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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Tech News > Former GT Advanced sapphire plant to become $2B Apple datacenter

Former GT Advanced sapphire plant to become $2B Apple datacenter
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NewsPoster
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Feb 2, 2015, 05:48 PM
 
Apple will be spending $2 billion over the course of 10 years to convert GT Advanced's failed sapphire plant in Mesa, Arizona into a datacenter, according to an official announcement. The company claims that the project is "one of the largest" investments it has ever made, and should add over 600 engineering and construction jobs to the area, though the facility will only have 150 permanent workers. It's also promising to use entirely renewable power, "much" of which will come from a future 70MW solar farm it's building.

Construction is due to start by late 2016, possibly earlier. GT-operated furnaces in the plant are being stored and will eventually be liquidated, something which is temporarily delaying any use of the facility.

Apple and GT originally collaborated on the plant in 2013 with the hope of using sapphire in products like iPhones. GT suddenly declared bankruptcy in October 2014 however, and the two parties have fought in the aftermath, with GT accusing Apple of pulling a "bait-and-switch strategy" in its contract terms, and the latter denying any wrongdoing. Apple promised to find another use for the plant, and help the 600-plus GT workers who lost their livelihoods.
( Last edited by NewsPoster; Feb 3, 2015 at 05:05 AM. )
     
djbeta
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Feb 2, 2015, 06:05 PM
 
A data center in Arizona... that sounds efficient.. how many fans will you need to cool that sh** down?
     
Charles Martin
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Feb 2, 2015, 06:47 PM
 
Arizona is actually ideal for a data center. There should be some cool winds and lots of sunshine to power the plant. The only reason this is going to cost more than normal for a data center (Apple spent $3.2 billion building the Prineville one, but that was from scratch) is because Apple bought the buildings and land first and the former will have to be retrofitted (plus, you know, solar farm). So I think this will ultimately be a good case of making lemonade out of lemons for Apple.
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DiabloConQueso
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Feb 2, 2015, 06:49 PM
 
Very few, if evaporative cooling is used -- and Mesa, Arizona is probably a great candidate candidate for it (warm, with relatively low humidity, plus several diverted sources of water both above ground and underground). Plus, it's also a great place for a solar farm (very little natural shade with lots of daylight hours).
     
iBricking.com
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Feb 2, 2015, 06:54 PM
 
Is that right? Ten years sounds way too long.
     
Charles Martin
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Feb 3, 2015, 01:22 AM
 
What is meant by the "10 years" phrase, iBricking, is that Apple has plans to expand the data centre to accommodate growing need over the next 10 years, and those costs will be factored in. It will probably take a year or two to build the solar farm and convert the buildings, and they are not even starting on that until next year, so it's at least 2017 or 2018 before this project even goes on line.
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iBricking.com
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Feb 3, 2015, 07:39 AM
 
Thank you for clarifying that.
     
Grendelmon
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Feb 3, 2015, 10:15 AM
 
Was this Apple's plan all along?
     
Flying Meat
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Feb 3, 2015, 04:25 PM
 
You mean when they first started business?

Yes. I believe I understand what you are intimating, but that would seem to be a rather expensive, embarrassing, and convoluted process to undertake rather than just getting approval for a server farm project.
     
   
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