05:22 AM

Asian Coal-Fired Smog Is Corroding Server Farms - Intel Concerned

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Above, Anil Kurella, Intel failure analysis engineer, prepares boards for corrosion testing.

That smog that hangs so heavily in the air in China, India, and other countries in Asia isn't just bad for human lungs, it's corroding server boards and connectors and creating a "surprising" amount of damage reports Intel

Sulfur in air pollution from masses of coal-burning power plants is causing damage to server boards which are being returned to Intel. The irony is that the servers are being destroyed by the very same electricity they need to run their computing tasks. The more electric power they consume, the more the pollution gets worse. 

"We are starting to see corrosion on systems (returned to Intel) that are higher than what we would have expected," said Tom Marieb, a vice president in Intel's Technology and Manufacturing Group. "They were disproportionately from Asia-Pacific and it gave us pause. The only other times we had seen this level was from known industrial usage segments like inside a factory, not data centers that are supposed to be controlled, sealed-off environments with air conditioning."

Intel says that it first started to see the problem about two years ago but that it has increased in scope. A combination of high humidity, high temperatures, and air pollution are creating a perfect storm of corrosive damage.

Intel hopes to develop a new set of standards for building server components resistant to air pollution at high humidity and temperatures.