ESD: Urban Myth – or Shocking Reality?

-written by Paul Henke, Dataram Memory Blog Team Member

CPUs and memory modules are expensive key components of today’s powerful computers. These components can sustain damage, degradation or destruction due to ESD – electrostatic discharge.  To improve product reliability, prudent electronics manufacturers have employed best practices to manage and eliminate ESD in the supply chain and while manufacturing and handling components.  However, the picture is very different at many end-user sites.

With more IT personnel coming from backgrounds in PC integration, laptop maintenance and overclocking “gaming” environments, there is less awareness—or outright rejection—of using traditional methods to protect delicate electronic components from ESD.

To make matters worse, YouTube contains demo tutorials of technicians plugging electronic components into PCs, workstations and servers without using an ESD wrist strap—the most common item in first line defense against ESD damage.  These videos contribute to the myth that ESD is not occurring, and is therefore not something to worry about.

Remember that semiconductors are made of silicon and silicon dioxide and they do suffer permanent damage when subjected to higher voltages.  Even discharges of as low as 10V can damage certain equipment, and the user doesn’t feel this low level discharge and is unaware that damage has just occurred.  In fact, awareness does not occur until somewhere north of 3000 volts!  This is very different from the wintertime experience of walking across a carpeted floor, then touching the metal door knob and experiencing that memorable “ZAP” spark and shock.  That jolt can be over 20,000 volts!

As an ISO9001 company, Dataram has incorporated and used ESD prevention methods since they were first introduced in electronics manufacturing over 30 years ago.  Quality and reliability are of utmost importance at Dataram, and our memory module manufacturing facilities reflect that commitment.  Since Dataram guarantees DIMMs to work forever in the system—it’s in our best interest to make sure we don’t have to replace more than the expected, so to keep our costs low!!

For the same self-serving reason, IT managers should create an ESD free work area and implement best practices for handling components by all service personnel.  Successfully eliminating ESD damage in your datacenter will enable trouble-free operation of your servers, especially critical CPUs and DIMMs for many years to come!

Server manufacturers HP and IBM have written Support documents outlining Best Practices for the proper handling of server components.  Our Customer Support engineers provide these documents as educational tools when proper handling of DIMMs is the topic of discussion.  If you would like to learn more, send us an email:  And remember, damage from ESD is NOT a myth!

This entry was posted in Memory Posts. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.