Apple’s massive data center in North Carolina will come online early next year, Apple execs said during an analyst conference call on Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s on-schedule,” said Apple’s CFO Peter Oppenheimer. “We expect it completed by the end of the calendar year.”
The $1 billion center is as big as the world’s biggest data facilities, and has been the subject of much speculation since construction started in August 2009. Occupying 500,000 square feet, the data center is about five times the size of Apple’s data center in Newark, California.
The data center may be behind Apple’s move into cloud computing, powering iTunes streaming services, or online apps for iPads and iPhones.
However, it may just represent extra capacity for Apple’s growing number of mobile devices. Apple has sold more than 100 million iOS devices, executives said on this afternoon’s analyst cal.
This is Oppenheimer’s story: “The facility will provide Apple with a major East Coast infrastructure hub to support its iTune music store and iPhone app store,” he said.
“The time-frame on construction seems about right,” said Rich Miller, founder and editor of Data Center Knowledge, an industry publication. “Data centers of this size typically take about a year to build, and they started in August. Typically there’s a couple of months of commissioning to test out all the equipment.”
However, whether Apple has more ambitious plans for the data center, Miller doesn’t know. It’s exceptional size would suggest more capabilities than just an East Coast hub.
“There’s a cone of silence on that,” said Miller. “We’ve been trying to keep an ear on the ground about that and Apple’s not saying much, and neither is anyone else working with them.”
Earlier this year, Apple hired Olivier Sanche from eBay, an expert in making massive data centers more energy efficient. Two or three months ago, Apple posted several job openings at the data center.