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The Summer of Popping Power Supplies
Around April 2008, Sierra College (Rocklin, California) had an unusual problem in the datacenter. Nobody remembers exactly when and how it started, but server power supplies began failing in unusual numbers and patterns. The senior system administrator remembers hearing “pop pop pop,” perhaps a second apart, followed by the acrid smell of charred electronics. On investigation, the staff discovered that three power supplies in three adjacent racks had failed. Thus began a period of travail that some College staff find painful to remember.