What is the ISO 14644-1 for data centres?

8 January 2020

The history of cleanrooms

During the great technological developments in the 20th century, both during the war and in hospitals, the concept of the cleanroom arose. When developing weapons in England and America, the manufacturers wanted to make a weapon that was reliable. To that end, the environment in which it was made needed to be as clean as possible. Similarly, when operating on patients, the room also needed to be as sterile as possible to prevent infection. This was and still is one of the highest priorities.

Advance to 2019

Fast forwarding to 2019, we see that cleanrooms are still being used. Not only for weapons and hospitals, but also for hundreds of other practices such as dentists, laboratories and technology manufacturers. Particularly at technology companies such as ASML, attention is paid to the particles floating around in the air. After all, if even a small particle ends up on one of the chips, it can cause the entire product to stop working.

ISO standard for permitted numbers of particles

A standard has been established to determine the concentration of particles in the air that is a danger to the products or patients in the room. This is the ISO standard. The ISO standard is divided into 9 classes. The lower the class, the fewer particles may be present in the air (see the table below).

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Source: ISO 14644-1:2015 Table 1 – ISO Classes of air cleanliness by particle concentration

A data centre is also a cleanroom

In fact, a data centre is also a cleanroom. It contains important devices that are sensitive to particles. To ensure that there are not too many harmful substances floating around in the data centre (and thus ending up in the servers), many companies worldwide already comply with ISO standards.

This ISO standard transition from cleanrooms to data centres is relatively new in the Netherlands. Only a few companies use the right techniques to maintain a safe ISO value. This is why THP is specialised in determining the quantity of particles in the air and in reducing the particle concentration to a safe ISO standard: ISO 14644-1 class 8. Internationally, this is the correct classification for a data centre.

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