Apple has ordered as much as 12 petabytes worth of data storage from EMC unit Isilon Systems, according to an inside source cited by StorageNewsletter. The order supposedly coincides with the upcoming release of a new product that Isilon is expected to announce next week.

Such a large order for data storage may be being made for the construction of Apple's huge data center in Maiden, North Carolina. This new building is expected to be the hub for a new version of iTunes that relies on storing media in the cloud, rather than having customers use their own HDDs. The main focus will be for storing video content, rather than music, which is why so much storage is required.

1 petabyte (PB) is equivalent to 1,000 terabytes (TB), or 1,000,000 gigabytes (GB). In other words, Apple has reportedly ordered 12 million gigabytes worth of storage. To give you an idea of how much this is, a single-layer DVD has a capacity of 4.7GB, so 12PB would be able to hold almost 212,766 DVDs.

Rumors have been flying around for a while now that Apple is working on its own digital locker for cloud-based storage of media and content. Just like Google's and Amazon's offerings, the service would allow users to access content they purchased from a centralized server.

Founded in 2001 in Seattle, Washington, Isilon designs and sells clustered storage systems and software for digital content. EMC, which announced its intention to acquire Isilon for $2.25 billion in late 2010, said it would use the storage infrastructure technology to support cloud computing services.