I was just wondering if anyone has looked into sticking them under ground because the ambient temperature is lower, it's well insulated. plus they would free up land to put the solar arrays on TOP of the Data Center.  It's just an idea for a potential idea for a Data Center.   Look at the land they are occupying for both the solar array and the data center. Imagine if they occupied the same area but the Data Center could be double the size as well as the Solar Array.  OR they could occupy less land to accomplish the same thing.  Sure it would be expensive excavate, but they might have some overall cost benefits.

Unlikely. All the heat that is being generated is from the servers not the sun. The roof is already reflective and the insulated. Plus, during winter in Nevada you can use free air to cool the servers. You would have to excavate down to 20-30m before accessing cooler soil temperatures in 12° C range which ironically is also the average air temperature for Reno. If you are just trying to save space you could design a building with solar arrays on the roof however generally speaking you need much more area for the solar panels than the data center they can power.

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post #26 of 70
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Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Unlikely. All the heat that is being generated is from the servers not the sun. The roof is already reflective and the insulated. Plus, during winter in Nevada you can use free air to cool the servers. You would have to excavate down to 20-30m before accessing cooler soil temperatures in 12° C range which ironically is also the average air temperature for Reno. If you are just trying to save space you could design a building with solar arrays on the roof however generally speaking you need much more area for the solar panels than the data center they can power.

that's in Reno, but that's not the same in all of the other locations. Yeah, I know they should consider putting solar arrays on top of the building as much as possible. I don't know why they don't do that.

post #27 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by WelshDog View Post

Is it just me or does this land parcel look like it's in a low spot terrain wise? Like may be prone to flooding during some freakish weather event?

 

Nah, it's actually on a mountain.

post #28 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

that's in Reno, but that's not the same in all of the other locations. Yeah, I know they should consider putting solar arrays on top of the building as much as possible. I don't know why they don't do that.

They are less expensive on the ground. The reinforced structural design for the building would cost more than the land, has less accessibility for maintenance and the roof is not a large enough area for the number of panels required, causing them to have some on the ground anyway. Two different systems is more expensive. It is just much easier to have all the panels identical and in the same location, especially the new single axis tracking systems.

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post #29 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post


There's no river nearby
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

I don't see any river near by.

 

I color coded the building site and the river for you.  1smile.gif

 

post #30 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by DroidFTW View Post

 

I color coded the building site and the river for you.  1smile.gif

 

They can also divert any problems with the river by blowing up sections on the opposite side to divert water flow. 

post #31 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

They are less expensive on the ground. The reinforced structural design for the building would cost more than the land, has less accessibility for maintenance and the roof is not a large enough area for the number of panels required, causing them to have some on the ground anyway. Two different systems is more expensive. It is just much easier to have all the panels identical and in the same location, especially the new single axis tracking systems.

I just for grins looked up underground data centers and apparently, there are some being built by others.  Iron Mountain is one...http://www.networkcomputing.com/next-generation-data-center/news/storage/iron-mountain-opens-underground-data-cen/240154866

 

 

For those that don't know.  Iron Mountain was sold to Automony, which was sold to HP.  So, I"m sure it's a big HP shop.  Yeah, when you run out of customers, buy them, then they won't switch.

post #32 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

I just for grins looked up underground data centers and apparently, there are some being built by others.  Iron Mountain is one...http://www.networkcomputing.com/next-generation-data-center/news/storage/iron-mountain-opens-underground-data-cen/240154866

 

Looks like a unique situation since they built it inside of a former limestone mine. The idea was probably for physical security from attack since they have a lot of government customers. It is unlikely built in the mine to save on cooling costs or to allow for solar arrays on top.

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post #33 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Looks like a unique situation since they built it inside of a former limestone mine. The idea was probably for physical security from attack since they have a lot of government customers. It is unlikely built in the mine to save on cooling costs or to allow for solar arrays on top.

Yeah, the article isn't real specific.

post #34 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

They are less expensive on the ground. The reinforced structural design for the building would cost more than the land, has less accessibility for maintenance and the roof is not a large enough area for the number of panels required, causing them to have some on the ground anyway. Two different systems is more expensive. It is just much easier to have all the panels identical and in the same location, especially the new single axis tracking systems.

There is also a large ISP in Sweden that's built one underground..

 

http://hothardware.com/News/Swedens-UltraModern-Underground-Data-Center/

post #35 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

They are less expensive on the ground. The reinforced structural design for the building would cost more than the land, has less accessibility for maintenance and the roof is not a large enough area for the number of panels required, causing them to have some on the ground anyway. Two different systems is more expensive. It is just much easier to have all the panels identical and in the same location, especially the new single axis tracking systems.

There is also a large ISP in Sweden that's built one underground..

 

http://hothardware.com/News/Swedens-UltraModern-Underground-Data-Center/

Please stop. Again they did not excavate it they repurposed a former nuclear bunker for security reasons not for cooling or solar panel purposes. Apple is not spending any unnecessary money to build theirs underground. Look at the construction materials they are using, sheet metal walls, etc. These are not even class A concrete buildings. Clearly they are not spending big bucks on the building structure.

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post #36 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

I saw that on the evening news, What bunch of horse***t. An iPhone comes with a 5W charger. Even if you were using up the iPhone battery as fast as it could recharge it would take 200 hours to use 1 KW hour. So an iPhone is supposed to use 361 KW hours per year? Impossible. They are supposedly calculating the network, wifi, etc in their estimate but I think it is not possible to accurately assess that usage because the networks are used for so many other devices and many people like me barely use any data on their cell phone.

 

They might as well add in the electricity used to manufacture the device which is probably more than the amount of electricity that the iPhone itself uses in 3 years.

 

Just for kicks I did a calculation that a Tesla uses about 2,000 KW hours per year (based on 15,000 miles). Oh, I forgot to add in the amount of energy required for street lights, traffic signals, pot hole repair, policing, line striping and street cleaning.


It is possible to give an estimate following DPG logic.  But I think their estimate is orders of magnitude too large.  Here is my estimate.  Say you have an AT&T 3GB plan.  Each month you use 3GB of cellular data.  How much time does various servers take to deliver the 3GB to your iPhone?  The speed of the LTE varies.  25 25Mb/s is reasonable.  3GB will take 960 seconds or 16 minutes. How much power does a computer use in 16 minutes?  Of course the 3GB may require the work of several computers to complete.  Let's say four computers.  So each month your 3GB requires one computer to run one hour.  This energy is actually quite small than what DPG estimated. 

post #37 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by tzeshan View Post

Quote:
So each month your 3GB requires one computer to run one hour. 

The computer is running 24/7 anyway. By your logic each server can only service 720 iPhones a month? 

 

I have over 3000 simultaneous connections on a 1U linux server often pushing several hundred GBs per day.

 

I don't know how you can calculate all the power being used by servers, routers, switches, wifi access points...but only for iPhones, all other devices excluded.

 

No way.

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post #38 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

The computer is running 24/7 anyway. By your logic each server can only service 720 iPhones a month? 

 

I have over 3000 simultaneous connections on a 1U linux server often pushing several hundred GBs per day.

 

I don't know how you can calculate all the power being used by servers, routers, switches, wifi access points...but only for iPhones, all other devices excluded.

 

No way.


My estimate is a high estimate.  My point is even with my estimate, the iPhone can not use the same power as a refrigerator.  My estimate provide a workable way to calculate the power usage of an iPhone. 

post #39 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Please stop. Again they did not excavate it they repurposed a former nuclear bunker for security reasons not for cooling or solar panel purposes. Apple is not spending any unnecessary money to build theirs underground. Look at the construction materials they are using, sheet metal walls, etc. These are not even class A concrete buildings. Clearly they are not spending big bucks on the building structure.

 

Exactly. It costs a lot of money to put things underground. And as for cooling, the ground itself is not enough to cool the servers. They would need to extend cooling pipes are out into the surrounding area in order to dissipate the heat. A server farm generates several orders of magnitude of heat for a given area than other structures would and can't simply rely on passive cooling (like the surrounding ground).

post #40 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post

For a single company, Apple has almost unlimited wealth. Apple could spend enough money on server farms more than many companies are worth. Netflix relies on Amazon's servers. Apple wouldn't have to rely on anyone's servers if they wanted it to be so. Apple could build a half-dozen server farms in Europe with the overseas cash hoard and the cost would barely scratch the surface. How can a company that can do so much more to strengthen its infrastructure than nearly any other tech company around be doomed?

Wall Street says Amazon's AWS cloud service is quite profitable for Amazon, even more so than their Kindle franchise. Why doesn't Apple just take a bundle of reserve cash and blow the doors off Amazon's cloud services? It seems to me Apple is just walking away from a buffet, leaving full trays of food on the table for rival companies to feast on.

If Lake Tahoe overflows, goodbye to Apple's Reno data center. Just kidding. There are a couple of rivers near Reno, but the yearly precipitation is next to zero.

 

Will you just your pie hole for once. It's getting old.

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