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Apple Plans 'High-Tech Manufacturing' of Data-Center Gear in Arizona (businessinsider.com) 103

An anonymous reader shares a Business Insider report: Apple is seeking permission to conduct "high-tech manufacturing" and to build data-center server gear in a Mesa, Arizona, facility, according to a notice published Monday by the US federal government. A notification published in the Federal Register on Monday said Apple was looking for approval from the Foreign-Trade Zones Board to produce "finished products" in a special zone that exempts it from customs duty payments. "Apple Inc has repurposed the site as a global data command center that will conduct high-tech manufacturing of finished data center cabinets for other data centers," according to a document filed by Mesa on behalf of Apple in June and made public Monday. [...] The Arizona effort would mark a rare instance of a US tech company manufacturing and assembling a finished product domestically, where labor costs are higher. Apple's effort appears limited to equipment for its internal operations, however, rather than for a mass-market consumer product.
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Apple Plans 'High-Tech Manufacturing' of Data-Center Gear in Arizona

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  • Ha HA! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Trump Wins Again!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Trump wins big jobs for robots; Apple legally dodges stiff import duty.

      Who's winning here?

      Looks to me like it isn't the American People.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Coming in 3..2..1.. Robots are people too.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_personhood [wikipedia.org]
      • Re:Ha HA! (Score:5, Informative)

        by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @06:05PM (#53637493)

        Apple legally dodges stiff import duty.

        1. The import duties are not "stiff". They are only a few percent.
        2. Apple is not "dodging" them. The import duties would still apply for any imported components if the final product is consumed domestically. But no duties would be paid if the final product is exported ... but without the waiver, Apple would be entitled to a refund on those duties anyway, so the net result is just simplifying the paperwork.

        Who's winning here? Looks to me like it isn't the American People.

        A modest number of jobs will be created. Unnecessary bureaucratic overhead will be eliminated. How is that not a win?

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          While it's nice, it's not really "manufacturing"... Assembly perhaps.

          Tesla ships nearly complete cars to Europe for final assembly to avoid import duties. The cars aren't really made in Europe, the vast majority of the work is done in the US. Similarly, it sounds like Apple is just assembling some parts most likely manufactured in China, and knowing Apple it's probably some kind of tax dodge.

          This is probably the best you can hope for from Trump's efforts. Not real manufacturing in the US - the supply chains

  • by Major Blud ( 789630 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @03:49PM (#53636493) Homepage

    "conduct high-tech manufacturing of finished data center cabinets for other data centers"

    Stores forty-two 1u servers in a stylish brushed aluminum housing. Introducing the New Apple iRack Pro.

    • Except that the entire thing is unibody and if a cable goes bad between "servers", it's cheaper to replace the entire rack.
      • Except that the entire thing is unibody and if a cable goes bad between "servers", it's cheaper to replace the entire rack.

        And next year's rack will be so awesome that it will only support official Apple PDU accessories and require new magnetic power cords...

    • The iRack looks unstable!

    • Re:Server Racks (Score:4, Insightful)

      by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @04:26PM (#53636779)

      "conduct high-tech manufacturing of finished data center cabinets for other data centers"

      Stores forty-two 1u servers in a stylish brushed aluminum housing. Introducing the New Apple iRack Pro.

      Apple wanting to put their artistic flair inside a data center is akin to an artist painting the inside of a toilet bowl.

      The only time anyone is going to see it is when things get really shitty.

    • So essentially, this is metal furniture that is somehow passed off as 'High-Tech' due to some connector that may be there b/w the racks?
      • When they say finished data center cabinets for their other data centers, I assume that means with all of the hardware already installed, ready to be shipped to one of their data centers, installed, and powered on. I doubt it means an empty cabinet. The empty cabinet is one of the parts, along with all of the various hardware and networking components.

        • Yes. It sounds to me also like "Computer manufacturer (Apple) will build servers for their own (Apple) computer installations. Like, wow man, that's awesome!"
        • by jazzis ( 612421 )

          When they say finished data center cabinets for their other data centers, I assume that means with all of the hardware already installed, ready to be shipped to one of their data centers, installed, and powered on. I doubt it means an empty cabinet. The empty cabinet is one of the parts, along with all of the various hardware and networking components.

          Damn man; you must be new here.... You are making too much sense. Stop Making Sense

    • "conduct high-tech manufacturing of finished data center cabinets for other data centers"

      Stores forty-two 1u servers in a stylish brushed aluminum housing. Introducing the New Apple iRack Pro.

      The XRack!!!

  • Ad block blocker (Score:4, Interesting)

    by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @03:50PM (#53636495)
    If the site does not allow my Ad Block to run, I ain't looking. A warning would be nice. An alternative would be nicer.
  • by stabiesoft ( 733417 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @04:06PM (#53636615) Homepage
    I quickly scanned the article. My impression was they will screw them together in mesa, and all the pieces will be imported. By "finishing" the product in mesa they avoid customs on all the pieces. Before, they actually screwed them together in NC, Oregon, etc, the places they were used, and probably had to pay import taxes on the components. So net, no new US jobs, probably fewer since centralizing the finishing will optimize the process.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This. I'm not sure why this is being published as a puff piece on Apple when they're really pulling a scheme that auto manufacturers perfected decades ago.

    • Yes. It is to avoid taxes. Very few jobs as the robots will do the actual manufacturing. Arizona is not known for its labour force.
  • by Camel Pilot ( 78781 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @04:10PM (#53636641) Homepage Journal

    "The Arizona effort would mark a rare instance of a US tech company manufacturing and assembling a finished product domestically, where labor costs are higher"

    Well that is because of this key phrase...

    "high-tech manufacturing"

    Meaning there will be very little labor and lot of robots.

  • by dhaen ( 892570 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @04:14PM (#53636675)
    I regard this as bolloxing of the law.
  • Isn't AZ too hot? Do you really want a data center where the temperature quite often approaches 110 degrees? You'll need "turbo" A/C. Doesn't seem economical.

    Why not Idaho? Cooler weather, low taxes, and cheap real-estate.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Correction, it's not a data-center itself, but electronic manufacturing is still an energy-intensive industry.

    • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *

      Isn't AZ too hot? Do you really want a data center where the temperature quite often approaches 110 degrees?

      Las Vegas isn't much cooler than Phoenix (maybe 10 degrees most of the time), yet Switch is doing booming business here with datacenters popping up all over town. The temperature outside hasn't been much of an impediment for them.

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        Serious server gear can function in 100+ temperature so long as that's a stable temp. I had a rack of Sun gear in Vegas we kept in a closet. Our cooling "solution" was always failing.

        Sun support said the gear could handle it.

    • Do you really want a data center where the temperature quite often approaches 110 degrees?

      Sure. Here's one [google.com]. Take a tour [io.com]. They have a facility in Scottsdale, too [io.com]. Other companies host here, also [viawest.com]. Digital Realty has nearly 1 million square feet of data center space in the county.

      Why not Idaho? Cooler weather, low taxes, and cheap real-estate.

      Idaho has a single tier-3 data center. Compared to Phoenix, I'm sure the major difference is the concentration of top-tier networks already here in Phoenix. I doubt there are as many top-tier networks running through Idaho. We also have cheap power and land, but I'm sure the prices in Idaho aren't very high either.

      • There is a lot of dark fiber around. Idaho could be a data center hub in 90 days, and centers constructed in 180.

        Cheap power, cold air for free half the year, just the winter snow as a threat.

      • There's this small company that I love to hate called GoDaddy here also.

    • Mesa sees an average of 301 sunny days each year. Solar power is now at or near parity for grid power and continues to get cheaper. The heat isn't going to cost anything extra in long run.

    • "Isn't AZ too hot? Do you really want a data center where the temperature quite often approaches 110 degrees? "

      A stable energy supply (hydro plus nuclear in this case) trumps low temperature as a manufacturing parameter.

    • Big deal, slap some solar panels on the roof to power the A/C. Problem solved.
  • Given Apple's vast knowledge and past history, this seems like either a waste of time or a significant effort to break new ground.

    Ha. Get out the popcorn and prepare to shovel the blood.

  • Watch out, people of Mesa! They're coming for your houses! They're coming for your low price commodities! They're coming for your open source OpenGL graphics stack! These are grave times for Arizona, indeed....
  • What having the xserve come back or let people run mac ox server in a vm on any Base Hardware?
    Get rid of the Ensure your physical system is an Apple-labeled computer Rule.

    If there is an xserver it needs at least dual gig-e or dual 10-gig-e + IPMI.

  • by mlts ( 1038732 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @07:54PM (#53638207)

    In my personal experience, Apple stuff is still widely regarded as high end in a lot of workplaces. Should Apple be able to step into the enterprise, it would definitely be a large market. It isn't like Apple hasn't been there, because with the XSan, Apple was the #2 selling storage vendor for a while (long time ago, but still notable.)

    Ideally, Apple should spin the enterprise division off, similar to Filemaker/Claris. That way, the toymaking arm can focus on new shinies while a dedicated company can work on what enterprises need. Heck, take the XServe... it may not have been a hit, but it was a very solid piece of equipment for its time. Done right, Apple could keep a premium price point and compete with things like UCS, but it would take some design (perhaps a hypervisor in the BIOS so machines can be racked/stacked/wired, turned on, and immediately be ready for taking VM or distributed storage loads), but with all the cash in Apple's war chest, they could buy Nutanix or StarWind Software and be in the enterprise game in no time.

  • I think my 2012 iMac was assembled at least partially here.
    Apple has been bringing what they can to the US where it makes sense from a business perspective I think.
    Feel free to correct me if you think I am wrong or have other information.

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