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Apple’s invisible server farm

Its Maiden, N.C., data center, said to be doubling in size, is still not visible on Google Maps

How is that the only photographic evidence that Apple (aapl) is building a giant data center in western North Carolina is a video fly-over shot eight months ago by a Charlotte real estate agent and a snapshot that appeared in the
Hickory Daily Record
three months earlier?

[UPDATE: There's a new flyover! Shot by the same real estate agent on Oct. 23 and posted below the fold.]

Maps of the original 183 acres purchased in 2009 and a 70-acre parcel that Apple assembled across the street were posted Wednesday by Digital Daily's John Paczkowski. Last week, Paczkowski quoted unnamed sources who said Apple was "considering" using the new plot to build a second server farm as big as the first. The combined 1-million-square-foot facility would be 10 times the size of Apple's current data center in Newark, Calif.

It will reportedly serve as the centerpiece of Apple's push into cloud computing, whereby music, movies, photos, calendars and other files currently stored on Mac hard drives would reside instead on Apple's remote servers.

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Steve Jobs has said that the new entry-level MacBook Air, with no hard drive and only 64 GB of solid state memory, is what notebook computers of the future will look like.

But for all its size and importance, the North Carolina facility still doesn't appear on Google Maps, which shows actual farms where the first server farm is supposed to be. And so far, no news organization larger than the Hickory Daily Record has bothered to send a photographer.

The address, if anybody wants to drive out there with a camera, is 6081 Startown Rd., about 50 miles northwest of Charlotte and just south of U.S. Route 321.

Below the fold: The February and October 2010 fly-overs.

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Feb. 2010

Oct. 2010

Thanks to reader Howard Kaplan for spotting the new video.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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