back to article Apple 'orders 12 petabytes of storage' from EMC

Apple has ordered a gargantuan 12 petabytes of storage from Isilon – the recent EMC acquisition – to support its iTunes video service, according to report citing an "inside source". According to to, Apple is "probably" the largest of Isilon's 1,500 customers as of the end of December. That may be an …


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  1. K. Adams


    Yeah, but what does all that storage **look** like?

    I suppose to meet Apple's standards, all of the arrays will need to be encased in glossy Pearl White or Piano Black housings, with chrome or brushed-aluminium trim, talk to the outside world through proprietary Apple cable connectors, have industrial-strength MagSafe power cords, and be managed via an iTunes-approved, Safari-based GUI app...


    1. peter 62

      of course

      i recall seeing a photo years ago from pixar's render farm of sun e4500 servers where the machines were "racked" on nice timber pedestals with spot-lighting to enhance the visual experience.

      1. Frank Bough
        Thumb Up


        if you're going to build it, might as well do a nice job.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    What are they going to do...

    ...when they run out of cats to name their OS's after?

    1. RichyS

      Re: What are they going to do...

      Dogs. Because dogs > cats.

      1. Mark 65

        It'll be a while

        I'm looking forward to OSX Tabby and OSX Heinz 57

      2. Anton Ivanov

        Not dogs

        Crocodiles. Because crocodiles == cats sans the fur. Welcome to MacOSX 12.0 "The Florida Alligator".

        In any case, this is exactly as the Seagate CEO predicted (and got laughed at by anaLysts pretending to have a clue). The growth in portable media like iDevices will drive growth in BIG storage BIG way.

    2. Marvin the Martian

      Linnaeus answered that for you.

      After the Felidae --- there's still a lot to go, but I doubt "flat-headed cat", "domestic cat" and "chinese mountain cat" will be used --- you go up the evolutionary tree to go to the Feliformae... Hyena's, Mongooses, and the like.

      You see they've already been mixing the Pantheridae and Felinae freely, there's ocelots, margays, caracals, servals and clouded leopards etc still to go. Feliformae gives us binturongs, liksangs, civets, genets, ... . From there it's a small mental (but larger evolutionary) jump to the Mustelids --- the weasel family which I think is appropriate: small expensive sneaky critters that punch above their weight.

  3. Mark 65


    "allowing tune junkies to store their music collections on Apple's service and access them from any device, anywhere."

    Given Apple make an awful lot of portable devices it seems kinda pointless.

    1. BingBong

      12 peta is not a huge amount

      when you have over 200 million itunes customers even factoring in deduping. It could archive the Large Hadron Collider data for 9 months I guess.

      Plus 12 PB is only 705 times more than I have on my home servers (that's 17 TB of ZFS raidz on FreeBSD with writes peaking at 240 MB/s 8-)

      1. Anonymous Coward

        that's ...

        nice to know, dear

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Life... get one!

        "Plus 12 PB is only 705 times more than I have on my home servers (that's 17 TB of ZFS raidz on FreeBSD with writes peaking at 240 MB/s 8-)"

        Life... get one!

        1. BingBong

          Too easy ...

          You guys are too easy to wind up!

          Sorry I'll get back to my Beowulf cluster in the shed .. working from home is great.

      3. Bristol Dave

        Cock-waving about storage space

        ...I never thought I'd see the day. It's comments like this that make me weep for humanity.

        I can *hear* the adenoids in your post.

      4. Frank Bough


        that's a lot of porn and Star Trek, isn't it?

      5. Mike007


        "Plus 12 PB is only 705 times more than I have on my home servers "

        Indeed, if they are building a data centre you can probably safely assume we're talking tens of thousands of servers (i didn't look to see if they have given a number), so this could just be buying a pair of 500GB hard drives (why bother buying smaller these days?) to run RAID-1 for 12,000 servers

    2. Anonymous Coward


      Well I've 24 gazumbabytes of storage in a shed and my brothers all the Star Wars figures, more than George Lucas and my Dad's got a Ferrari in his garage and you see the Nolans? I done with all of them and the Spice Girls too, honest! True story, their bus bus broke down outside my house and I was the only who could fix it and they had no money on 'em so they had to pay me some way, true story!

  4. gabor1

    And how exactly is this news?!

    I recently bought 72 TB for £10K. With bulk purchasing, call it 100 TB for £10K, so 1PB for £100K, so Apple just spent around a million for disks. So who cares? Are you going to report every tech company who spends a mil on hardware? gheez. Tell us when you've heard what they are going to do with it. And I mean when you've heard something *new*.

    1. Choofer


      72TB of storage in an enterprise managed cluster for $10k? Please tell me where. And i don't think you can assume a 10x multiple for bulk discount. That's a little ambitious.

      1. JEDIDIAH

        Scale is the thing.

        > 72TB of storage in an enterprise managed cluster for $10k?

        ...well this kind of deflates the idea that you can having your own local storage or that you won't get raped on cloud storage. I can have a 7TB array for a little more than the cost of the disks and it will fit inside one of my PCs. Do this twice and I've probably got more/better redundancy than some "enterprise" solution.

        When you are trying to be everyone's Time Machine the problem gets big in a hurry and becomes something quite apart from what you are trying to replicate and replace.

        The thought of moving terabytes in and out of the cloud is just... painful.

      2. gabor1


        Not $10K, but £10K, and my discount factor for bulk purchasing was not 10x, but 100/72 = 1.38x, which I think is not unreasonable. The machine is a 4U box from Supermicro. They used to make the innards of the Sun Thumper, which was the best deal in town for years, until Oracle killed it by hiking the price 5-fold.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          If you've paid £10k or $10k for 72TB, it's not Enterprise disk, discount or not. It's comodity disk, this is not to slag it off, but there is a serious differnce.

      3. Gulfie

        72Tb - No thanks

        We've already got some. It's very nice... I spit on your puny storage farm. Your boss was a hamster and your BOFH smells of elderberries.

  5. Ammaross Danan

    Trouble for....

    " support its iTunes video service, according to report citing an "inside source"."

    So, does this mean that the Netflix App is the next one to get face-punched?

    "allowing tune junkies to store their music collections on Apple's service and access them from any device"

    Wouldn't it be a LOT easier just to keep a database of the music they've "purchased" and present that to them as "virtual" files. The rest of the stuff that might be uploaded (assuming they allow non-DRM content to be uploaded....) could be de-dupped in the cloud based on song/video metadata, or the time-tested block-level method...

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      RE: Trouble for....

      I think you've spotted the real plan - remove customer control of their data by forcing them in the next gen of Apple devices to keep the media/data on the Apple cloud. Then Apple has complete control over what you get to play/download/install as you have to stream it, and anything they don't like will be deleted from your library regardless of where or how legally you got it. This is standard Jobs micro-control, and they'll dress it up as offering their customers the ability to have all their media on all their different (Apple) devices, and the Apple fanbois will let themselves be tied in knots and still scream about how great it is.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ Matt Bryant

        You think Apple wants total control over what its customers can or can't do to its stuff? I just tried upgrading a newish Dell desktop for a friend. I had to get written permission from Michael Dell just so I could remove a side panel.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          RE: @ Matt Bryant

          "....I just tried upgrading a newish Dell desktop for a friend...." I'm guessing he was desperate then?

          "....I had to get written permission from Michael Dell just so I could remove a side panel...." I'm also guessing "newish" means still under warranty, which means you were lucky to get permission to do anything to it. All vendors have warranties, and they'll all tell you that if you're not one of their service partners then upgrades will invalidate the warranty. Get over the Dell hatred.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        @Matt Bryant...

        So Sun are dead you are now turning your attention to Apple? That you used the term 'fanbois' shows that your opinion is asinine and that it has no value.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          RE: @Matt Bryant...

          "So Sun are dead...." Finally! A Sunshiner that has got the picture at last!

          " are now turning your attention to Apple..." You were obviously too busy squealling about my Sunset posts to read the Apple ones where I regularly point out the self-delusion of the average fanboi. Good to see a Sunshiner branching out into new areas and not just crying into his beer, but you really need to keep up.

  6. Robot

    My future hard disk

    In 1988, I got my first hard disk (5.25 inch 20 MBs) for CDN$425. In 2010, 12 years later, I got my first 2 TB hard disk (3.5 inch) for CDN$150, i.e. a 100,000-fold increase in capacity at one third the price. If the trends continue, I will have a 1.8 inch 200 petabyte hard disk for $35 twelve years from now.

    1. K. Adams

      "... I'll have a 1.8 inch 200 PB hard disk for $35 twelve years from now."

      That would be really cool...

      Unfortunately, once the size of an individual magnetic domain:

      -- -- Magnetic domain on Wikipedia:

      -- -- -- --

      on the platter is shrunk to a certain point, the polarity/magnetic alignment of that domain can spontaneously change due to ambient kinetic (vibration, etc.) and thermal (heat/temperature change) effects.

      Patterned media:

      -- -- Patterned media on Wikipedia:

      -- -- -- --

      will help keep the increasing storage density trend going for the near future, but eventually we're gonna have to move to a Spintronics-based technology:

      -- -- Spintronics on Wikipedia:

      -- -- -- --

      like Racetrack Memory:

      -- -- Racetrack memory on Wikipedia:

      -- -- -- --

      to get to your 1.8-inch 200 petabyte drive...

      1. Robot

        Thanks for the info

        K. Adams, Thanks for the informed reply. I sorta had a hunch that a 1.8 inch 200 petabyte drive was just a pipe dream, but didn't know the reasons why.

        With that futuristic (but imaginery) hard disk, I will be able to store all the movies in human history (Hollywood, Bollywood, Hong Kong, Europe) in my shirt pocket, all in full Blue-Ray glory!

      2. Mark Serlin

        Reply to post: "... I'll have a 1.8 inch 200 PB hard disk for $35 twelve years from now."

        Nah. By then we'll be storing all that data on a human hair. Somehow.

    2. John Riddoch

      not in 12 years...

      2010-1988 != 12...

      However, storage growth has been pretty fast over the last 20 years, my first hard drive in 95 was 100MB in a 486, now you can hardly buy a flash drive that small.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    12PB raw, formatted or....Useable storage?

    I take it given this was released by the storage vendor (who know doubt gave a realy good price to be able to announce such things) that this is raw storage (unformatted for the tweet brigade).

    So formating and some relliance/redundancy, it soon dwindles. Still this years 3D releases alone will eat that up in no 4D(time).

    All that said Apple have always been pioneering the just in time approach and with the cost of storage always going down, this could only be the start. Time to buy some EMC shares perhaps.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      With EMC's DMX/VMAX arrays you specify the drives sizes for capacity, unformatted. I'd imagine this would be the same.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    For those of you who don't know Isilon:

    They probably bought NL-Series (which are blue, by the way). Each node contains up to 72TB. Divide 12PB by 72TB, that's about 167 nodes. At 3U each, I'd estimate that this would take approx. 20 racks full allowing for some space left over in the racks. My semi-educated ballpark estimate is around $10million.

    Two nice things about Isilon is that it uses an Infiniband backbone (48Gb/s) to shuffle data around behind the scenes, and that it puts all these nodes into one GIANT file system (as opposed to other schemes where you have tons of mount points to deal with). Each node has dual-gig ports for mounting the entire cluster. Do the math on this and you have 333Gb/s potential throughput. This is definitely a good thing if they are thinking about cloud-streaming all that music.

    Overall, Isilon is a great choice for something of this magnitude.

  9. Steen Hive

    Obviously for a tracking database

    To keep intimate personal data on all those people who somehow managing to "violate" a warranty.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    Hope they're backing it up somewhere

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Valerion

    Not really that much

    According to my extrememly rough calculations, that doesn't sound like that much really.

    I have a music collection on my HD of about 50GB (not including Video). They could store approx 250,000 music collections the size of mine which, considering the user-base of Apple products, doesn't seem like enough.

  12. Levente Szileszky

    Well, that's 1200TB if I understood correctly...

    ...which is not much, considering most post-houses are well over petabytes in local storage already.

    Well, Steve "Freedom From Porn" Jobs, it's pretty depressing, you really need to come up with something more interesting, even if it's a copycat of someone else as you like to do it, Mr Puritan-in-Chief.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      you didn't understand correctly.

      in the same way that 1TB = 1024 GB

      1PB = 1024TB

      1,200TB is roughly 1.2PB not 12.

      the number that you're looking for is 12,000TB. ~ 12PB

      >>Not really that much #

      >>I have a music collection on my HD of about 50GB (not including Video). They could store approx 250,000 music collections the size of mine which, considering the user-base of Apple products, doesn't seem like enough.

      you've not considered de-duping.

      How many of those 250,000 will have at least 1 of the same track? each track only needs to get stored once, how many people own a copy of some particularly well selling album,

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Along those lines...

        Along similar lines, if this is going to be for the exclusive storage of original iTunes Store bought tracks, why bother even "storing" the customer's music at all - just store the entire iTunes Store library, and have pointers from your user's libraries, to each track they own.

        Storage requirements = the iTunes Store, and a database of pointers.

      2. Levente Szileszky

        Actually I did understand, I just (apparently) couldn't type correctly... :)

        Yes, I meant to write 1200*0*TB, thanks for pointing it out - last zero somehow got eaten by my keyboard at this very early hour. ;)

        Anyway, my point was that it's not really impressive at all, deduping or not, considering PB-sized silos are normal at post/media studios.

  13. Simon Rockman

    100MB That's huge.

    The first hard disk I used was 5Mb shared between four users on Commodore PETs. Each with 96k RAM.

  14. wraith404


    Apple is so 2000 and late. Always playing catch up and copy cat.

    1. hexx
      Thumb Down


      did you come to this conclusion? news is that apple ordered xxxPB of storage but nobody said what it's for, do you know something we don't?

  15. TheOtherHobbbes

    So I'm on the tube

    or the train, or on a plane, and I want to watch a streamed cloudy video...

    But I can't. Because there's either no connection, or no bandwidth.

    Even with a "download and play until expiry" scheme for video, there simply isn't the bandwidth for it on the networks. And there won't be, even with LTE

    So good luck with that plan, Stevie boy.

  16. jubtastic1

    Are those real PB's?

    The full 1024 TB, itself consisting of the full 1024 GB etc or are they helpfully rounded to 1000's like the disks Apple ships in their computers?

    1. O RLY

      Real PB's

      I think you'll find everyone who ships disks uses base-10 numbers for their disk drive sizes, including EMC, so I'd wager this is 12 x10^15 bytes instead of 12 x 2^50 bytes.

      Base-10 gigabytes being what Seagate once told my former employer(a large computer maker) were "marketing gigabytes".

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MobileMe's track record is not 'spotty at best'

    "Its track record on its cloudy MobileMe offering, it must be remembered, has been spotty at best"

    False. I've used MobileMe for years and - apart from a couple of fairly brief blips - it's been a thoroughly excellent service.

  18. AlexH

    Silly promises

    Why on earth would you give shareholders an ETA on a component of an unknown project? They aren't relying on the information to make investment decisions, the only thing that could come out of it would be egg+face if it's late.

    Tell them realistic ETA+50% next time or they'll never be heroes!

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Bad for you






    All want to narrow your choices as to what you can play/run on what OS/HW/device/service.

    We get what we accept.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder...

    I wonder what they're going to use for servers? After all, there is no Apple server class hardware, there is no way that you're going to run a datacentre on mac minis or mac pros. So that suggests that they're going to run other server manufacturers hardware, which they won't allow their own customers to do.


  21. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    To those sayng "that's not much storage"...

    You are assuming that Apple will keep individual copies of every fanbois' material, but what if they're looking at the ultimate dedupe - just one copy (and maybe a mirror) of each media item. You don't need three-million copies of a song, you just make everyone stream the one copy you have on your cloud. Of course, should there be two-dozen fanbois streaming the same Morrisey track at the same time then tough - it takes a bit longer before your player can play it. It wil give you time to practice your Apple-approved Grip Of Non-Death to make sure you're not bridging the aerial on your iBones....

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