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Apple Data Centre Athenry = Middle of Nowhere.

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  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 10,219 Mod ✭✭✭✭CatInABox


    4ensic15 wrote: »
    Apple can't wait around until technology advances. At one point it made sense to attempt to build a data centre in Athenry. At one time it made sense to pay £10k for PC that could only do word processing. What is being done now won't be done in 10 years. What is the only show in town now won't be in the same town in 10 years. We welcomed call centres 25 years ago. Then, the call centres moved to India. The same will happen with data centres.

    No. Just no. So much of what you've posted in the last few pages belies an extreme misunderstanding of how the internet, how chip fabrication works, and the potential futures of both.

    Miniaturisation on the scale that you are talking about is not going to happen. There hasn't been a die shrink worth mentioning in years. They're already hitting the limits that physics itself places on chip manufacturing, and that's not going to change anytime soon, despite the billions upon billions being poured into the problem

    Data usage is increasing faster than they can build infrastructure to keep up with it. When it comes time to upgrade a data centre, they don't just mothball the entire thing, they slot one blade out, and replace it with a more powerful version exactly the same size.

    Data Centres are also required where data is used. It's fine visiting a website on a server on the far side of the world, but if you want to run a triple AAA service, then you need the data to be as close to the user as possible. That applies for every kind of data going, music, video, games, work, you name it. It's simply better to be closer.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 4,691 ✭✭✭4ensic15


    CatInABox wrote: »
    No. Just no. So much of what you've posted in the last few pages belies an extreme misunderstanding of how the internet, how chip fabrication works, and the potential futures of both.

    Miniaturisation on the scale that you are talking about is not going to happen. There hasn't been a die shrink worth mentioning in years. They're already hitting the limits that physics itself places on chip manufacturing, and that's not going to change anytime soon, despite the billions upon billions being poured into the problem

    Data usage is increasing faster than they can build infrastructure to keep up with it. When it comes time to upgrade a data centre, they don't just mothball the entire thing, they slot one blade out, and replace it with a more powerful version exactly the same size.

    Data Centres are also required where data is used. It's fine visiting a website on a server on the far side of the world, but if you want to run a triple AAA service, then you need the data to be as close to the user as possible. That applies for every kind of data going, music, video, games, work, you name it. It's simply better to be closer.

    If being close to the users of the data is so important why is so much data store on a remote island in North Western Europe? You assume the same technology will continue to be used. All people,e wanted when Henry Ford started was a better horse. Assuming that data centres will stay where they are and evolve through multiple upgrades of technology is not the way IT has ever worked or will continue to.


  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 10,219 Mod ✭✭✭✭CatInABox


    4ensic15 wrote: »
    If being close to the users of the data is so important why is so much data store on a remote island in North Western Europe? You assume the same technology will continue to be used. All people,e wanted when Henry Ford started was a better horse. Assuming that data centres will stay where they are and evolve through multiple upgrades of technology is not the way IT has ever worked or will continue to.

    For users in Europe, they build in Europe. For users in America, they build in America. For users in India, they build in India.

    So in order to support your theory, we're now inventing brand new technologies that somehow the laws of physics don't apply to?

    Data centres have been in use since the 1940s, and have evolved through multiple upgrades of technology, so that's exactly how it works.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    4ensic15 wrote: »
    If being close to the users of the data is so important why is so much data store on a remote island in North Western Europe? You assume the same technology will continue to be used. All people,e wanted when Henry Ford started was a better horse. Assuming that data centres will stay where they are and evolve through multiple upgrades of technology is not the way IT has ever worked or will continue to.
    You have not mentioned all the data centres in and around Dublin (& other capital cities), these are used by the corporate clients who want the really fast service. The remote data centres are more likely to host facebook or other such "free" internet services, where the users can tolerate a few extra milliseconds.

    If there is only one location hosting the data, the service would be quite "laggy", just try navigating a site like this http://andelplumbing.com.au/ a plumbing web site in Australia


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,369 ✭✭✭JohnC.


    4ensic15 wrote: »
    They said the same thing to the guy who said 30gig of storage which at the time would fill a bus, would fit on a postage stamp and be no thicker than 4 of them together and wouldn't need an air-conditioned environment.

    And now 30gig is worthless. People need more. That's the point. Things may get smaller, but the need for more also gets bigger. Not only are they fitting more in the same space, but they continue to build even more spaces for even more capacity.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,284 ✭✭✭dubhthach


    4ensic15 wrote: »
    That has nothing to do with the climatic reasons. Data centres are not in Ireland for any reason other than the temperate climate. When the temperate climate is no longer an issue and when further miniaturisation happens a data centre can be sited under a desk.

    What further minaturisation, are you really suggestion that we can fit a million plus processor cores under desktop? Intel are having huge problems moving to the next production node, unless you are suggesting quantum computing, in which case no doubt it'll be viable about same time as Fusion power.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,284 ✭✭✭dubhthach


    JohnC. wrote: »
    And now 30gig is worthless. People need more. That's the point. Things may get smaller, but the need for more also gets bigger. Not only are they fitting more in the same space, but they continue to build even more spaces for even more capacity.

    It's even worse when you consider that every iphone sold in Europe gets 5GB of free iCloud space (with options to upgrade to 50GB, 200GB or 2TB) of data.

    There's on order of 700m plus active iphones in the world. At a minimum the data requirements for just iCloud for this is probably around 3.5EB (Exabytes) or to put in context 3,500 TB (or 3,500,000 GB). And that's just on minimum size, and that's ignoring iTunes contents, Appstores etc. Let alone the likes of monsters like Amazon AWS whose trying to get every European company to move their backoffice (along with all their data) to the 'Cloud'.

    From a context of most of western Europe the latency from Ireland to continent is in range of 30-60ms ergo it makes sense for Apple to serve their actual money making cloud services out of Ireland as it guarantees that they fall under Irish corporate tax system (eg. the actual app you download is 'exported' from a DC in Ireland vs. purchases in a brick and mortar store in Paris...)

    For example the .SE registry decided to migrated most of their domain platform/provisining system to the 'cloud', they picked Amazon in Dublin (over Frankfurt). As a result when you buy a .se domain today nearly the entire system is running out of Dublin other then their DNSSEC signing infrastructure (for the zone builds) which they have still in Stockholm (using HSM's to store the DNSSEC key data).

    .BE likewise have moved their system to cloud, obviously these are ccTLD's but they point to widespread move of backoffice data into 'cloud providers'. Which is anything will guaranteed continued exponential growth requirement for data storage (exceeding the capacity to shrink said storage) and for raw compute power (eg. virtual cores running on actual physical cores)


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 4,691 ✭✭✭4ensic15


    There will always be a demand for storage. I don't doubt that. What I am saying is the storage will not always be in the form that it currently is and won't need to be sited where it currently is.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,284 ✭✭✭dubhthach


    sure storage will always get smaller, however the major driver of cloud usage is compute usage. eg. people are doing automatic resource provisioning of virtual machines to offload compute demands. So for example NetFlix offer a new tv show and there's sudden demand/spike in a particular region for it. They spin up massive number of new virtual machines in AWS to offload the compute load, once demand drops these are automatically powered down. As a result they are only billed for CPU time during the peak. This basically means they don't have to overprovision and have servers that are sitting 95%+ idle most of time and drawing power.

    Likewise the prototypical example is people uploading their webstore infrastructure and using AWS provided API's to automatically scale it based on demand (or lack there of). Backend storage doesn't particulary expand much but been able to automatically scale compute resources for frontend systems is what's driving the demand for the service.

    Again unless we suddenly see a radical shift from standard CPU architectures to something like Quantum computing we aren't gonna see a shrinkage of DC's in the foreseeable period. If anything we'll see contuined movement to hyperscale which in latest iterations is driven by full containerised DC's (eg. shipping container fully fitted out -- upgrades are simple as pulling out container and replacing it)


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,116 ✭✭✭plodder


    4ensic15 wrote: »
    Apple can't wait around until technology advances. At one point it made sense to attempt to build a data centre in Athenry. At one time it made sense to pay £10k for PC that could only do word processing. What is being done now won't be done in 10 years. What is the only show in town now won't be in the same town in 10 years. We welcomed call centres 25 years ago. Then, the call centres moved to India. The same will happen with data centres.
    We still have call centres here. So, we may still have data centres as well in 25 years. The single biggest revolution in technology (maybe in a hundred years) is fibre broadband. We think of Ireland as being a remote corner of Europe, but it's actually right in the path of a straight line drawn from the East of the US to central Europe. So, it's no accident that many of the major transcontinental fibre links pass near to Ireland and which we are linked to. With that connectivity and our temperate climate, we are ideally suited for data centres.


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  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    The Supreme Court has reserved judgment in the case i.e. They are deferring their decision to a later date

    At this stage, I think this is going to end up in the European Courts either by the Supreme Court referring the case or an appeal if they make a decision

    https://www.galwaydaily.com/news/apple-athenry-saga-goes-on-as-supreme-court-reserves-judgement/


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,315 ✭✭✭snowstreams


    That is a joke if they still cant make a decision.
    Surely there can't be any more facts that they need to know in order to make their decision?

    It doesn't matter that much anymore though since Apple went to Denmark long ago.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    That is a joke if they still cant make a decision.
    Surely there can't be any more facts that they need to know in order to make their decision?

    It doesn't matter that much anymore though since Apple went to Denmark long ago.

    It matters a lot, a whole lot.

    Consider for a moment, how many more dc's are planned.

    The state applied to join the case on the side of An Bord Pleanála as the outcome of this case could have an impact on planning decisions future data centre projects in Ireland.

    If it ends up in Europe it'll potentially impact dc developments throughout the EU


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,315 ✭✭✭snowstreams


    Well if it ends up in Europe, then the UK will have to become the data centre hub for this region!

    Denmark didnt seem to have any problems with their Apple data centres though.
    They got permission in an instant compared to how this is playing out here.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,284 ✭✭✭dubhthach


    Meanwhile Facebook just got planning permission for two new Data Halls at their Clonee complex:

    https://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/facebook-set-to-double-size-of-data-centre-in-co-meath-1.3816269
    We are happy to confirm that we will be expanding our Clonee Data Centre. We will be adding two new buildings which will bring the total facility to nearly 150,000 square meters. This expansion will result in hundreds of millions of euros in incremental investment in Clonee as well additional jobs during construction and operations.

    We expect construction will begin later this month.

    The Clonee Data Centre will continue to be one of the most advanced, energy efficient data centers in the world and will be supported by 100% renewable energy. A comprehensive approach to sustainable design and construction, including energy and water conservation, responsible material sourcing and waste reduction, helped the existing buildings at Clonee earn LEED Gold certification in December and win Ireland’s Green Construction Award. In the construction of the first two buildings, we were able to recycle 97% of the project’s construction waste instead of sending it to landfills.

    Ireland, County Meath and the people of Clonee have been great partners from the beginning. We are excited to be expanding our presence in this community!


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 12 Riar_


    dubhthach wrote: »
    Meanwhile Facebook just got planning permission for two new Data Halls at their Clonee complex:

    https://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/facebook-set-to-double-size-of-data-centre-in-co-meath-1.3816269

    I wonder how can they make the claim a fundamentally untrue claim 100% renewable?


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,235 ✭✭✭lucernarian


    dubhthach wrote: »
    It's even worse when you consider that every iphone sold in Europe gets 5GB of free iCloud space (with options to upgrade to 50GB, 200GB or 2TB) of data.

    There's on order of 700m plus active iphones in the world. At a minimum the data requirements for just iCloud for this is probably around 3.5EB (Exabytes) or to put in context 3,500 TB (or 3,500,000 GB). And that's just on minimum size, and that's ignoring iTunes contents, Appstores etc. Let alone the likes of monsters like Amazon AWS whose trying to get every European company to move their backoffice (along with all their data) to the 'Cloud'.

    From a context of most of western Europe the latency from Ireland to continent is in range of 30-60ms ergo it makes sense for Apple to serve their actual money making cloud services out of Ireland as it guarantees that they fall under Irish corporate tax system (eg. the actual app you download is 'exported' from a DC in Ireland vs. purchases in a brick and mortar store in Paris...)

    For example the .SE registry decided to migrated most of their domain platform/provisining system to the 'cloud', they picked Amazon in Dublin (over Frankfurt). As a result when you buy a .se domain today nearly the entire system is running out of Dublin other then their DNSSEC signing infrastructure (for the zone builds) which they have still in Stockholm (using HSM's to store the DNSSEC key data).

    .BE likewise have moved their system to cloud, obviously these are ccTLD's but they point to widespread move of backoffice data into 'cloud providers'. Which is anything will guaranteed continued exponential growth requirement for data storage (exceeding the capacity to shrink said storage) and for raw compute power (eg. virtual cores running on actual physical cores)
    I think some of these services are available at low cost or free to the consumer because the competition from providers has led to "nameplate" allowances being possibly quite a lot higher than what can be provided if every typical consumer snapped it all up. Some folks might use their iCloud storage more, or Google, or Microsoft OneDrive.

    The electricity demand issue is unfortunate, as in effect we will foot the bill in carbon taxes and energy consumption per capita for a commodity that's mainly exported.

    I'm surprised there hasn't been more "decentralisation" of the largest data warehouses, so to speak. I don't see where significant economies of scale come from. Building a 200 MW demand facility is possibly far more expensive than 100 MW, depending on the location I suppose (one argument in favour of the location near Athenry, as the marginal cost wasn't as crazy IIRC). Many warehouses I've been told are built to per sq metre costs (no economy of scale). And the larger the location, the larger the target as far as security concerns go. The economies of scale of ordering 10000 server racks can still be split among say 10 sites instead of 2 large ones.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,284 ✭✭✭dubhthach


    Riar_ wrote: »
    I wonder how can they make the claim a fundamentally untrue claim 100% renewable?

    I'm assuming they are calculating their total MW usage for the site and then entering a contract with a electricity provider for them to provision that many MW's of renewable energy at a fixed price for set number of years.

    When that company (heck it could even be the ESB) needs to go to market to raise the capital to provision the renewables they have a signed legal contract from Facebook guaranteeing income of X euro by Y years for Z MW's. As a result the money market will more likely provide decent interest rates for capital expenditure of building the required amount of Wind/Solar/Battery etc.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 12 Riar_


    dubhthach wrote: »
    I'm assuming they are calculating their total MW usage for the site and then entering a contract with a electricity provider for them to provision that many MW's of renewable energy at a fixed price for set number of years.

    When that company (heck it could even be the ESB) needs to go to market to raise the capital to provision the renewables they have a signed legal contract from Facebook guaranteeing income of X euro by Y years for Z MW's. As a result the money market will more likely provide decent interest rates for capital expenditure of building the required amount of Wind/Solar/Battery etc.

    Yes, it is probably along those lines but their statement is very dishonest and no one is going to punish them for telling the truth even if it is more complicated.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,284 ✭✭✭dubhthach


    I think some of these services are available at low cost or free to the consumer because the competition from providers has led to "nameplate" allowances being possibly quite a lot higher than what can be provided if every typical consumer snapped it all up. Some folks might use their iCloud storage more, or Google, or Microsoft OneDrive.

    The electricity demand issue is unfortunate, as in effect we will foot the bill in carbon taxes and energy consumption per capita for a commodity that's mainly exported.

    I'm surprised there hasn't been more "decentralisation" of the largest data warehouses, so to speak. I don't see where significant economies of scale come from. Building a 200 MW demand facility is possibly far more expensive than 100 MW, depending on the location I suppose (one argument in favour of the location near Athenry, as the marginal cost wasn't as crazy IIRC). Many warehouses I've been told are built to per sq metre costs (no economy of scale). And the larger the location, the larger the target as far as security concerns go. The economies of scale of ordering 10000 server racks can still be split among say 10 sites instead of 2 large ones.

    Sure but that's what capacity planning is for, even if only 25% of IPhone users in Europe were using their iCloud storage (and even then only average about 20% of 5GB usage each) you are still looking at PB's (Petabytes) of storage.

    There's what 280 million smartphones in Europe. Apple have at least 25% of that market. So we are looking at 70 million iPhones. If we go pessimestic and reckon that only 10% of those are using iCloud that still 7 million phones syncing.

    If average is about 1GB/phone you are looking at about 7PB's of storage usage.

    Worse case scenario is you would need to at least plan for 70m * 5GB = 350 PetaBytes just to cover the free usage of European iPhones.

    That's leaving aside that there are people paying for extra capacity as well. The thing to remember though is even if you over provision your Storage tier (lots and lots of high end SAN's!) you can use the excess storage for other services offered such as:
    • App Store
    • iTunes
    • Apple TV etc.

    The big grower for Apple in last couple of financial reports has been their 'services division' eg. the people running storage like iCloud and content provision etc. (iTunes/Apple TV)

    As regard racks, most of these hyperscaler data centers use containers (prefitted with Racks), so easy to scale up new equipment, when you want to upgrade you just swap out the shipping container and replace it with new one. Obviously having fewer sites mean you can reduce costs/overhead of having to deal with 10 sites vs 1 (network/power provision etc.)

    Given the high speed data links the standard DR/BCP (Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity process) is continuous replication and fail over to other DC cluster in different geographic region.

    In case of Apple that would have been Denmark, so if there was a major issue in Denmark they would fail over all their customers using that infrastructure to Ireland and vice-versa


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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,235 ✭✭✭lucernarian


    dubhthach wrote: »
    As regard racks, most of these hyperscaler data centers use containers (prefitted with Racks), so easy to scale up new equipment, when you want to upgrade you just swap out the shipping container and replace it with new one. Obviously having fewer sites mean you can reduce costs/overhead of having to deal with 10 sites vs 1 (network/power provision etc.)

    Given the high speed data links the standard DR/BCP (Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity process) is continuous replication and fail over to other DC cluster in different geographic region.

    In case of Apple that would have been Denmark, so if there was a major issue in Denmark they would fail over all their customers using that infrastructure to Ireland and vice-versa
    I can only compare on the basics, but like I said I don't see where these "obvious" economies of scale are coming from. this "having to deal with" cost, can you realistically price these things? The security implications (meaning physical attack or infiltration) of having one physical site underpin so many services, are considerable.



    The marginal cost of capex for the connectivity is quite small (i.e. physically linking 10 different paths to a fibre backbone vs 1 + 1 redundant path for a massive data warehouse). There's a lower limit of course to this,you can't have bits of server farm scattered around like Eir and UPC cabinets. A site able to handle multiple containers of typical racks is a better ballpark. But site-wide issues can be curtailed to smaller clusters and redundancy is equally possible on a smaller scale than what Apple had in mind for near Athenry. In any BCP there ought to be an elimination of single points of failure, something inherently managed by a more distributed server farm architecture.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    dubhthach wrote: »

    As regard racks, most of these hyperscaler data centers use containers (prefitted with Racks), so easy to scale up new equipment, when you want to upgrade you just swap out the shipping container and replace it with new one. Obviously having fewer sites mean you can reduce costs/overhead of having to deal with 10 sites vs 1 (network/power provision etc.)

    I had done some research in college a few years back on sustainability & data centres, which didn't mesh at all with your claim of hyperscalar(hyperscale you mean?) data centres using containers.

    Microsoft (&others) flirted with the idea of containerised racks but they have largely abandoned, e.g. Microsoft's ITPAC system, or Google's containerised system. Even Amazon has moved on from them when building new data centres.

    e.g. https://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/04/20/microsoft-moves-away-from-data-center-containers

    Can you point out a recent hyperscale data centre that was built using a containerised system?


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,116 ✭✭✭plodder


    dubhthach wrote: »
    Meanwhile Facebook just got planning permission for two new Data Halls at their Clonee complex:
    I'd be fairly peed off if I was from Athenry, seeing this. I see the government is looking at restricting the right of non-local people from objecting to planning applications generally. Not sure that is the answer. The problem here is the interminable time it takes to go through the court system. The Apple project is dead for more than a year at this stage, but the court case is still rumbling on regardless.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    plodder wrote: »
    I'd be fairly peed off if I was from Athenry, seeing this. I see the government is looking at restricting the right of non-local people from objecting to planning applications generally. Not sure that is the answer. The problem here is the interminable time it takes to go through the court system. The Apple project is dead for more than a year at this stage, but the court case is still rumbling on regardless.

    Aside from a handful, people of Athenry have moved on. It was always just a glorified warehouse. If it was run ACME Datacenters Inc nobody would have given it a second thought in not getting planning and more than likely there would have been many more objections

    There's been recent investment in the food and innovation campus in Teagasc that will result in 4 times as many jobs and lead to a lot of additional employment through suppliers etc and it's sustainable, won't result in national fines, and won't gobble up the equivalent of 5 counties worth of electricity

    https://connachttribune.ie/e4m-food-innovation-campus-gets-planning-approval-911/


  • Registered Users Posts: 23 M50Jct15


    DaCor wrote: »
    Aside from a handful, people of Athenry have moved on.

    I guess you aren't that familiar with Athenry?


  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 14,333 Mod ✭✭✭✭marno21


    A lot of talk about this would have you believe that Apple were planning a Cork like operation in Athenry.

    If this had been built, there would have been a cold reality setting in that Apple had built a lightly staffed giant electricity sink in Athenry. The talk of it being transformative for the local economy and it being a big declaration of Apple's belief in Athenry was vastly overstated.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    M50Jct15 wrote: »
    I guess you aren't that familiar with Athenry?

    Does living in it count?


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,116 ✭✭✭plodder


    DaCor wrote: »
    There's been recent investment in the food and innovation campus in Teagasc that will result in 4 times as many jobs and lead to a lot of additional employment through suppliers etc and it's sustainable, won't result in national fines, and won't gobble up the equivalent of 5 counties worth of electricity

    https://connachttribune.ie/e4m-food-innovation-campus-gets-planning-approval-911/
    That might well be a better type of investment in the long run. The Apple project was mostly a short term win, but I find it a bit odd that people are able to deploy these arguments about 5 counties worth of electricity etc when it's Apple in Athenry, but not when it's Facebook in Dublin.

    We still have the general problem that people can hold a project like this to ransom and keep it mired in the courts for years, long enough to force it to be cancelled.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23 M50Jct15


    DaCor wrote: »
    Does living in it count?

    Yep. That would count....


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  • Registered Users Posts: 14,691 ✭✭✭✭loyatemu




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