Originally published: Nov. 22, 2010
Last updated: Jan. 26, 2023
As the largest tech company in the world, providing cloud services to over one billion people, Apple servers and data centers are rapidly expanding. While the company has recently focused on sourcing domestic semiconductor chips, especially through its partnership with TSMC, the company is still heavily invested in growing its data center facilities domestically and internationally.
We’ve compiled our coverage of Apple’s data centers and servers into a series of Frequently Asked Questions. Here’s the Apple Data Center FAQ or “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Apple’s Data Centers.”
Where Are Apple's Data Centers Located?
In the U.S. Apple operates data centers in Arizona, North Carolina, Oregon, Nevada, and California. Internationally, Apple data centers are operating in Denmark and China. The data center located in Guizhou, China operated in partnership with a local firm and has been impacted by Chinese COVID-19 policy over the past few years. In addition to these Apple-owned data centers, the company leases some data center and colocation space from other entities.
What Are Apple’s Plans for Expansion?
Apple recently pledged $430 billion over the next five years on data center expansion and chip manufacturing. Some of this money is set to expand existing data centers in North Carolina, Arizona, and Nevada, and build an additional facility in Iowa. The new 1.3 billion facility in Waukee, Iowa began construction in 2022. The new 400,000 square foot data center campus will feature 6 data centers, will be powered by renewable energy, and will create at least 50 high-paying jobs in the area. Five hundred construction and operation jobs will be created in the area.
On an international note, after setbacks in developing a new data center facility in Ireland, Apple is working to expand its Viborg, Denmark data center campus. The expansion includes infrastructure to capture excess heat for usage in the surrounding city.
To take advantage of the CHIPS Act, Apple urged its primary chipmaker TSMC to invest $40 billion in Arizona to build semiconductor chips in the United States. This partnership allows Apple to source chips directly from the United States and avoid potential global supply chain disruptions that rocked the industry over the past few years.
How Does Apple Power Its Data Centers?
Apple's facilities, from retail stores to data centers in more than 40 countries, are powered with renewable energy. Data centers specifically are powered by renewable energy, and have been since 2014. The company also commits to carbon neutrality by 2030. Apple’s overall energy goal is to expand environmental efforts by building new proprietary renewable projects and investing in existing local projects. Energy needs that are not met by Apple’s renewable projects or partners are purchased locally from clean energy providers.
Apple’s data center facility in North Carolina is supported by clean energy projects that generate 244 million kWh per year. The campus is powered by solar farms and fuel cells that use biogas from landfills. The facility is Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, the highest rating possible to certify energy efficient buildings.
The Nevada data center facility is powered by a $60 million 180-acre onsite solar farm, called the Turquoise Solar Project, delivering 50 megawatts of power to the 1.1 million square foot Reno data center. The Northern Nevada solar farm joins three other renewable energy projects in Nevada that collectively deliver 270 megawatts of power.
Apple’s European data center outpost in Denmark works in tandem with 200-meter-tall onshore wind turbines that are expected to produce 62 gigawatt hours per year. Apple also invests in a nearby solar farm in Thisted that helps power the campus. All surplus energy generated routes directly into the local power grid.
What Technology Does Apple Use in Its Data Centers?
Apple is constantly innovating data center technology. Here is a breakdown of the design features of their facilities:
- Cooling: The North Carolina data center campus uses outside air cooling during night and cold-weather hours to reduce chiller usage by 75%. Additionally, Apple is piloting a program in the North Carolina and Nevada facilities to use plant-based treatment methods for cooling water in order to increase water efficiency and reduce waste. Apple closely monitors water-usage efficiency and recycles water in order to stay efficient and sustainable, which is especially important in the Arizona and Nevada data centers located in the desert.
- Backup Generators: To reduce the carbon footprint of diesel-powered emergency backup generators, Apple installed emissions control systems to reduce harmful pollutants. The operators also improved processes to test these generators less often. Apple is working towards eliminating diesel generators by redesigning substations for higher resiliency. The Nevada, North Carolina, and Oregon data centers added an additional transmission line that improves reliability and reduces the risk of emergency generator usage.
- Power: Power is distributed in data centers at higher voltages, increasing efficiency by reducing power losses due to conversions to step the power down within the data center. Energy is delivered to data center facilities via solar, wind, biogas fuel cells, and hydroelectricity.
What's Apple's Next Priority?
Domestic semiconductor manufacturing remains a top priority for Apple. CEO Tim Cook announced that Apple would source chips from TSMC's Arizona plant starting in 2024. The company led the charge in pressuring TSMC to produce the more advanced 4-nanometer chips in its new Ariona plant, as opposed to the 5-nanometer chips the plant was initially designed for. Stateside chip manufacturing from TSMC’s Arizona plant shores up Apple’s supply chain for chip usage in Apple data centers and products.
The company is working to make existing facilities more energy efficient. The company regularly audits data center processes and identifies cost savings. The company now requires high-efficiency power supplies for Apple servers. The company plans to further develop energy tracking systems to identify performance issues and either change processes or renovate facilities to reduce each facility's environmental footprint. Apple is keeping energy efficiency at the forefront of its plans to expand data center facilities in North Carolina, Arizona, and Nevada and build new facilities domestically and internationally.
Apple continues to invest in the communities that surround and sustain their data centers. As the company constructs its new Iowa data center, Apple is investing $100 million into a Public Improvement Fund in Waukee, Iowa that will support community development. In addition, Apple is supporting a new 66-acre recreation area in Iowa called Triumph Park. These initiatives are in tandem with projects and investments to support workforce development, community service, and environmental projects near Apple data centers.
Data Center Innovation:
As for data centers, construction is underway on the new Apple data center in Iowa and the company is investing heavily in expanding data centers to be able to fully support cloud services across the globe. This strengthens Apple’s cloud services and reduces the chances of major outages, like the one in March 2022. Apple is also dipping its toes into providing other data center operators with support by debuting a 4U rack-mountable Mac Pro for data center operators in 2020.