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Apple Announces Plan to Construct $2 Billion Data Center in Arizona

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On Monday, February 2, the State of Arizona announced that computer and mobile gadget giant Apple will be investing $2 billion to convert a failed sapphire plant into a massive new data center in Mesa.

Sapphire, a translucent material stronger than glass, had once been intended to become the standard surface for all of Apple's new iPhone, iPad and Mac computer screens -- until its manufacturer, GT Advanced Technologies, went bankrupt last October, the New York Times reported. With the sapphire facility in Mesa sitting inactive and vacant, Apple seized the opportunity to use the space to its advantage.

The Mesa building, which once acted as a solar panel facility, boasts 1.3 million square feet, and will accommodate countless computer server rack enclosures to store its servers once Apple finishes converting the building.

In a statement, Apple executives called its multibillion-dollar investment one of the most significant investments the company has made in its history, the start of a major effort to bring manufacturing jobs back into the U.S. Apple estimates its new data center will create 600 new engineering and construction jobs in Mesa, in addition to about 150 permanent, full-time jobs once the data center is constructed.

According to the New York Times, Apple intends to use the center's servers as a "central command center" that will monitor activity at its other data centers and computer networks spanning the globe.

Bloomberg reports that Apple's data center will be completely powered by renewable energy sources such as a nearby solar farm. When the average large data center consumes as much energy as a small town, Apple's reliance on renewable energy at this data center is a significant achievement. Apple will also invest in more solar energy projects in the area, which the company states will be able to power as many as 14,500 Arizona homes.

And while Apple's newest iPhones aren't being manufactured with sapphire, the company hasn't completely ruled out the possibility of future devices made with sapphire screens.

What are your thoughts on Apple's massive new data center? Have any other questions for us on computer server racks or enclosures? Let us know in the comments below.

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