Exclusive: Apple's initial iCloud facility in Reno already ready to go online

Posted:
in iCloud edited January 2014
Apple's latest data center project near Reno, Nevada, was thought to only be in early planning stages, but an initial segment of the project is already complete and just days away from going online, AppleInsider has learned.

Apple Reno data center site


Other segments in this series have looked at Apple's commitment to building the world's greenest data centers, the company's jump start in construction at its Reno data center site, the massive scope of site preparation, the sophisticated water technology being installed and the futuristic data conduits that deliver iCloud's digital packets at the speed of light.
The new data center, located 15 minutes east of Reno at the emerging new Reno Technology Park, will be Apple's fourth major server farm the United States and the third project the company has built from scratch.

A rapid pace and massive scale of construction

In 2010, the company built a 500,000 square foot facility in Maiden, N.C., that went online in 2011, multiplying Apple's available data center square footage by nearly six over the initial 107,000-square-foot center it had acquired in 2006. Apple was reported to be planning a doubling of the Maiden site's vast structure.

Last October, Apple broke ground on a parallel project now under construction in Prineville, Ore. A 338,000-square-foot building (about twice the size of a Costco store) is now taking shape there; a second, equally large building is planned to join it, again doubling the company's existing iCloud footprint. There's also lots of surrounding land left for additional buildings on the 160 acre site.

The size and rapid construction pace of Apple's existing data center facilities makes it interesting that the company is now planning another large data center project relatively close to it: Reno is just 460 miles south of Prineville.

Apple hits the ground running in Reno

Even more surprising is the fact that Apple is moving forward on the parallel Reno site so rapidly. As the project site was still being finalized, the company asked for permission to begin work on an initial, aproximately 20,000-square-foot structure to get head start on the construction project.

Apple Reno data center site


Both ends of the long building (pictured above) have five vents supporting massive fans to pull air through the structure. Behind it, there appears to be a water chilling system (visible below from the side) similar to the one built in Maiden.

Apple Reno data center site


Pictured from the air (below, during final construction), Apple's initial building is just off the freeway but behind a hill, making the project site appear to be nothing but empty land to people driving past.

The relatively small initial facility appears similar to a 21,000-square-foot secondary "tactical" structure revealed in permits at the Maiden site, as well as a 10,000-square-foot building Apple rapidly built in Oregon as soon as it acquired the land there.

Plans for the similar structure in Maiden were described as involving "tight security measures," including "man trap" security doors that will require people to go through two doors to gain access, and an 8-foot-high chain-link security fence.

The initial Reno facility is surround by black lamp posts outfitted with cameras, and is staffed with security personnel, although has only basic fencing in place. The simple initial structure is now apparently finished and, according to a person familiar with Apple's plans, is set to go online in the coming weeks.

It is possible that Apple started work on the initial building to serve as a testing center to help in planning the full deployment, including optimization of the site's connection with local power, water and data networks.

The company has 345 acres of land surrounding the building, nearly twice the area of its Prineville project, allowing for vast expansion of both data center buildings and supporting structures, including solar fields.

As with its previous data center projects, Apple has taken a leading role in pushing the envelope in green design, with the Maiden facility being the largest data center to meet the strict rules of LEED Platinum construction.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,435member
    <div align="center"><div class="article-img"><img src="http://photos.appleinsidercdn.com/Apple.data.centers.032613.0.jpg" alt="Apple Reno data center site"></div></div>.

    Are those the cooling fans or just 10.3 Panther posters?
  • Reply 2 of 28
    technotechno Posts: 695member


    All wrong! It is nothing more than a Ginger Snap manufacturing facility.

  • Reply 3 of 28
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member


    Interesting that this story from The Verge hasn't been picked up by AI: http://www.theverge.com/2013/3/26/4148628/why-doesnt-icloud-just-work


     


    If Apple could fix the sync issues described therein, there could be a flood of 3rd party support for iCloud. Then imagine Apple not just leading the pack in cloud services but truly, truly leaving everyone else in the dust.

  • Reply 4 of 28
    I'm curious to know how Apple's data center's capacity is compared with Google's data center capacity because Youtube must really eat up a lot of storage. Does Apple have anything that would need to consume that much capacity? iTunes streaming shouldn't even come close to Youtube streaming. Apple could certainly afford to have more storage than Google, if necessary. Apple can also certainly afford to have the fastest and highest capacity servers right from the start.

    Hopefully, Apple is building a very robust storage and streaming infrastructure while being easily expandable in the near future. It just makes so much sense that Apple should get into the subscription content streaming business. I hear Hulu is up for grabs again and Apple should get into the bidding process and put some of its cash hoard to good use. I'm sure Apple could use Hulu to rival Netflix which seems to be quickly running away with subscription content market share.
  • Reply 5 of 28
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ankleskater View Post


    Interesting that this story from The Verge hasn't been picked up by AI: http://www.theverge.com/2013/3/26/4148628/why-doesnt-icloud-just-work


     


    If Apple could fix the sync issues described therein, there could be a flood of 3rd party support for iCloud. Then imagine Apple not just leading the pack in cloud services but truly, truly leaving everyone else in the dust.



    I'm using iA Writer app with iCloud syncing with no issue whatsoever. I'm sure there'll be improvement on Core Data in the future and only 4 people working on it doesn't give a confidence, but that article seems to look at it only from the negative angle. 

  • Reply 6 of 28
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member


    The "man-trap" is more than just two doors - it is a set of doors that only allow one door to be open at a time - or to put it another way, one door must be closed for the other to open. "man-trap" sounds more ominous than it is. Data centers I have been in use them for a couple of purposes - one is to control who has access - since you generally need either a badge or to be buzzed in by security (which is where the name comes from) but also to help environmentally it enforces what many double doors are designed for - to help isolate the environment outside from that inside. Hotels and office buildings often have revolving doors to separate environments while optimizing rather than restricting traffic flow. The effectiveness of this was readily apparent to me during my last trip to NYC in January - while waiting in the hotel lobby, as people used the revolving door I felt no effect - and when people used the regular doors - if only the inner or only the outer doors where open I barely felt any effect - but if someone was entering via the outer door at the same time as someone else was entering via the inner door - that is with both inner and outer doors open at the same time - an arctic blast swept through the lobby. 


     


    Situating the building so that it is not visible from the highway might have been an accident or coincidence or the result of building permits or simply a result of design optimization of the facility for its purpose - but I suspect at least in part that is was a deliberate decision to add some security through obscurity. or at the very least to reduce the chance that folks driving by might take random shots at the building either just because it is there or because they have some idea who owns it or what is there. And don't think that is so far fetched - I have worked with a customer who had to add steel plates inside their windows because people driving by on the highway a couple hundred yards away would shoot at the building - typically just after rate increases. 

  • Reply 7 of 28
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,435member
    I'm curious to know how Apple's data center's capacity is compared with Google's data center capacity because Youtube must really eat up a lot of storage. Does Apple have anything that would need to consume that much capacity? iTunes streaming shouldn't even come close to Youtube streaming. Apple could certainly afford to have more storage than Google, if necessary. Apple can also certainly afford to have the fastest and highest capacity servers right from the start.

    I think we cannot even compare them. Google not only indexes & caches 'the whole internet'; YouTube alone is humongous.


    2012:
    • 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. This was 48 hours just 3 months before.
    • Over 4 billion YouTube videos are viewed a day.
    • Over 4 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube.
    Hopefully, Apple is building a very robust storage and streaming infrastructure while being easily expandable in the near future. It just makes so much sense that Apple should get into the subscription content streaming business. I hear Hulu is up for grabs again and Apple should get into the bidding process and put some of its cash hoard to good use. I'm sure Apple could use Hulu to rival Netflix which seems to be quickly running away with subscription content market share.

    They usually buy companies for the employee talent, not simply because they want the product. I'm sure Apple is very capable to setup a video streaming service without any takeovers, they already have iTunes in place and could simply expand on that.
  • Reply 8 of 28
    zoffdinozoffdino Posts: 192member
    Apple data centers are highly concentrated in the US. My concern is how does it scale globally? The speed of the App Store is not great, but acceptable. Siri/dictation can definitely pick up some speed (hopefully done locally on the phone with occasional update). When I traveled to Asia, I noticed that the iTunes Store download speed are generally slower than in North America, despite being on super-fast Internet connection.
  • Reply 9 of 28
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    zoffdino wrote: »
    Apple data centers are highly concentrated in the US. My concern is how does it scale globally? The speed of the App Store is not great, but acceptable. Siri/dictation can definitely pick up some speed (hopefully done locally on the phone with occasional update). When I traveled to Asia, I noticed that the iTunes Store download speed are generally slower than in North America, despite being on super-fast Internet connection.

    This is my concern. I'd think a lot more smaller data centers would make more sense, except for security.
  • Reply 10 of 28
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ankleskater View Post


    Interesting that this story from The Verge hasn't been picked up by AI: http://www.theverge.com/2013/3/26/4148628/why-doesnt-icloud-just-work


     


    If Apple could fix the sync issues described therein, there could be a flood of 3rd party support for iCloud. Then imagine Apple not just leading the pack in cloud services but truly, truly leaving everyone else in the dust.



     


    That article is so biased though.  It goes on and on about the problems with "Core Data" syncing and uses it as a gigantic apology for developers who still haven't implemented iCloud support.  It's so much the apology piece that I wouldn't be surprised if a few "friend/developers" of the author practically actually goaded him into writing it.  


     


    At the same time they mention that: 


     


    - "Document Syncing" (as opposed to "Core Data syncing") works fine


    - Apple uses Document Syncing instead of Core Data syncing


    - most users are looking for Document Syncing.


    - Drop Box *only* does Document Syncing


    - most apps that could benefit from using the cloud use Document Syncing


     


    So, yeah, "Core Data" (database) syncing, which no one on earth has really got to work well ever, is still having problems, but that has virtually *nothing* to do with why developers always implement DropBox support, but balk at doing iCloud support.  


     


    The article is just a gigantic defence against something no one is being accused of, a complaint about a product that no one is asking the developers to use, and generally just a fake argument all round.  

  • Reply 11 of 28

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by techno View Post


    All wrong! It is nothing more than a Ginger Snap manufacturing facility.



    bzzt... apple is trying to corner the market on contraband twinkies.

  • Reply 12 of 28

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post



    I'm curious to know how Apple's data center's capacity is compared with Google's data center capacity because Youtube must really eat up a lot of storage. Does Apple have anything that would need to consume that much capacity? iTunes streaming shouldn't even come close to Youtube streaming. Apple could certainly afford to have more storage than Google, if necessary. Apple can also certainly afford to have the fastest and highest capacity servers right from the start.



    Hopefully, Apple is building a very robust storage and streaming infrastructure while being easily expandable in the near future. It just makes so much sense that Apple should get into the subscription content streaming business. I hear Hulu is up for grabs again and Apple should get into the bidding process and put some of its cash hoard to good use. I'm sure Apple could use Hulu to rival Netflix which seems to be quickly running away with subscription content market share.


    most of apple's content is in the CDN networks (as I watch my firewall traffic, akamai is a big content distributor).  So it's not so much as for storing/streaming, but for the little stuff (authing, syncing).   


     


    As for buying Hulu?  nah... it just wants hulu's contracted content owners to realize that Apple's end to end model is going to be a winner and they should license the content to Apple.  There is nothing at Hulu apple wants... they just want to get rid of all the 1st release exclusivity that Hulu has with the networks.


     


    Netflix... still is months from being a 'great service'  If I can't get 'the movie' I want, or watch last week's episode of Scandal, it's just another channel to surf for me, like AMC or IFC.  If I see something, I'll watch it, but only out of boredom.

  • Reply 13 of 28
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff View Post

    bzzt... apple is trying to corner the market on contraband twinkies.


     


    Since Hostess went under, aren't they all contraband now?

  • Reply 14 of 28
    techno wrote: »
    All wrong! It is nothing more than a Ginger Snap manufacturing facility.

    All wrong! This is where they keep the alien bodies from those saucer crashes.
  • Reply 15 of 28
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    All wrong! This is where they keep the alien bodies from those saucer crashes.

    So that's why Apple leads the tech world.
  • Reply 16 of 28
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff View Post


    Netflix... still is months from being a 'great service'  If I can't get 'the movie' I want, or watch last week's episode of Scandal, it's just another channel to surf for me, like AMC or IFC.  If I see something, I'll watch it, but only out of boredom.



    Great is all relative obviously.  I think it's great.  The fact I can put on disney movies, cartoons, educational shows, etc. for my kiddo all via a $99 Apple TV is pretty great.  Sure beats a player, extra cables, getting a disc, etc.  Now for me- I still prefer the Blu Rays... but some day the sound and video will be on par.

  • Reply 17 of 28
    macinthe408macinthe408 Posts: 1,050member
    So, will this mean that iCloud won't suck ass in the near future?
  • Reply 18 of 28
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,013member
    15 minutes to Reno ... Gene Pitney wasn't it? ;)
  • Reply 19 of 28
    rayzrayz Posts: 814member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post


    I'm using iA Writer app with iCloud syncing with no issue whatsoever. I'm sure there'll be improvement on Core Data in the future and only 4 people working on it doesn't give a confidence, but that article seems to look at it only from the negative angle. 



     


    "The problem is partly due to the fact that Apple only had four people leading the company’s work on Core Data as of last year, a source close to Apple has told me. The company has simply not expressed any desire to fix Core Data syncing."


     


    Yes, I usually stop reading when I read 'a source close to ______'

  • Reply 20 of 28
    Oddly that article firmed my resolve to add iCloud features to my app since it said that data file syncing works great. Frankly most use of core data by developers is just lazy programming. I should know. I used it because I was lazy and wanted to do a quick implementation based on some nice sample code from Apple. In the future I will phase it out its use unless I really am working with a database and not just a list of data that I can manage myself.

    Suggestion to those developers who "need" Core Data iCloud syncing: Sync the database as a simple file and do the merge yourself. That way there is no way that Apple can mess things up for you.
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