Apple building another smaller data center in North Carolina

Workers building out the power lines around Apple's data center

Workers building out the power lines around Apple’s data center

Apple is building another, smaller, data center, next to its massive iCloud data center, in Maiden, North Carolina, according to the Hickory Daily Record. The new planned 21,030 square-foot, 11-room, data center will store clusters of servers; for comparison the current massive data center on the site is 500,000 square feet.

The Hickory Daily Record reporter also notes that the current plans at the Maiden site show both the new mini data center, as well as the “footprint for a larger data center that would run nearly parallel to the existing one and would t-bone the smaller one currently under construction.” Sounds like Apple has substantially more plans for the Maiden site, which could be one reason for some of the conflicting power numbers that Apple has announced and Greenpeace has been insisting on.

Other Internet companies have used this same model, called a tactical design or a tactical data center. Splitting up some of the servers into a smaller facility could enable Apple to do things like separate the servers for the various IT services it delivers and treat those servers differently, run the separate servers on a different power source or add on more servers in phases. These small tactical data centers are far cheaper and can be built more quickly. A 21,030 square-foot data center probably only consumes around 2.5 MW of power.

Apple chose North Carolina for its original massive data center because the state has some of the cheapest and most reliable power available. That power is mostly from coal and nuclear sources. Other Internet giants, Google and Facebook, have also chosen the region for their east coast data centers. Apple is also building huge solar and fuel cell farms at the Maiden site and says the entire site will be use 100 percent clean energy, through various methods.

To read my complete series on the mega data centers in North Carolina check out my four-part series this week:

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