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New Video of Apple's Enormous iDataCenter 182

Posted by timothy
from the tiny-just-didn't-feel-right dept.
1sockchuck writes "A new aerial video provides a rare look at Apple's new data center in North Carolina, which is expected to begin operations as soon as this week. It reveals the scale of the facility, which at 500,000 square feet will be among the world's largest data centers. The video, shot by a North Carolina real estate agent, also shows additional site preparation work that could support rumors that Apple plans to build another huge data center at the site." This is what drone cameras are for.
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New Video of Apple's Enormous iDataCenter

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  • What will go in it? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:21PM (#34006146) Homepage Journal

    Will they load it up with xserve?
    I wonder if Apple is the biggest customer for Xserves?

    • Actually that would be a rather good question and at least an opportunity for Apple to gain more enterprise experience not to mention "eating one's own dog food".

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bsDaemon (87307)

        Maybe the located in North Carolina to get easy access to Red Hat? /ducks

        • Cheap TVA electricity.
          • by Pharmboy (216950) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @06:42PM (#34006978) Journal

            Cheap TVA electricity.

            Actually, they are located close to McGuire nuclear power plant [duke-energy.com] (owned by Duke Energy), and near 4 major hydroelectric dams on the Yadkin River that create High Rock Lake, Tuckertown, Badin Lake (Narrows) and Falls lake, which are managed/quazi-owned by Alcoa [alcoa.com]. Alcoa doesn't make aluminum here anymore, so they have power to sell, and usually do during peak time. There are also a number of coal and natural gas plants nearby. I live about 70 miles from the new data center, and was somewhat surprised that they put it in such a low density area, until I realized how much power capacity is nearby. TVA isn't really a factor in this part of the country, as I believe all the hydro power around here is privately owned.

            Electricity usage in NC is way down, due to all the textile and furniture manufacturing moving to China and India, plus all the aluminum manufacturing is now gone. Those industries were typically BIG consumers of electricity. My understanding is that all the power plants in this region are running well below their peak output, so we literally have more than we know what to do with here. I would imagine that electricity is damn cheap for Apple to buy in bulk, which is a major portion of their expenses.

            Also, it doesn't hurt that NC is located somewhat in the center of the eastern USA, and 2/3rds of the population lives east of the Mississippi river, so it is actually a good location, geographically. The rather new Dell plant near Winston-Salem was just shut down (moved to Mexico), and there has been rumors of Apple buying it for manufacturing as well. There are lots of good reasons that would make sense, since the state spent MILLIONS in new infrastructure to the plant just a few years ago, and the workforce around here is generally good with a manufacturing history, AND both UPS and FedEx have major hubs about 30 minutes away at GSO. Would love to see that happen, only because we need the jobs with over 10% unemployment here.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              The rather new Dell plant near Winston-Salem was just shut down (moved to Mexico), and there has been rumors of Apple buying it for manufacturing as well.

              As great as this would be, I'll believe it when I see it. I just can't imagine that an organization as big as Apple would be so forward thinking as recognizing that the cost of doing business overseas is often not realized immediately. Especially since those costs may never be realized by the people running the company -- a lot of the the price is paid

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by dakameleon (1126377)

                Especially since those costs may never be realized by the people running the company -- a lot of the the price is paid by people living in that area, e.g., look what happened to Flint, Michigan after GM closed its plant, almost overnight the crime-rate skyrocketed [wikipedia.org]. GM didn't have to pay for the social costs of that, the taxpayer is. But the taxpayer is also paying the price in greater carbon emissions, lower quality of life (at least for the unemployed), and loss of tax revenue, etc.

                It's called Externalities [wikipedia.org], and the negative externalities are what taxes are meant to compensate for, though imposing import tariffs to discourage off-shoring is considered bad form these days.

              • by Pharmboy (216950)

                I don't foresee Apple doing all their manufacturing in the USA, but perhaps similar to what Dell was doing: The "build your own" market. This applies only to computers, not their other devices, which will always be overseas. One of the weaknesses of Apple in the past has been being able to customize your computer system. While it is infinitely better now, you still need to be able to take the main components (made in China) and do the final assembly near your point of shipment. Having a facility in NC *

                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by antifoidulus (807088)
                  Most of their XServes and mac pros are actually assembled in the US. Not sure if it's due to the weight(those beasts can be quite heavy and thus really expensive to ship), export restrictions or what.
                  • by Pharmboy (216950)

                    With a lot of higher end products that have a good margin, a company is way more likely to build in the US or at least North America. The problem with building in the US isn't quality of employees or products, it is the overall cost. This is why cheap stuff with razor thin margins go overseas first, the stuff that you don't just sell 10,000 of them, but > 1 million. This is one of the reasons I am for lowering corporate taxes, to encourage more manufacturing, for at least mid and high end products.

                • by swb (14022)

                  The only problem with such an analysis is that if you rely on sub-assemblies coming from China, how is the East Coast of the US supposed to be an advantage?

                  At a minimum, it's a trip through the Panama Canal or trans-shipment via rail from the West Coast. I suppose going around the Cape in Africa would be an option, too, but that seems even further.

                  • by Pharmboy (216950)

                    Time on the water is cheap compared to time over land, calculating cost per mile. We deal in a lot of stuff in ocean containers, and it is the overland portion of the trip that is expensive. Once it is on a truck, you need one truck and one driver for one container, instead of one vessel and 20 crew for hundreds of containers. And not all the parts come from China. Flying specialized parts from China to NC isn't much different than to NC either, when you are talking about that kind of volume.

                • Hardware can come from anywhere, specially the consumer devices which are extremely price sensitive, but you can't/don't want to/ export consumer data.

                  Would you store all those credit card numbers and transaction records on foreign soil?

                  Would you store all of those apps, tunes, movies etc. on foreign soil?

                  Now imagine you live on foreign soil...

                  Look for Apple store roll-outs in other countries to be preceded by data warehouse expansion as Apple gets more and more involved with using the 'net for content dist

              • didn't have to pay for the social costs of that, the taxpayer is. But the taxpayer is also paying the price in greater carbon emissions, lower quality of life (at least for the unemployed), and loss of tax revenue, etc.

                Stop referring to all people as taxpayers. It's creepy.

    • by jcr (53032) <[jcr] [at] [mac.com]> on Sunday October 24, 2010 @06:04PM (#34006760) Journal

      Apple has always been the biggest customer for Xserve. Not sure what they're using now, but when the iTMS store was launched, all of the machines serving the store pages in iTunes were Xserves, with some combination of Sun and IBM systems to run the back-end order processing SAP services.

      -jcr

    • the only customer for Xserves?

      Let's face it... Apple has proved to best cost effective in the recent years, so they'll probably buy cheap dell hardware and assemble them on a Linux grid.
  • My god! (Score:3, Funny)

    by arcite (661011) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:21PM (#34006150)
    It's full of Apples.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    How can that be the apple datacenter !

    • by joh (27088) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:47PM (#34006378)

      Back in the day when Steve Jobs had been fired from Apple and was building his own company (NeXT) he had the interior of the factory in which NeXTStations were built re-painted three times -- until it was *just* the right shade of grey. And this is not a joke.

    • by DCstewieG (824956)

      Yeah it's just begging for a backlit Apple logo on the roof, lighting up the sky like the Luxor.

  • What OS will their servers run?

  • obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by arcite (661011) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:28PM (#34006210)
    Steve Jobs: [overheard on an iphone in a coffee shop somewhere in Cupertino] ...As you can see, my young apprentice, your friends have failed. Now witness the streaming power of this fully STACKED and OPERATIONAL data center!
  • by mbone (558574) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:34PM (#34006260)

    Large, but not that large. Most US telecoms hubs have several centers at the 500K SF level. Google has more than a dozen data centers with ~ 100,000 square feet each.

    With buildout costs ranging from ~ $ 1000 / SF to a rumored 3 times that for Google, this is probably a billion dollar investment for Apple.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pckl300 (1525891)

      ...this is probably a billion dollar investment for Apple.

      Is that why the 11-inch Macbook Air costs $1000?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bsDaemon (87307)

        It costs $1000 because they had to custom-design a lot of internal parts and do stuff to make everything fit. For instance, the flash memory is directly on the board rather than in a separate enclosure attached by a SATA cable. Also, the display on the 11" apparently has more pixels than the display on my 13" MBP. Other than the fact that it's tragically small and that I don't think I could realistically be able to work on anything smaller than my 13", it seems like a pretty nice machine, at least when c

        • "For instance, the flash memory is directly on the board rather than in a separate enclosure attached by a SATA cable."

          It cost less to put the FLASH on the motherboard, since in the latter case you incur the cost of cables, separate enclosure, and a daughterboard.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bsDaemon (87307)

            Well, say you're a commodity PC vendor. You buy motherboards from Asus, hard drives from Seagate, etc. Buying a flash SATA in an enclosure, especially if you're buying in bulk for your production, is totally doable and not going to be too expensive. Designing your own motherboard so that the flash is integrated into it (of course, making it entirely non-upgradable in a much more serious way than complaints about batteries) is going to cost money, etc. My point was that these aren't just off-the-shelf pa

            • "Well, say you're a commodity PC vendor. "

              Clearly the name of my company in your scenario is Orange Computer. ;-)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by turbidostato (878842)

          "It costs $1000 because they had to custom-design a lot of internal parts and do stuff to make everything fit."

          Nope. It costs $1000 because they know that not only their customers will pay for it but that their customers even *want* to pay for it (their marketing people has been working for long years in order for that to happen).

          Hint: you never base your price tag on your building costs but on what your customer is willing to pay.

          • by bsDaemon (87307)

            Well, not for all cases. You have to base your price point on what people are willing to pay where you can still make money. You have to pay the engineers designing custom wirewraps, buy the materials, etc. After that, you still need to make a profit, but not try and gouge too much, otherwise even Steve isn't going to be able to justify it.

            • "Well, not for all cases. You have to base your price point on what people are willing to pay where you can still make money."

              Not exactly. You just base your price tag on what people are willing to pay.

              If that happens to be below your production costs you either don't go into market (so there won't be a price point) or you revisit your engineering till the production costs go below people's price tag*1, so no, you don't base your price point on your production costs but you set your production costs as a f

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TooMuchToDo (882796)

      Which won't put a significant dent in their $51 billion dollar cash reserves.

  • How come they didn't build it in California? Hm.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by PPalmgren (1009823)

      Because my state legislature bent over and asked for apples two-inch dick. The tax incentives they gave for the damn thing are rediculous.

      • Well you'll benefit by all the jobs it creates, right?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by PPalmgren (1009823)

          Data centers don't really create jobs. Estimates are at like 100 tops.

          Yeah it gave the building contractors something to do, but it would have been better spent towards our shoddy roads.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by quacking duck (607555)

            It was Apple's after-tax money to spend as they wished, not the local, state, or federal governments'. Without a major building there, Apple couldn't care less about the roads in that area. Now that they have a presence, governments get money from taxing datacentre workers salaries, the property, and operations (power consumption, bandwidth, capital costs, etc), as well as the income from these building contractors.

            If major roads are that shoddy, the problem is with the government(s), and/or the people who

    • Didn't you see the movie? Half the entire west coast sinks into the sea in 2012....
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jcr (53032)

      Because 1) Apple's already got a massive data center here, and 2) it's a good idea to put redundant data centers on opposite sides of the country.

      -jcr

    • Distributed data centers are a very good thing for the following reasons:

      1. California doesn't have as much available power generation as the site in North Carolina
      2. Disaster Recovery operations can proceed at the new site for California data centers, and vice versa
      3. If they are to launch some type of streaming service, having a datacenter less than 1000 miles from 60% of the US population is probably a good idea

  • Some day all the processing power and storage in that place will fit on something you can hold in your hand. Let's hear from the /. futurist nerds why this will/will not be the case.

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      Some day all the processing power and storage in that place will fit on something you can hold in your hand.

      See? That wasn't so hard.

  • Is it just me... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anachragnome (1008495) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @05:29PM (#34006580)

    Is it just me, or does the idea of storing data on the equipment(property) of other people bother anyone else?

    One question about all of this keeps coming to mind. At what point does that data become theirs, and not mine?

    Until someone answers that question to MY satisfaction, I'll stick with my clunky, old HDs. At present, cloud-computing appears to me to be nothing more then a move to further monetize our own data by inserting a middleman between us and said data.

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      You just described hosting, which is pretty much what the web is based on. People have been doing this for a long time, it just sounds like Apple (and everyone else who is doing it, eg Google) are just making a more convenient way to access the sort of ability that nerds have had for a long time.

      As with any data, if you let it out of your control (ie, entrust it to someone else) then you are taking a risk. If you want to keep it more secure, store it locally.

    • Is it just me, or does the idea of storing data on the equipment(property) of other people bother anyone else?

      One question about all of this keeps coming to mind. At what point does that data become theirs, and not mine?

      Until someone answers that question to MY satisfaction, I'll stick with my clunky, old HDs. At present, cloud-computing appears to me to be nothing more then a move to further monetize our own data by inserting a middleman between us and said data.

      Reading the article it appears to be pure speculation that Apple is using the data center for cloud storage. I haven't heard of any Apple initiatives in the cloud at all . In fact, it's not a new datacenter but an expansion of an existing center. It might be that the datacenter is not even to store your data but their own. After all, Apple's iTunes itself stores and serves millions of songs, tens of thousands of movies, and thousands of TV shows, etc.. In the next 90 days, Apple will launch their Mac A

    • by ceeam (39911)

      Done properly - with proper encryption etc, it's not a concern at all.

      Well, there is a concern, namely legalization of it, but it's the same with the data on your HD. They - the law enforcement - (theoretically) can make you turn it on and check every file just about any time soon. TrueCrypt? You are forced to enter the password or face problems.

      > Disclaimer: I'm not a conspiracy theorist nut.

      Uhm... appropriate.

  • I'm trying to find it on Google maps but can't. Does anyone have coordinates for where this actually is?
    • It's not on the Google sats, it's too new.
      • So in other words, you don't know what the coordinates are. I get that the images that Google has are sometimes dated, but if the building is not there one might at least see some construction prep. Might even be something interesting there.
  • by darrylo (97569) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @05:44PM (#34006654)

    I'm sure they've thought of this, but I really hope that the river next to it doesn't flood ....

    (Rummages through FEMA's awful web site for flood maps) Well, that's interesting. Apple's probably OK, as the 1% flood line doesn't appear to cover their site. However, there's an interesting line on the map called, "limit of study", that appears to end before the site... Assuming that I have the right location, google maps is here [google.com], and here is FEMA's flood map [fema.gov] (note: FEMA's link was working earlier, but now appears to be broken -- I hope I got the link right).

    • I would imagine that they would think of this, and every other environmental concern before dropping $1,000,000,000 into it. But hey, stupider things have happened with much larger sums of money, usually at the hands of governmental authorities.

  • Apple sells hardware. All of this is non-revenue generating investment, it's just a way to consume profits.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by node 3 (115640)

      Apple sells hardware. All of this is non-revenue generating investment, it's just a way to consume profits.

      No, but it's a way to create future profits by making their hardware more appealing through cloud services the way the App Store has made iPhones more appealing to consumers.

      • Again Nothing to be proud of

        Why do you need a data center to have an app store?

        A truly smart solution would leverage the enormous unused CPU power of the client systems.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by nyctopterus (717502)

          I'm pretty sure Apple has noticed a problem that many other people have. If you have several devices (iPhone, iPad, iMac, lets say), and a large collection of data (documents, music, videos, etc.) keeping all this stuff in sync is a royal pain in the arse. It's also damn annoying having to choose what to put on you portable devices. As a hardware manufacturer that want to sell you a stack of devices, Apple has a huge interest in make the management of your data between these devices seamless. Apple's effort

        • Because you need a place to STORE the apps in your app store? Gonna "leverage the enormous unused [disk capacity] of the client systems" too? I'm sure no one around here would scream bloody murder about either of those schemes.

          "OMGAWD Apple is using my CPU without my permisson!!" - Random Slashbot

        • by mlts (1038732) *

          Apple would open themselves to a world of hurt by doing that. Using clients for P2P is verboten almost everywhere on the Internet. To boot, people would be complaining about the CPU usage, and the fact that they are paying Apple for the store, so why do they also have to pay in CPU and bandwidth as well (see the Blizzard flame threads around WoW patch days for examples of this.)

          On the other hand, A data center makes perfect sense, especially if it is used for serving applications. I wonder if Apple's app

  • I guess they don't put the same effort into their data centers as they do into their Apple stores, at least concerning the outside. And why did they build it so wide instead of up?

    • by rah1420 (234198)

      Most likely a combination of zoning and engineering.

      Floors above the 1st floor mean greater engineering for load bearing, etc. from my layman's perspective. Cheaper to just pour a slab, especially if you have the real estate for it.

  • can it play quake?

  • Mayday! Mayday! I think I'm flying into a mountain! Tell my wife I lo...

  • Why do I have this feeling that another company may use part of the storage at this data center in exchange for prominent icon placement by Apple on the Apple TV? I can see Netflix doing this very thing.

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