On Monday, February 2, Apple announced its $2 billion plan to transform a facility from its failed partnership with sapphire manufacturer GT Advanced Technologies into a massive “global command” data center.
According to AppleInsider, the Mesa, AZ building, which spans more than 1.3 million square feet, had been the keystone of Apple’s efforts to bring manufacturing jobs back into the U.S. from Asia. When GT Advanced Technologies filed bankruptcy last October, however, the facility failed to produce sapphire screens of adequate quality and was shut down.
Once completed, Apple’s newest data center will oversee activity at the company’s four major U.S. data centers, as well as its other data centers and networks located around the globe, all of which manage data from its iCloud services.
In addition to the 600 or so engineering and construction jobs the data center will create in the area, the data center will employ 150 people full-time, Apple states. While Apple had promised to create jobs in Arizona and the Mesa area even after GT Advanced Technologies filed bankruptcy, the number of jobs created by this data center will probably be much less than those created by a full-scale sapphire manufacturing operation.
Apple had planned to use sapphire, a material harder than glass, for its iPhone, iPad and Mac computer screens. Because of GT Advanced Technologies’ failure, however, the iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6 launched without sapphire screens.
The company states the Mesa data center will be 100% powered with renewable energy sources. When large-scale data centers can consume as much electricity as an entire town, Apple’s insistence on renewable energy sources will help reduce its environmental footprint immensely.
Apple also pledged to finance and build new solar power facilities in the area, which will supply enough energy to power as many as 14,500 Arizona homes, according to AppleInsider.
Construction on the data center is expected to begin by late 2016.