or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › NBC's 'Today' offers rare look inside Apple's iCloud data center in feature on environment
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

NBC's 'Today' offers rare look inside Apple's iCloud data center in feature on environment

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
During Thursday's edition of NBC News' Today, Apple's push for environmental friendliness was highlighted in a special segment called "A new kind of Apple farm," with a special focus on the company's Maiden, N.C. data center and accompanying solar array.


Source: Today


In a brief news package for Today, NBC chief environmental correspondent Anne Thompson gave a rundown of Apple's green initiatives, including the company's huge solar panel installation at its iCloud data center.

"All the cool convenience of your smartphones and tablets come with a hidden price -- power," Thomson said on location in Maiden. "But downloading apps and information in the cloud no longer means polluting the air."

Strolling through the huge solar panel farm, the reporter interviewed Apple Vice President of Environmental Initiatives Lisa Jackson. The former EPA administrator explained that with clean energy, like the nation's largest end user-owned solar farm, Apple is able to support a growing number of connected devices while at the same time shrinking its carbon footprint.

"We think this is an opportunity for us and for our sector to leave it better than we find it, to actually help people convert to cleaner energy without even knowing they're doing it," Jackson said, echoing statements made earlier this week by Apple CEO Tim Cook.

The interview offered a rare peek inside inside Apple's Maiden data center, which houses servers and telecommunications equipment responsible for iCloud, Siri and other online assets. Jackson said a good chunk of the energy created by the on-site solar farm and biogas generators go toward cooling the machines.



Thomson noted that while other tech companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo use clean energy at their respective data centers, only Apple's is using 100 percent renewable power.

Apple has been on an eco-friendly tear this week, publicizing its environmental initiatives with the launch of the "Better" campaign. Along with a revamped environmental responsibility webpage, the company announced a new recycling initiative and touted advancements in its clean energy programs.
post #2 of 38
Quote:
natural gas generators

That should be "biogas" and not "natural gas".
post #3 of 38
I was going to make some comment pondering Scamsung's green foot print or lack thereof, then realized Apple still rely heavily on China for production. I wonder if Tim plans any moves to put pressure on 'greening up' their Chinese production sub-contracter's facilities or if the plan is to move more and more production to the US over the next few years.
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
Reply
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
Reply
post #4 of 38

Interesting that they're running their data centers at 103°F. I seem to recall Google runs their cold isles at 80°F, and that they arrived at that temperature through empirical guidance. I wonder how Apple can run theirs 23 degrees warmer without suffering significant hardware failure.

post #5 of 38
This is something Amazon, Google, Samsung, DOJ ...et al should copy
post #6 of 38
Originally Posted by jsewell View Post
Interesting that they're running their data centers at 103°F. I seem to recall Google runs their cold isles at 80°F, and that they arrived at that temperature through empirical guidance. I wonder how Apple can run theirs 23 degrees warmer without suffering significant hardware failure.

 

You’re surprised to see that Apple has put more effort into their projects than Google?

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply
post #7 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

You’re surprised to see that Apple has put more effort into their projects than Google?

I made no assertion about effort. Google arrived at an optimal temperature by disregarding conventional wisdom regarding electronics durability and conducting experiments. They determined that 80°F struck the right balance between hardware failure rates vs. cooling costs. The fact that Apple's data center is significantly warmer makes me wonder what they're doing differently. That's all.

post #8 of 38
Originally Posted by jsewell View Post
I made no assertion about effort.

 

You’re right. I apologize for the presumption.

 
The fact that Apple's data center is significantly warmer makes me wonder what they're doing differently. That's all.

 

Here’s a thought experiment: At what temperature could Apple’s farms run would they were still full of Xserve and Xserve RAID? 

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply
post #9 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsewell View Post

I made no assertion about effort.

You made an assertion about which data center was cooler. 1smile.gif

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #10 of 38

I sometimes trade some solar stocks, like FSLR, SCTY etc., and I'm just wondering who built Apple's solar system. Does anybody know?

 

Did Apple do it themselves, or was it contracted out?

post #11 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsewell View Post
 

Interesting that they're running their data centers at 103°F. I seem to recall Google runs their cold isles at 80°F, and that they arrived at that temperature through empirical guidance.

 

 

er.. 'empirical guidance' could be shown to be that Apple are, and therefore can, run at 103°F.

post #12 of 38
It doesn't matter if the equipment runs hotter and breaks - the have AppleCare!
post #13 of 38
This report is stunningly positive towards Apple- not something I expect from mainstream news.
post #14 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

I sometimes trade some solar stocks, like FSLR, SCTY etc., and I'm just wondering who built Apple's solar system. Does anybody know?

Did Apple do it themselves, or was it contracted out?

SPWR did the system in North Carolina. I would know; I sold their stock at $3 and change...it's now up beyond $30. Doh!!!!
post #15 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by cuencap View Post


SPWR did the system in North Carolina. I would know; I sold their stock at $3 and change...it's now up beyond $30. Doh!!!!

 

That's good to know, thanks for the info.

 

And I know how you feel about getting out way too early on a stock. I wouldn't be lying if I said that I've made that mistake more than a few times myself.

post #16 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

This report is stunningly positive towards Apple- not something I expect from mainstream news.

I guarantee at least one person in the newsroom uses an iPhone.

Maybe even two.

1smile.gif

(I know owning Apple products shouldn't affect their journalistic integrity... I was just being silly)
post #17 of 38
1) Lots of positive news for Apple this week. I suspect even @Constable Odo is very pleased.

2) I paused the video on the rack of routers to try to get a model number on them. Nothing, not even a brand. Could be all built-in house which is a reasonable assumption for such a massive DC, much less several massive DCs.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #18 of 38
Green energy? What is the 'carbon cost' for the land covered up by the solar panels?
What was the 'carbon cost' of the workers who traveled to the site to install it?
What was the 'carbon cost' of the workers who traveled to make the panels?
What was the 'carbon cost' of the workers who traveled to get the raw materials for the panels?
What was the 'carbon cost' of the machines that got the raw materials for the panels?
What was the 'carbon cost' of the workers who travel to maintain the farm?
When you add up all the 'carbon costs' for the whole support structure of society that still travel in gas guzzling cars and use gas guzzling truck and mining shovels to make these 'green energy' initiatives, how green is it really?

Why doesn't the data facility have solar panels on that huge roof?
post #19 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsewell View Post

Interesting that they're running their data centers at 103°F. I seem to recall Google runs their cold isles at 80°F, and that they arrived at that temperature through empirical guidance. I wonder how Apple can run theirs 23 degrees warmer without suffering significant hardware failure.

The ambient temperature can be higher if you've designed your hardware to allow the cooling air to easily get to the temperature-generating components. Essentially lower the thermal resistance...
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
Reply
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
Reply
post #20 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsewell View Post
 

I made no assertion about effort. Google arrived at an optimal temperature by disregarding conventional wisdom regarding electronics durability and conducting experiments. They determined that 80°F struck the right balance between hardware failure rates vs. cooling costs. The fact that Apple's data center is significantly warmer makes me wonder what they're doing differently. That's all.

 

The trade-offs of introducing cooling to the environment adds a far heavier footprint to the cost of power at no measurable gain, when servers running at 103 degrees Fahrenheit vs. 83 degrees Fahrenheit is point less considering the systems are rated running, at full throttle, with temperatures far higher. In short, they've most likely tested the cost of power curve against the life span of a server and found no measured improvement of bringing down the temperature another 20 degrees, internally. The convective heat transfer systems that vent will also be different, depending on the design of their HVAC solutions and proper insulation.

post #21 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElectroTech View Post


Why doesn't the data facility have solar panels on that huge roof?

If the solar panels were on the roof they would be subject to higher wind gusts (remember NC is in hurricane country). Because of "ground effect" the panels mounted near the terrain will see far less air movement and be easier to service.
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
Reply
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
Reply
post #22 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

The ambient temperature can be higher if you've designed your hardware to allow the cooling air to easily get to the temperature-generating components. Essentially lower the thermal resistance...

With that setup I'd imagine the temp inside the chassis isn't much hotter than outside. I had never thought of it before but in a clean, protected environment there is no reason for all those extra plastic pieces to be in the way.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #23 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElectroTech View Post

Green energy? What is the 'carbon cost' for the land covered up by the solar panels?
What was the 'carbon cost' of the workers who traveled to the site to install it?
What was the 'carbon cost' of the workers who traveled to make the panels?
What was the 'carbon cost' of the workers who traveled to get the raw materials for the panels?
What was the 'carbon cost' of the machines that got the raw materials for the panels?
What was the 'carbon cost' of the workers who travel to maintain the farm?
When you add up all the 'carbon costs' for the whole support structure of society that still travel in gas guzzling cars and use gas guzzling truck and mining shovels to make these 'green energy' initiatives, how green is it really?

Nearly all the carbon costs you mention are one-time costs. The savings are returned over years of use and quickly outweigh one-time costs. On an installation the size of Apple's the one time costs are actually held pretty low per-panel due to the scale of the project. Apple likely has a pay-back date that once passed, puts the whole site in a positive energy state. I have not heard when that might be...or if it already is energy positive.
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
Reply
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
Reply
post #24 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

With that setup I'd imagine the temp inside the chassis isn't much hotter than outside. I had never thought of it before but in a clean, protected environment there is no reason for all those extra plastic pieces to be in the way.

So true. I once had to design a transmitter to be physically small but dissipate thousands of BTUs of heat without using a fan AND being operated in 300F ambient temperature. I used the "chimney effect" similar to what Apple used on the new Mac Pro.

I imagine Apple is using fans in the server stacks, but if they had the hardware designed to deliver the air with little turbulence to the hot spots then you can strip away a lot of heat very efficiently. The fan designs in the newer iMacs are good examples of excellent cooling with slow moving fan speed. The fan design of the initial Surface Pro was a good example of "brute force" cooling; energy cost was not a design goal. Essentially if you used the Surface Pro long enough some oven mittens might be necessary.
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
Reply
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
Reply
post #25 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElectroTech View Post

Green energy? What is the 'carbon cost' for the land covered up by the solar panels?
What was the 'carbon cost' of the workers who traveled to the site to install it?
What was the 'carbon cost' of the workers who traveled to make the panels?
What was the 'carbon cost' of the workers who traveled to get the raw materials for the panels?
What was the 'carbon cost' of the machines that got the raw materials for the panels?
What was the 'carbon cost' of the workers who travel to maintain the farm?
When you add up all the 'carbon costs' for the whole support structure of society that still travel in gas guzzling cars and use gas guzzling truck and mining shovels to make these 'green energy' initiatives, how green is it really?

Why doesn't the data facility have solar panels on that huge roof?

 

Maybe they should have just hooked into the local coal powered grid.

Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
Reply
Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
Reply
post #26 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

This report is stunningly positive towards Apple- not something I expect from mainstream news.

I agree. Bad news about Apple must sell easier then good news.

Most reporters favor MacBooks and iPads when they are out there gathering the news. I remember seeing video of the selected reporters who were invited to the Microsoft Surface preview and the number of glowing Apple logos in the crowd was impressive. If I had been Uncle Fester looking out at the sea of Apple Logos I would have felt ill...

So, I'm suspecting that the negative news about Apple is done by the drones in their offices pouring over news collected in the field (by Apple product users) and putting on their own spin to support the eye-catching headline they already came up with.
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
Reply
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
Reply
post #27 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phone-UI-Guy View Post



That should be "biogas" and not "natural gas".

The Data Center is close enough to Washington DC that the natural gas IS biogas. jest say'n... 1wink.gif
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
Reply
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
Reply
post #28 of 38

These look like HP ProLiant DL360 Generation 6 servers. The thick black cable looks like Infiniband.

 

 


Edited by brianwells - 4/25/14 at 4:13am
post #29 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsewell View Post
 

Interesting that they're running their data centers at 103°F. I seem to recall Google runs their cold isles at 80°F, and that they arrived at that temperature through empirical guidance. I wonder how Apple can run theirs 23 degrees warmer without suffering significant hardware failure.

From that video it appears that Apple is doing Hot Aisle Containment instead of cold. That would mean that the row they are walking down, since you see video of the backs of the servers, is the hot aisle. That is normal for a hot aisle to be that warm where the cold air on the other side of the servers would be around 70-80 degrees.

post #30 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

The fan design of the initial Surface Pro was a good example of "brute force" cooling; energy cost was not a design goal. Essentially if you used the Surface Pro long enough some oven mittens might be necessary.

I saw one at Starbucks yesterday. The user wasn't holding it because it's not a tablet, it's a tiny laptop with a snap-on keyboard. It just sat propped up on its kickstand displaying the Windows 8 desktop.

In contrast, the people with iPads were holding theirs.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #31 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacOSR View Post
 

From that video it appears that Apple is doing Hot Aisle Containment instead of cold. That would mean that the row they are walking down, since you see video of the backs of the servers, is the hot aisle. That is normal for a hot aisle to be that warm where the cold air on the other side of the servers would be around 70-80 degrees.

You're absolutely right. When I thought again about what I had seen, I reached the same conclusion.

post #32 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnalogJack View Post


er.. 'empirical guidance' could be shown to be that Apple are, and therefore can, run at 103°F.

apple is probably using cool (pun intended) technology such as FLIR and the simple fact that they know the temperature of every cpu in the data center.

also i suppose that they use water cooling, or perhaps they are using custom cpu's designed for 103F cold isles...

Doubling a CPU's speed quadruples the power consumption, so perhaps they run the CPU's slower to compensate for the 103 degree high cold isles... ?

BTW, just guessing... (but FLIR equipment in regards to Data Center cooling issues is a cool idea.)
post #33 of 38
You know, I genuinely wonder what kinds if computers that they have running there. The Xserve is gone, so maybe it's just a ton of Hackintoshes.
15" 2.3 GHz i7, 8 GB RAM, Unibody Macbook Pro

iPhone 5 (Slate, 64 GB) [au by KDDI, Japan] (I'm going Docomo with the iPhone 6!)
iPad Air (Wifi, 32 GB)
Reply
15" 2.3 GHz i7, 8 GB RAM, Unibody Macbook Pro

iPhone 5 (Slate, 64 GB) [au by KDDI, Japan] (I'm going Docomo with the iPhone 6!)
iPad Air (Wifi, 32 GB)
Reply
post #34 of 38

Of all the morning shows, why Today?  They're such a bunch of douchebags.  

 

Matt Lauer's response and contribution to this piece is how 'cold' it is in the studio.  He's King Douchebag!  

 

And what's up with the crappy video quality. Those old farts running NBC haven't clued into the fact that HD is, and has been, the default resolution for the past 10 years.  On top of that NBC is owned by Comcast.  What gives?  

 

Oh right, Comcast hates any kind of web streaming or video.  They pine for the old days of 1993 when downloads crawled along and cable was King.  They're actively waging war against net neutrality in an effort to 'double-dip' on video streaming. You pay for the service, and now they want the streamer to also pay for the service.  In essence, they're a bunch of douchebags too!  Their cable boxes suck down 300 Watts/hr with no 'real' turn-off switch.  They contribute 5 million tons of CO2 a year to the atmosphere.  Now they're reporting on how Apple does it better than anyone else.  The Romans had Nero, we have Comcast.  

post #35 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


With that setup I'd imagine the temp inside the chassis isn't much hotter than outside. I had never thought of it before but in a clean, protected environment there is no reason for all those extra plastic pieces to be in the way.

The issue is not the temperature of the ambient air but the temperature of the heat generating components. The first step is using heat sinks to quickly keep the component temperatures low. This requires strong and solid heat sink connections to the temperature generating components. The next step is to cool the heat sinks. Air or liquid or both might be used to lower the heat sink temperatures. Certainly the components themselves could remain far cooler than the ambient air.

post #36 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by brianwells View Post
 

These look like HP ProLiant DL360 Generation 6 servers. The thick black cable looks like Infiniband.

 

 

 

Maybe it's Quid pro quo:

 

http://appleinsider.com/articles/11/11/23/hps_chairman_using_macbook_air_may_detail_webos_plans_next_week

 

Interesting to see all the snide "calling out" comments in that article compared to the defense of Apple when it's the other way around.

 

It's a good thing that most of the anti-Apple media haven't caught on to this, or they would be having another feeding frenzy.

 

How much did the HP Chairman pay for that Macbook Air, compared to how much Apple is paying to set up and maintain all those non-Apple, non-OS X servers in their data centers?


Edited by Haggar - 4/25/14 at 4:34pm
post #37 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Here’s a thought experiment: At what temperature could Apple’s farms run would they were still full of Xserve and Xserve RAID? 

Here's a better one...How much energy will Apple save in their data centers when they switch over to Apple ARM-based CPUs?

post #38 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

The trade-offs of introducing cooling to the environment adds a far heavier footprint to the cost of power at no measurable gain, when servers running at 103 degrees Fahrenheit vs. 83 degrees Fahrenheit is point less considering the systems are rated running, at full throttle, with temperatures far higher. In short, they've most likely tested the cost of power curve against the life span of a server and found no measured improvement of bringing down the temperature another 20 degrees, internally. The convective heat transfer systems that vent will also be different, depending on the design of their HVAC solutions and proper insulation.

Apple could take advantage of a new Google openly shared and published method of using a neural network to predict (with upwards of 99.6% accuracy) and manage data center power needs including optimized cooling. I'd actually be very surprised if they don't do something with it going forward. It only needs a single server to control it.

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2014/05/28/google-using-machine-learning-boost-data-center-efficiency/
http://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en/us/about/datacenters/efficiency/internal/assets/machine-learning-applicationsfor-datacenter-optimization-finalv2.pdf
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Discussion
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › NBC's 'Today' offers rare look inside Apple's iCloud data center in feature on environment