Apple Server Farm

Earlier this summer, Apple selected Maiden, North Carolina, as the future location of a massive new server farm. Mass speculation continues to this day over its purpose (re: with no search engine, what's it for?) - iPhone Apps? Cloud computing services like MobileMe or the iTunes store?

Regardless of its unannounced purpose, here's what we know from published reports.


183 acres. Development of the one billion dollar, 500,000-square foot building was scheduled to begin as early as August, but we've yet to see any word that construction has broken ground.

Energy Use.

The numbers on this, unfortunately, are all over the map. It's hard to tell which sources are speculative...so, a few key points.

  1. A similar 174 acre server farm built in California uses 180 megawatts of energy, enough to power all the homes in Honolulu. But that was back in 2002.

  2. The buildings need to stay around a temp of 68 degrees, so air conditioning in these buildings, especially in the South, are large power drainers.

  3. From Data Center Knowledge: County officials have also been working with T5 Mission Critical Facilities, a company formed recently by former members of the data center practice at the Staubach Company. T5 is developing a site near Route 321 in with an existing 150,000 powered shell with up to 120 megawatts of power available for a single large user. The company says the power from Duke Energy is priced at 3.8 to 4.4 cents per kWh.

  4. (so, by this estimate, they'll at least be taking in 120 MW at a negotiated price)
  5. A large water project in nearby Hickory will also help cool the plant.
  6. Another interesting quote about location and energy use:
    "That parcel was a winner because it has access to large amounts of power and water and both primary and backup supplies of each, he said.

    That redundancy will be key to keeping Apples' many computer servers powered and cool, even if there is a storm or water-line break.

    A 36-inch water line from Hickory runs 2,000 feet from the site and a new, smaller loop line in the same area will provide backup service. Duke Energy also has two major lines running south from Hickory and north from Lincolnton.

    The data center will use about 20 megawatts annually – enough to power 16,000 homes."

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