Computing on the Edge: Physical Protections Testing


This blog series is a review of the specifications and design methodology required to create compute platforms that can be deployed into Edge Telecom Environments.

The goal of GR-63-CORE, Physical Protections, is to increase network availability and lower the overall costs of installation and maintenance of network equipment. It primarily addresses thermal, humidity and altitude levels, transportation and storage, seismic activity and vibration, flame resistance, air filtration and noise.

There are other criteria associated with physical design, describing dimensions, weight, cable management, mounting options, among others. But these are static measurements that are performed without any additional testing.

In addition, the packaging of the device is also tested to verify that the packaging can withstand the typical physical shock and drops that may be encountered in shipping.

Thermal, Humidity and Altitude

These requirements and tests provide the operational ranges, both normal and short term, where the networking equipment must operate. For NEB Level 3, the temperature and humidity requirements are:

NEB Level 3 temperature and humidity requirements.
Table 1 – Operating Environmental Ranges

Total test time, for different combinations of temperature and humidity, takes place over a contiguous six day period. Pass/Fail for these tests, running an active processing load, is a fully functional device with no observable damage or reduction in performance.

Transportation and Storage

These tests attempt to simulate the extremes of shipping equipment for storage or installation, assuming some extreme ranges of temperature and humidity, accompanied by rapid changes in temperature, or thermal shock. This could, for example, simulate equipment leaving a temperature-controlled warehouse in Minneapolis, in January, or Phoenix, in July. In both cases, the equipment could transition from a relatively comfortable environment to that of extreme cold or heat in a short period of time.

Thresholds for low and high exposure to environmental ranges.
Table 2- Transportation Environmental Ranges

Similar tests are performed for rapid humidity shifts, from a base 50 percent to 93% RH over a 23°C (73°F) to 40°C (104°F) temperature range and set rate changes and durations. Again, these simulate the environmental challenges found in shipping electronic equipment from factory/warehouse to installation.

Highly Accelerated Life Test (HALT) chamber in use.
Highly Accelerated Life Test (HALT) chamber in use.

Pass/Fail for these tests is a fully functional device once the unit is returned to the operational temperature/humidity range and powered up.

For these first two categories, testing is typically performed in a Highly Accelerated Life Test (HALT) chamber. This chamber allows for testing in a range of temperature, humidity and barometric pressure (altitude). Its purpose is to speed the discovery of latent defects in manufacturing during the production stages of a product life cycle to reduce associated failures, or more simply put, discovering potential weak links of a product.

Seismic and Vibration

Seismic testing…

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