There is a concern that environmental-contamination caused corrosion may negatively affect Information Technology (IT) equipment reliability. Nineteen data centers in the United States and two in India were evaluated using Corrosion Classification Coupons (CCC) to assess environmental air quality as it may relate IT equipment reliability. The data centers were of two basic types: closed and outside-air cooled. A closed data center provides cool air to the IT equipment using air conditioning in which only a small percent age of the recirculation air is make-up air continuously supplied from outside to meet human health requirements. An outside-air cooled data center uses outside air directly as the primary source for IT equipment cooling. Corrosion measuring coupons containing copper and silver metal strips were placed in both closed and outside-air cooled data centers. The coupons were placed at each data center (closed and outside-air cooled types) with the location categorized into three groups: 1) Outside - coupons sheltered, located near or at the supply air inlet, but located before any filtering, 2) Supply - starting just after initial air filtering continuing inside the plenums and ducts feeding the data center rooms, and 3) Inside located inside the data center rooms near the IT equipment. Each coupon was exposed for thirty days and then sent to a laboratory for a corrosion rate measurement analysis.
The goal of this research was to investigate whether gaseous contamination is a concern for U.S. data center operators as it relates to the reliability of IT equipment. More specifically, should there be an increased concern if outside air for IT equipment cooling is used To begin to answer this question limited exploratory measurements of corrosion rates in operating data centers in various locations were undertaken. This study sought to answer the following questions:
(1) What is the precision of the measurements
(2) What are the approximate statistical distributions of copper and silver corrosion rates in the sampled data centers
(3) To what extent are copper and silver corrosion measurements related
(4) What is the relationship of corrosion rate measurements between outside-air cooled data centers compared to closed data centers
(5) How do corrosivity measurements relate to IT equipment failure rates
The data from our limited sample size suggests that most United States data center operators should not be concerned with environmental gaseous contamination causing high IT equipment failure rates even when using outside-air cooling.
The research team recommends additional basic research on how environmental conditions, specifically gaseous contamination, affect electronic equipment reliability.