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Hardware

Memory Activity LEDs 403

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the pimping-out-your-puter dept.
Azert writes "Since a few months almost every popular memory maker includes heatspreaders with their fastest memory modules. Probably Corsair is setting a new fashion with their new line of memory with memory activity LEDs XMS ProSeries modules feature a row of LED's on the top edge that display real-time memory activity level. Each memory bank has a row of nine dedicated activity LED's that alight as the level of memory activity increases. 512 Mbyte XMS ProSeries modules, with two banks, have a total of 18 activity LED's in green, yellow and red."
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Memory Activity LEDs

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  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:34AM (#6957349)
    ...is that what they mean by 'flash memory'..?
  • ATTENTION (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:35AM (#6957350)
    This room is fullfilled mit special electronische equippment.
    Fingergrabbing and pressing the cnoeppkes from the computers is
    allowed for die experts only! So all the "lefthanders" stay away
    and do not disturben the brainstorming von here working
    intelligencies. Otherwise you will be out thrown and kicked
    anderswhere! Also: please keep still and only watchen astaunished
    the blinkenlights.

  • Useful (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Psx29 (538840)
    Now I can finally tell whether or not my memory is bad!
    • Re:Useful (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jpc (33615)
      reply actually at least you might be able to tell which chip is bad when running memtest. Though my current problem is knowing which one is bad for dual channel chipsets, as I dont know what width they are interleaved on (64 bits?) and how that corresponds to the physical locations.
  • Pong? (Score:5, Funny)

    by danormsby (529805) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:36AM (#6957363) Homepage
    With enough banks of this RAM will the resolution be enough to play Pong?
    • Re:Pong? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by K8Fan (37875)

      You'd need a motherboard with 8 sockets. But I'm sure someone will hack it. Or at least a WinAmp plug-in that will use the RAM LEDs as a spectrum analyzer.

      Someone at Argonne Lab once hacked up a Pong for the LEDs on the front of the Connection Machine.

    • Re:Pong? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CTho9305 (264265) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @12:54PM (#6957811) Homepage
      I realize you're joking (I even found your joke funny), but unfortunately, implementing it would require work at the kernel level. Why? Well, when your program writes to, say, 0x00000000, that "virtual address" actually gets mapped to a different physical address. When your hard drive is thrashing and stuff is being paged in and out of RAM constantly, the physical address for a given virtual address could be changing multiple times per second.

      Now, a kernel patch for the linux VM system that allowed user programs to manipulate the lights (presumably this could be done by having the kernel just reserve 4k from each physical region monitored by each LED and rapidly hit that little bit of memory upon request) would be pretty cool :).
  • by turgid (580780) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:38AM (#6957369) Journal
    Cool! More blinkenlights! :-) Can we have one on the PCI bus too? What about the IDE bus? The USB cable. We alredy have one for the ethernet. Soon we'll be able to have our very own home discos.
  • by Blaine Hilton (626259) * on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:38AM (#6957370) Homepage
    Pretty soon it will be odd to not have a modded computer. It seems many companies are adding whiz-bang lights and windows on the computers so that people don't even have to pull out a Dremel any more.
  • kind of neat (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FuzzyBad-Mofo (184327) <fuzzybad@nOSPaM.gmail.com> on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:40AM (#6957393)

    At first thought, these seem to be little more than the typical "type-r" enhancements like neon lights in the case, ect. How many users have a transparent case anyway? But this could actually be useful for diagnostics.

    • It would be better if you could software select which colour led flashed for each location range, so you could colour buffer cache, code etc.
      • Because of virtual memory, that wouldn't actually work without access to the page table, which would be highly invasive (and operating system dependent). With virtual memory, a given virtual address doesn't always correspond to the same physical address.
  • by AntiOrganic (650691) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:40AM (#6957403) Homepage
    I might as well just build my computer case from a 1997 Honda Civic hatchback with an 8-inch exhaust, 2-foot wing spoiler, blue turn signals and green neons under the car.

    What is wrong with people who buy this crap? It's so gaudy. Oh my god, LEDs! That's so cool!

    Case modders have the attention spans of 3-year-olds who hit every button in the elevator.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:51AM (#6957479)
      I used to think people did this stuff because there was some sense of uniqueness, or some artistic effort going into making something you own a bit more 'you', but after seeing a friend of my cousin's effort of copying to the last detail 3 cases from magazines, it makes me wonder.

      What made me realise he's an idiot was seeing his latest one. A window, neon lights galore, an Alien skull on the front with LEDs in the eyes, and the text "Case Mod" across the side. I mean wtf. Even Type-R Honda owners don't write "body kit" on their cars.

      Or do they. Maybe I'm out of touch.
      • by AntiOrganic (650691) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:54AM (#6957492) Homepage
        Thanks for reminding me, I need my "AMD Racing" bumper sticker printed up.
    • "Case modders have the attention spans of 3-year-olds who hit every button in the elevator."

      Actually, you'd be surprised at the attention the average 3 year old has...:-)

      -Adam
    • Case modders have the attention spans of 3-year-olds who hit every button in the elevator.

      Maybe, but that's still a pretty fucking tall 3 year old.

  • XMS? EMS? (Score:4, Funny)

    by sonicattack (554038) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:41AM (#6957405) Homepage
    512 Mbyte XMS ProSeries modules

    I want a 512 Mbyte LIM ProSeries module goddamit!
    • EMS/XMS memory thats one nightmare I did n't want to be reminded off.. expanded and extended memory I'd almost forgotten.
      • Re:Oh my (Score:5, Funny)

        by sonicattack (554038) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:56AM (#6957503) Homepage
        EMS/XMS memory thats one nightmare I did n't want to be reminded off.. expanded and extended memory I'd almost forgotten.

        Nightmare? Can't you remember the pure joy of upgrading your emm386.exe to Quarterdecks ultra-super-space-saving QEMM386, watching "Optimize" do its trick (three reboots, right?) and having saved another forty kilobytes of precious low memory, raising your fist to the sky screaming yeeeaaaaaahhh! ?

        Well, I can! I can remember my jaw dropping and drool gushing out when the same Quarterdeck QEMM386 (May God be merciful upon its memory) rebooted my lovely DOS in less than 5 seconds, thanks to the awesome Quarterdeck Quickboot!
        • Re:Oh my (Score:5, Interesting)

          by msgmonkey (599753) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @12:20PM (#6957639)
          Whilst QEMM386 was good you could still get some extra goodness out of emm386.exe. I used to work in a pc repair/upgrade shop, you could sometimes see a customers tears of joy when I used to knock out my "signature" EMM386 line in the config.sys after spending they spent the whole pervious evening trying to get the required 614k to get some game working. The trick was (if I remember correctly) adding /I=B000-B7FFF to 32K more "upper" memory since that memory area was only used for monochrome video cards.. that was nearly 9 years ago, man I cant believe I remember all this crap.
          • Why didn't I ever think of that? I used the C000- video area from time to time when I was only using text mode (aah, nothing like 704k of DOS memory), but why didn't I enable this?

            GAAAAAH!

            *bangs head*

            There, better now. Where was I? Ohyes, I need another 512M to play PlanetSide better...
          • The trick was (if I remember correctly) adding /I=B000-B7FFF to 32K more "upper" memory since that memory area was only used for monochrome video cards..

            And even then, you couldn't get MSCDEX to load in it, because it took up more than 32K before it went resident (at just over 28K, IIRC). So I wrote a little utility package (2 TSRs and 2 drivers) that let you 'borrow' memory from the color text area at B8000-BFFFF, then recall the 'loan' after the transient part was returned to the OS.

            I released tha

  • by teqo (602844) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:41AM (#6957406) Journal
    Now, will case modders with transparent cases have to face a new optical tempest problem (beware, PDF link!) [applied-math.org]? (People being able to sniff potentially critical data through analyzing LED blinking, that is...)
  • What in the hell is a "heatspreader"?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:41AM (#6957415)
    I know there was talk a year or so ago about some routers/modems which flashed their LEDs not just on receipt of a packet, but flashed them in accordance with the data contained in the packets, and reading that flashing would enable someone away from the machine without physical access to read the contents of data transferred

    Is this the same? Would it be possible to read the contents of what's written to memory as it's written? I'm sure even when a password is encrypted it is, at some stage, moved into RAM as a plaintext piece of information. Could this be read? Are LEDs fast enough to transmit this information?
  • Make it blink! Then all those nerds with 1.5GB of memory will forsake all sense and buy 1.5GB MORE memory just so it blinks!

    Brilliant!

    Ben
  • AIDS! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mrpuffypants (444598) *
    To quote the lovely Tina Fey:

    "Hey! That's great! Lights on my RAM! Oh, hey, scientists: CANCER! AIDS! Let's put the blinkenlights on the RAM on the backburner and try to eradicate cancer and AIDS first!"

    It is pretty cool, though...
    • > "Hey! That's great! Lights on my RAM! Oh, hey, scientists: CANCER! AIDS! Let's
      > put the blinkenlights on the RAM on the backburner and try to eradicate cancer
      > and AIDS first!"

      Why would an engineer who knows about either memory integrated circuit design, or LED physics, know jack all about anything bio or medical?

      Matter of fact, I'd prefer the chip designers to stay the hell away from my body thank you. If i wanted my body mucked with, I'd go to a doctor who knows what the hell he is doing wit
  • Actual Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by terradyn (242947) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:44AM (#6957428) Homepage
    The site actually links most of its information from [H]ard|OCP [hardocp.com]. Search for "[H]ardNews 8th Edition" to find the relevent article with pictures.

    Mirror Below

    I have just received some more information about Corsair his new line of memory. The XMS ProSeries memory is basically the same as their XMS series memory, with a better heatsink and an integrated memory activity meter.

    Corsair Memory, today announced the ProSeries, a new series of ultra-performance modules in their highly awarded XMS module family. XMS ProSeries modules offer the same extreme performance XMS modules are known for, but also incorporate two essential new features: an all-new heatsink designed for optimum thermal efficiency, and memory activity LED's.

    Corsair's new high-efficiency heatsink was custom designed especially for the XMS ProSeries. It is crafted from cast aluminum to offer excellent thermal qualities. Its mini fins maximize air surface contact area to draw heat away from the memory chips and dissipate it more quickly. The heatsink, which is bonded to the memory chips with a unique thermal adhesive, is embossed with bold "XMS" lettering on both sides of the module. On the top edge of the heatsink are windows to the activity LED's.

    XMS ProSeries modules feature a row of LED's on the top edge that display real-time memory activity level. Corsair is the first company to ever offer an activity meter on the module itself. Corsair invented this feature for the growing legions of enthusiasts and gamers who use windowed chassis, so they can tell at a glance the current level of memory activity. Each memory bank has a row of nine dedicated activity LED's that alight as the level of memory activity increases. 512 Mbyte XMS ProSeries modules, with two banks, have a total of 18 activity LED's in green, yellow and red.

    According to Corsair President Andy Paul, "The XMS ProSeries further extends Corsair's leadership in high performance module design. We combined the most efficient and stylish heatsink in the industry with never-before-seen activity monitoring features and XMS's legendary performance to deliver what will soon become the de facto standard memory module for gamers and enthusiasts."

    The following XMS Pro Series modules and module pairs are available immediately from resellers worldwide: - TwinX1024-4000PRO - matched pair of 512MB, DDR500 modules - TwinX1024-3200C2PRO - matched pair of 512MB, DDR400 modules - CMX512-4000PRO - 512MB, DDR500 module - CMX512-3200C2PRO - 512MB, DDR400 module

    Looks pretty cool I think, but on the other side I do not really think that many users will really have any benefit from memory acitivity LEDs on their memory modules. But it sure looks cool..
  • ooh, all the pretty lights....
  • activity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:48AM (#6957461)
    What is meant by 'activity?' Size of memory usage, bandwidth usage, amount of power it's drawing?
  • This hearkens back (Score:5, Interesting)

    by earthforce_1 (454968) <earthforce_1 AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:49AM (#6957468) Journal

    To the 1950's, 1960's, and early '70s where computers had rows and rows of blinking lights and switches Anywbody remember the PDP 11's? Or the early Altairs?

    Now we just need an excuse to add dozens of little toggle switches to the side of the case.
    • To the 1950's, 1960's, and early '70s where computers had rows and rows of blinking lights and switches Anywbody remember the PDP 11's? Or the early Altairs?

      Just about every computer made then had the lights and switches. There are those of us who remember keying in programs using switches on front panels. The difference was that those lights served an actual purpose -- other than pimping up a computer. It was possible to single-step through a program using those lights and switches. One could examine
      • Hmm.. A crank on a modern car would be very useful when you battery is dead. Perhaps a PC should have a front panel for single-stepping a crashed OS. Seeing how they can make an $20 handheld chess game with programmable logic, one could have an equivalent of debug.exe running on a front panel LCD and completely independent of the main CPU.
        • by fmaxwell (249001)
          Hmm.. A crank on a modern car would be very useful when you battery is dead.

          Not really. If the battery is truly dead, there won't be anything to supply spark, power the electronic fuel injection, electric fuel pump, etc. It's not like the old days of magnetos and carbs.

          Perhaps a PC should have a front panel for single-stepping a crashed OS.

          Ignoring all of the technical ramifications of doing this with a modern PC, one major obstacle is the complexity of modern operating systems and applications. B
  • by MP3Chuck (652277) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:54AM (#6957493) Homepage Journal
    What good are LED's unless you've got a clear case mod ... or no case?
  • Encouraging emi/rfi? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by v1 (525388) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:55AM (#6957495) Homepage Journal
    With all the case modding going on, I wonder how much though has been put into the interferance being generated by all the clear cases that are around today? There's a reason computer cases normally come as a solid sheet of metal. It's called a "faraday cage", (sp?) and is used to keep the nasty interferance generated by today's high speed systems inside the case.

    Most stock case systems come complete with rows of metal "fingers" along the edges where sheets meet, and where the ports mesh against the back of the case, etc., to keep emi/rfi from leaking out. I'm assuming all of this bother is to keep the case within FCC regulations for generating interferance.

    I wonder just how much interferance a typical "clear case" system generates to the surrounding area? Has anyone here at /. ran across any studies or sampling done on computer-generated interferance?
    • by dissy (172727) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @12:10PM (#6957582)
      I do know that about 2 out of 5 systems I have ran accrost in the past three or four years has come in plastic cases with no metal shielding what so ever as part of the case.

      While I can't say anything useful on your origonal question, I can say that its been around as a potential problem for many many more years than case modding has been main stream.

      BTW, i've never heard any complaints about the plastic cases being made in the past few years, so I'd guess not much interfearance happens, or not enough to report to anyone.

      I would also guess a modded case that is mostly metal is still better at blocking signals than a normal plastic case, and of course more than a modded plastic case, even if not as well as an unmodded metal case.

      I personally have only modded one metal case, and I did not cut the metal in any way to do it.
      I've also run systems with no case what so ever for long periods of time (My 3rd BBS was a motherboard hung on my wall) and never noticed any problems that could be from RF interfearance.
    • ive run without covers on my cases for a decade now
    • I don't want my computer to take 15 seconds to open one file, be down a day every week and require a full-time administrator for 5 users. I assume a typical ClearCase system has EMF emission of a nuclear blast, because it sure has a similar effect on productivity.

      How about a nice CVS mod?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:56AM (#6957504)
    What next? An LED that displays hard drive activity?
  • I want XMS with ECC (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DigiShaman (671371) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:58AM (#6957513) Homepage
    Forget LEDs, I want high performance memory in ECC (unbuffered). That way, I can over clock the memory untill bit errors are detected, then back up on the over clocking. It would sure beat the hell out of tweaking untill you BSOD.
  • by feidaykin (158035) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @11:59AM (#6957522) Journal
    Anyone else like how the old BeBoxes had LED bars showing the CPU usage?

    I tell ya thems were the days sonny. It was always good to see my CPU usage back then... it helped relieve some of the stress of having to walk to school, uphill both ways, every day of the week, too, none of this "weekday" crap. That's how it was and WE LIKED IT, WE LOVED IT!

  • We've been trying to figure out for months how to make our data center more impressive when we take PHB's there on tours. This sounds like just the ticket!

    Everyone knows that you can tell the speed and worth of a server based on the number of blinking lights on the front of the display. Moving our switches up higher in the rack so that they were more visible did us a ton of good. Sounds like this whole memory lights thing may be the killer app that lets us charge for data center tours now!
  • by Dark Lord Seth (584963) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @12:03PM (#6957545) Journal

    Seriously, is this aimed at professional people who can use it for system diagnostics? Or is it aimed at the happy 12 year old $random_famous_brand_name fanatics who think that a prefab window, along with prefab water cooling with prefab fanguards and of course the hideously bright blue LEDs?*

    *) With proper respect to true case modders, as featured on Slashdot before.

    • by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @12:14PM (#6957609) Homepage Journal
      the latter.

      the one that have much cash kind of latter.

      besides, what good diagnose can you get from these? if you intend to use a known faulty pair of ultra expensive memory(through somehow mapping the faulty area out of use, iirc there's a patch for linux for this) what's the point in buying ultra expensive showoff memory in the first place? and for knowing if it's faulty i'd think there's a lot of better ways than to look at some activity leds.

  • Reverse Trend (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alakon (657771) <spam@paradoxpoetry.com> on Sunday September 14, 2003 @12:05PM (#6957558)
    Great-- I will now have a gigantic machine with rows and rows of blinking lights. Why the hell do we need this again?
    • The LEDs aren't bright enough!

      Soon, RAMmodding will be all the rage. Get them really big, bright LEDs installed on the RAM.

      And think of the gaming advantages, if you have bright enough LEDs, and can write an app to control them, you can flash them at the frequencies that induce seizures. Think of it! You can mess with other players at the LAN party and gain a tactical advantage as your opponents lay twitching and drooling by their computers.
  • ..Pretty Lights.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by phuturephunk (617641)
    Being a visual-spatial person I'd have to say this is a pretty good idea. As far as we've come we pretty much still like to look at the 'pretty lights', yano? Some kind of indicator that what we've built is actually doing something. Helps to bridge the gap between our fascination with machinery and the circutry that we build, which inherantly doesn't inspire the awe of say..an industrial sized crane, because of its lack of moving parts.

    People like to 'see' an indicator that what they've built is actually w
  • i'll wait (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2003 @12:20PM (#6957642)
    i'm waiting till my 512MB chip has 536,870,912 lights on it...not gonna buy it any sooner...
  • by Chicane-UK (455253) <.moc.dlrowltn. .ta. .ku-enacihc.> on Sunday September 14, 2003 @12:39PM (#6957728) Homepage
    Well I think that was one of the versions that had something similar, but for CPU usage. A row of about 5 or 6 LED's used to swish left and right ala Knight Rider at a bit of speed, and as the machine got bogged down with CPU heavy jobs the pattern used to slow right down..

    Or was it the other way round.. I can't remeber. Cool none the less - wouldn't mind something similar to stick into a floppy drive blanking plate :)
  • Oh, fun (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aonifer (64619) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @01:37PM (#6958022)
    • Case with a window on it, with a Quake applique on it.
    • Boards with different, clashing colors.
    • Cables with different, clashing colors (preferrably glow-in-the-dark).
    • LEDs on the fans.
    • LEDs on the memory.
    • Purple flourescent tube.
    • Fan guards shaped like the biohazard symbol.
    You, too can have the tackiest case ever!

    Seriously, I had a hard time finding a case without a window on it. No, I don't need a window; I know it's all in there.

  • by forevermore (582201) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @01:56PM (#6958111) Homepage
    Activity lights are nothing. Relatively useless in the grand scheme of things (except they'd make a wonderful addition to a good case mod)... The new Intel Blade Servers (sorry, no link, they're not released until Tuesday - you might try searching for the IBM ones, since they're pretty much the same hardware) have an LED next to each RAM slot that lights up when the stick dies (there's a capacitor on the board that keeps 30-40 seconds worth of electricity, so the LED's will stay lit up when you remove the blades from the chassis).
  • makes it faster (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zed2K (313037) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @01:57PM (#6958119)
    Cause we all know that the more obnoxious lights and blinking crap you have visible makes your computer run faster. Kinda like placing a Type-R logo on you Honda Civic.
  • by caferace (442) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @01:59PM (#6958130) Homepage
    ...just to keep the LED's cool.

    STOP the Madness!

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Sunday September 14, 2003 @02:02PM (#6958146) Homepage
    It seems to me that there are two kind of people who go in for case modding. On the one hand, you have your causual modders. They like pre-fab windows. Might add a cold cathode light and some round cables. These represent perhaps the majority.

    However, then you have the real "hard core" modders. The kind of people who build their computers in to old radios [bit-tech.net]. The kind of people who want to do some special cooling project, or who want to have a unique case. My personal favorites are the concept cases, and mods that have some practical purpose (like better temperature monitoring for servers etc). They want to be creative. It's not just about pimpage.

    This memory seems to be for members for the first catagory.
  • by Bruha (412869) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @02:10PM (#6958184) Homepage Journal
    Seriously case prices have done nothing but go up in the last year or so with many of the vanilla boxes not being stocked anymore. Though I've had my eye on a prefab'd watercooled case for awhile due to the noise levels I still have not seen the prices of it go down where I'd consider it acceptable.

    If you consider the case which retails for maybe 100 dollars and a pump that runs 30 dollars and another 30 for hoses and such I still dont see the point of paying 300 for a case for that amount of silence. And there's still the amount of heat that's being output into the house to deal with. I'm considering installing a duct from the office room to a window or through the wall to pipe all the excess heat out of the house.

    I'm sure I'd make it back on the 300 dollar case by pumping all that hot air back outside except in the winter when I wouldnt mind it being put into the house :)

  • by Ella the Cat (133841) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @02:10PM (#6958189) Homepage Journal
    1024x768 display with shared memory. Hah!
  • by RetroGeek (206522) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @02:42PM (#6958306) Homepage
    The original mainframes and minis had lights which were wired into the CPU registers. You could see what each register was doing by looking at the banks of blinking lights.

    Computer teaching boxen had LED's which were wired into memory locations (you could choose which location via DIP switches). You could tell what each memory location held by looking at the banks of blinking lights.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

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