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Hardware Hacking

Adding Pizazz to Your RAM 248

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the but-i-wanted-chutzpah dept.
EliteTEK noted that Extreme Tech is running a review of some fancy new illuminated DDR RAM. This one actually has a 10 char alphanumeric display that normally displays stats on your system, but with their software can display anything you like. It's about time that people can read RSS feeds on their RAM.
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Adding Pizazz to Your RAM

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  • Hungry? (Score:4, Funny)

    by cloudmaster (10662) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:31AM (#11320291) Homepage Journal
    At first, I thought "Why woudl my RAM want Pizzas?" Then I read the article, and I still thought "Why?"...
    • Re:Hungry? (Score:2, Funny)

      by DingerX (847589)
      I understand if you order 4 gigs of that, a neon case light, a backlit keyboard, and a digital readout cooling fan display you get a free copy of "2Fast 2Furious" and the opportunity to appear on the hit new reality show "Who would want to date an IT Redneck?"
    • Re:Hungry? (Score:3, Funny)

      by zakezuke (229119)
      "Why woudl my RAM want Pizzas?"

      Rather than using a heat sync you use your RAM to cook micro pizzas. The heat is dissipated and consumed by the user in the form of 7mm circular pizzas. Betty Crocker eat your heart out.

      • Oooooh, it could cook those little McDonald's pizzas that they had a few years back. It could fit into a 5 1/4 slot and everything!
      • Rather than using a heat sync you use your RAM to cook micro pizzas. The heat is dissipated and consumed by the user in the form of 7mm circular pizzas. Betty Crocker eat your heart out.


        Well, something close to this has been done, only on car engines [amazon.com]. The book's out of print, unfortunately, and you'll have to pay almost $50 for a used copy ;-(

        With the power dissipation of processors these days, they can easily play a toast-r-oven to your six cylinder's stove.
      • Re:Hungry? (Score:2, Informative)

        by alhaz (11039)
        I know this is going to come as a shock to all of you, but dynamic ram doesn't get hot. It doesn't need a heat sink or heat spreader.

        Technically, dynamic ram doesn't even consume electricity, let alone dissipate it as heat. The power consumption of the actual memory cells is essentially zero.

        The row and collumn drivers do consume some small amount of power, and in theory, a 'heat spreader' would help even out the temperature across the chip.

        Except, remember, this is dynamic ram, which means that every ro
      • Rather than using a heat sync you use your RAM to cook micro pizzas. The heat is dissipated and consumed by the user in the form of 7mm circular pizzas. Betty Crocker eat your heart out.

        Yeah. Makes sense. I have two Athlon 2500 or greater machines at home running 24x7.

        I should cook an average of, what, 1 pizza every two minute/machine -- so 30 pizzas/hr/machine x 2 machines x 24hrs/day x 365 days/year giving me about .... carry the one , add the two ... something like 525,600 pizzas/year.

        Makes perfect

    • Why woudl my RAM want Pizzas

      With RAM prices so silly I have been buying pizzas and not RAM. It is myself that wants the pizza and a 1GB RAM stick buys a lot of pizza.

  • by EvilStein (414640) <spam@@@pbp...net> on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:33AM (#11320311) Homepage
    For those of you that just cannot get enough bling bling... we bring to do, "Das blinken RAM!"
  • We need more blinky lights(functional or not). That way we can retro-ize our computers to look like big glitzy units shown on 1980s Tv shows and movies. Sign me up!
    • What we need is a huge panel of lights, say a meter square, which plugs into the memory bus without IDing itself as memory and changes the pattern of lights based on the pattern of address access.

      Computers have never looked like REAL computers since they didn't have that kind of thing on the front panel.

      Add a hacked reel-to-reel tape deck which swiches back and forth in time to system activity, and perhaps some magnisium wiring set to go bang and emit sparks whenever there is a small error and we'd be b

      • My computer needs to make more internal "beep boop boop beep" noises.
        • My computer needs to make more internal "beep boop boop beep" noises.

          That's easy, get a radio nearby it and set it to an unused frequency. It was always fun to hear my TI-99/4A make all sorts of fun noises(not exactly of the beep boop beep variety) when I was doing various operations.

          One just might be able to make music out of it. I think it was done once.
    • Well yes, but what's wrong with those people ? They put the blinkenlights on the inside !

      Idiots.
    • We need more blinky lights(functional or not). That way we can retro-ize our computers to look like big glitzy units shown on 1980s Tv shows and movies.

      Who was paying attention to the lights?

      What we really need is Erin Grey from Buck Rogers standing next to our computers in her skintight, shiny blue flightsuit.

      Screw the lights! I want a space disco with slave girls.

  • I have never had a case where I could actually see the RAM very well. It's useually hidden in behind cables (which a case modder would have fixed) and behind drives. Not to mention that it stands up in the RAM slots, so that the face of the RAM isn't even viewable.

    It would be cool if there were a case with RAM mounted in the front (like in a drive bay) and had a window that showed through into the "RAM bay", I could see a lot of modders liking that, but the latency from the bay to the MoBo seems like it w
    • um... and in that case, why does the display need to be on the RAM? Why not just put a display in the front of your case?
    • Looking at the pictures - I know this is slashdot and no one will have looked at the pictures yet - the display seems to be mounted on top of a plastic case sorrounding the RAM rather than on the chips themselves. Not that I didn't think it was a con when I openned the article, but this is just a plastic LCD display stuck on top of a RAM module. Why would anyone...
  • Advertisement? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LoverOfJoy (820058) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:36AM (#11320356) Homepage
    Which company will be the first to put ads on that thing?
  • Joy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by behindspace (847527) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:37AM (#11320365) Homepage Journal
    Like we don't have enough power consumption problems already... For a decent gaming system we need a 450watt+ power supply, now with nVidia's requirements of a couple free power dongles and the massive storage capacity of the new hard drives, we need more power then ever... it won't be long until 1000 watt power supplies are standard in your e-machines POS paperweight boxes... I don't get it, what's the point in wasting precious power to have your RAM say somethign like "I R teh 1337 h4xx0r" But maybe that's just me...
    • by jpmkm (160526)
      If a few little lights on the memory is going to cause power problems or make someone upgrade their power supply, then there is something else wrong and it was time to upgrade anyway. The power draw of the lights is completely insignificant compared to everything else in a computer.
    • Oh come on, how much do those few LEDs consume? Anyway, the PS might be 450w but this doesn't mean the computer consumes that much, maybe about 150 idle and 250 under load [techreport.com]. And how exectly more hard drive space results in higher power reqs?
      I still think putting flashing LEDs on RAM is stupid, but don't really care what other people do with their computers so I don't bitch about it.
    • Seriously this thing couldn't possibly use more than 1 watt.
  • REAL Nerds... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79&gmail,com> on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:37AM (#11320368) Homepage
    ...don't give a shit about case mods and flourescent lights and blinky RAM, just like how real car enthusiasts don't adorn piece-of-shit imports with stickers and tacky wings. It's all about what's under the hood, not how pretty it looks on the outside.

    People who waste money on this nonsense should be ridiculed by us proud, genuine nerds.
    • ...don't give a shit about case mods and flourescent lights and blinky RAM, just like how real car enthusiasts don't adorn piece-of-shit imports with stickers and tacky wings. It's all about what's under the hood, not how pretty it looks on the outside. People who waste money on this nonsense should be ridiculed by us proud, genuine nerds.

      Damn straight. I did succumb to the case modding frenzy a couple of years ago and cut open one of my old PCs (P2 with a Voodoo2 card). While the modding work was rathe

      • I would think that cases with a window on the side and a switchable light is within the bounds of good taste and certainly not ricing, nor is adding extra fan mounts.

        Either that, or turn the case into a work of art, instead of a bunch of blinking crap. I know there are very good mods out there with actual themes, and those are acceptable too.
    • by P-Frank (788137) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:43AM (#11320434) Homepage

      I agree with you to a point, the functionality of my PC is what comes first. But looking at the aesthetic of Apple computers and the growing amount of pretty cases out there, people want their appliances to look nice, or at least not look completely out of place in their homes.

      Now there are some pretty ugly cases out there, giant flashing LED monstrocities with bad car paintjobs and racing stripes, but some people are making interactive sculptures that have computers inside them and I don't think that's negative at all.

      • by TomorrowPlusX (571956) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @10:34AM (#11320956)
        But that's the difference between *style* and gaudiness.

        Apples have style. They're like a well dressed man in a nice suit. or a ( car-analogy ) BMW. Restrained, not fancy -- but impressive.

        The gamer machines are like one of those overweight jersey guys in shiny velour jogging suits or some sort of football team jersey; they're covered in gold chains and have so much gel in their hair that the specular highlights are visible from space. Or, conversely, like a ricer honda. All cheap rims, spoilers and stickers. Absolutely tasteless.

        There's a difference.
        • You're putting too many people in to one group. I have a "gamer machine" and the case is a Thermaltake VA3000 and it is beautiful. There are two blue LEDs for a soft accent in the front and the rest is a nice black case. There are a lot of nice cases out there. You just happen to have seen the god awful ones.
        • Not everyone goes overboard. I am slowly replacing green lights with blue leds and orange with red, because I don't like green or orange. Beige boxes I have I painted. Solid colours, a red one, purple, black, blue, they look a lot niceer now which is important because many of them are visable and I am around them most of the time I'm at home.

          Not everyone who makes changes to their cases makes it look like they crapped all over it. These ram things look stupid though.
    • Re:REAL Nerds... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MindStalker (22827)
      Guess it depends upon how serious you want to take the art. The guys who develop unique moddifications have some serious skills. Same as the guys who develop serious case mods. Case in point the HyperCube [bit-tech.net]
      and its Building log [bit-tech.net]
      Thats serious artwork.
    • I'd say that some nerds may go so far as to do both. I'd even say that some do it because they find it personally amusing that so many do so and want to have more opportunity to make sometimes not so subtle digs by having the subject brought up to them.

      You know, like:
      "Hey nice case Bob."
      "Thanks, the lights I put in there give it an extra 100 MHz!"

      And you'll also have a hard time convincing me that car enthusiasts don't care about looks. Their cars are loved more than people. They get routine wash, wax, and

    • I agree.
      It's a computer, not a chrismas tree
      • I sleep in the same room as my computer (and my wife, to you losers out there who want to make rude comments) ... having *no* lights on it would be very nice.

        First thing I did with my new Antec Sonata [mikebabcock.ca] was disconnect the front blue lights. Not that I don't like sleeping in a room that is illuminated like a porn set, its just a little distracting for actual sleep.

        A nice "lights off" switch would be a good hack, come to think of it ... on an activity timer, so after not using the PC for 15 minutes or so, al
        • First thing I did with my new Antec Sonata was disconnect the front blue lights.

          Considering you have to hook the lights up in the first place, I doubt it was the first thing you did...OTOH, I've been curious about hooking the lights up to one of the "Fan Only" voltage regulated plugs on the PS - get some cool brightening/dimming effects depending on load. Maybe I'll try that when I get home this evening...
          • I tried it -- no go. The lights are LEDs -- pretty much fixed output levels.

            And I connected the lights when I set it up, but then shut them off after having tried to sleep with them on.
    • Nah, just a different subculture.

      To be a nerd, you have to care passionately about something, anything, that the majority of people can't see the point in.
    • I agree. I recently did a case mod, but it was in the opposite direction of most. I got (for free) a dual-Pentium Compaq server from work. I gutted it, and built my PC in it. The thing is massive, steel, and ugly. But it is quiet and cool. There is tons of room inside for when I need to get in there, there is tons of air-flow. It is quiet because it is thick steel, not tinny aluminum. I mounted my hard drives in the SCSI trays, and just removed the backplane so I could hook them up.

      I think it is

    • Re:REAL Nerds... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SuperBanana (662181)

      No, REAL nerds have workstations that came from the FACTORY with blinky lights for everything!

      (old HP workstations has memory bank, cpu heartbeat, network, etc indicators on the front bezel. Also, the BeBox had LED cpu graphs up the side. Let's not forget the Cray units with the big red LED boards showing memory status...)

      Oh, and an aside- I imagine a Beowulf cluster of these would be necessary to read a webpage.

      • Don't forget the Connection Machines. They had at least one face that was just a bunch of red LEDs. They were mentioned and were in the background of Jurassic Park.
      • I've got an IMSAI 8080, still the best looking computer ever built, that I've been meaning to hook up some way so a modern computer can make interesting use of the lights and the switches can be put to use...

    • ...don't give a shit about case mods and flourescent lights and blinky RAM, just like how real car enthusiasts don't adorn piece-of-shit imports with stickers and tacky wings. It's all about what's under the hood, not how pretty it looks on the outside.

      No, real nerds never keep the same hardware together inside the same box long enough to bother with making it pretty. Real real nerds never even bother to close up the case. (I used to be a real real nerd, but then I got old. I'm even typing this on...

    • Wings? And all this time I thought they were stealing park benches.
  • Memory Slots (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bradphan (848544)
    Why would I want to buy memory that eats up 2 slots of space for a single chip. Seem they would have to tier the LED modules in order to utilize all of the memory slots.
    • Re:Memory Slots (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WaterBreath (812358)
      These things are so stinking huge that a regular stick will probably fit under the overhang.

      But I do agree. A lot of this modding stuff seems like a waste of time and money to me. Unless you're just going completely all out and creating a real piece of art, like the Hypercube^2 guy at bit-tech.net. Obviously a lot of the hardware in that thing he's going to be stuck with because of all the custom-built fittings. But it's still a piece of art with an aesthetic value completely separate from it's functio
    • This LED display unit simply fits onto a pin configuration on top of the XPERT memory stick. Obviously you see that the display extends over one side of the memory stick. The display is configured so that you can move it to extend over either edge of the memory stick. Of course on most motherboards that use a 2x2 DIMM configuration, you will only be able to install two display units, not that you would need more anyway.

      The height of the display unit should ensure that you can still install four sticks of m

  • No offense to any of you clear-side-panel, rounded cable, enthusiasts out there, but isn't tricking out your computer a little bit like ... you know what, no, I'm not even going there. So, I assume you'll all be racing in your Civics with the coffee-can exhaust and Type 2 stickers to the store to pick up these bad-boy memory sticks. I hear they add 4 Mhz.
    • Thanks for saving me the trouble of posting essentially the same message.

      A PC is just not a work of art, sorry. The best boxen are the ones that are silently, cooly, tucked out of the way somewhere.

      Why does it sometimes seem that an entire generation has just discovered a 30 year old piece of technology (LEDs) and now feels compelled to put them EVERYWHERE remote'y near a DC power source?

      I saw some RAM advertised yesterday that had 16 LEDs on the top that went around in a chase pattern, and it also had
      • Agreed. At the rate we're going, computers will eventually become one large LED surrounded by other LEDs flashing in various patterns for no apparent reason on than the fact it's possible to do so.
  • Review? (Score:4, Informative)

    by publius1234 (615205) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:42AM (#11320420)
    Here's an actual review:
    [H]ard|OCP [hardocp.com],

    and here's a better picture:
    Legit Reviews [legitreviews.com]
    • Re:Review? (Score:2, Funny)

      by Otter (3800)
      I like Legit Review's benchmark:

      The Corsair XMS Xpert modules increase the memory bling factor ten fold.

  • ...except it won't be giving you the latest news headlines and sports scores.

    The hell it won't.

    *tappity, tappity, linux scripty*

    There. Scrolling stats on the ever-changing size of Britney's bosom.
  • I remember a boss I had once who was so proud that he built his own pc. He had soldered all the sockets on the board and pressed the chips into the sockets.

    I also remember thinking "That's not building a pc", that's building a kit, so what. I built my second computer (first computer was a kim 1) with wirewrap and and handful of parts on clearance from radio shack (8080 et al).

    PCs are just not truly "hackable" by the average hobbiest anymore. I'm not lamenting the loss, it isn't important. What I'm saying
    • by shitting all over a person's sense of pride in doing something on their own

      so what some are calling "hacking" may not really be hacking as you define it, sure

      but maybe those people are the same people who go on to delve even deeper under the hood and wind up being hackers in the sense you mean it many years later: by following their sense of wonder and curiosity

      and if they ever do arrive there, they won't have your ivory tower holier-than-thou snobbery to thank for that now will they?

      what you should be doing is encouraging other people's curiosity, but instead you stand there and shit on it

      so while you debate what really is the right definition of the word "hacker", i think i've found a new definition in my book of the word "asshole"
    • > I also remember thinking "That's not building a pc"
      > ...
      > PCs are appliances and talking about how people are "modding" them

      Sort of like games nowadays. Nobody writes them any more. Everyone just mods the ones he buys.
    • PCs are just not truly "hackable" by the average hobbiest anymore.

      Bullshit. They've never been easier; you're dismissing USB, serial, and parallel ports, along with I2C, among other things. All are quite easy to interface with (probably the easiest is parallel, since you can use it as 8+ digital IO lines...with suitable current draw protection of course!)

      I would counter that the development of inexpensive microprocessor systems like the Basic STAMP, the Rabbit, etc which usually have (or come with) li

      • That's hacking together a PC of your own from parts still.

        Its almost "hacking" but by strict definition, I think modding the traces on your motherboard to allow a second AGP slot would be a lot more of a hack.
    • PCs are appliances and talking about how people are "modding" them is about as interesting as talking about how people are "modding" their toasters.

      I love the way you put that. I couldn't agree more.

  • With a big character set, you could do the Matrix scrolling characters through the RAM, which has a certain geeky appeal.

    ASCII porn within your computer, mentioned above, has its appeal, but since you're not likely to have more than, say, four rows by 16 columns, it's pretty low-res even for ASCII art.

    With scrolling, though, it would be sort of an ASCII peephole.
  • Wait til next year when they come out with CameraRam.
  • by Cyn (50070)
    That's like putting a VTEC sticker on the bottom of your muffler.

    It's gay, and it's stupid.
  • I'm sure this will be posted about a hundred times, but what's the point of having a programmable display on the ram?

    Why not have a separate programmable display you can put anywhere? You used to be able to get a programmable LCD display for the Amiga, it plugged into the parallel port and you could use the system's built in scripting to display anything, so you could have the CPU load, available ram, time remaining in your ray-tracer rendering or even the subject of your most recent unread email. Now tha

  • The same idiots probably put huge spoilers on the rears of their front-wheel-drive cars.

  • The reason there's only 10 display characters on the RAM?

    Because DDR songs only go up to 10 feet, silly.
  • It looks just like the led displays on a number of mainframe memory boards from way back.
    I felt so nostalgic that I hooked up my old KSR-33 to type this, but Slashdot's lameness filter kept complaining about all upper-case.
    30

  • What I want to know is, how come I can hardly ever find a store that stocks any RAM faster than PC2700, when the PC I bought over a year ago uses PC3200.

    And when I do find a rare supplier of 3200, why does it still cost $250 per gigabyte, the same price it was in 2003? Are we facing another chip shortage? Have we hit a wall in terms of fabrication capability and efficiency? Is that why RAM manufacturers are turning to case-mod gimmickry to maintain sales instead of real technological advances?
  • by tsangc (177574) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @11:04AM (#11321267)
    Let me add to the string of "I don't get it" replies.

    I get case modding. I understand and appreciate those who try and build beautiful cases, like the Art Deco HTPC or all the cool stuff on Mini-itx.com: It's an artistic or creative pursuit.

    That's great--there will always be people at different levels of any field: There will be engineers at racing and car companies with CFD and simulation, the guy who builds custom hot roads, and the guy who airbrushes artwork on the side of vans. That parallels the people who design supercomputers, or the guy who hand built their first computer out of discrete logic, the guy who builds neat cases. There will also always be the guy who lamely screws on some parts he ordered from the "custom performance" shop. That's fine, we all have different abilities or interests.

    But what I don't understand is all the case mods with the ugly window, the garish neon lights, and the crazy colours. It looks so...crass. Looking for a new case for my PVR, I tried hard to find a case that wasn't ugly. Apparently such cases do not exist for under $100 Canadian.

    Is it me, or are these things just ugly!? Like, a giant perspex case with neon bulbs? You couldn't find something so tacky this side of Las Vegas.

    These RAM displays not only seem ugly (you'd expect a stock quote or "Now Serving Customer 87" to scroll by) but they even seem like they keep you from adding extra DIMMs because they overhang the adjacent slot.
    • It's a free market. They come up with a product idea, they bring it to market. People either buy it, or they don't. If people buy it, they make money from it. If they don't, they cancel the product and move on to something else. There, I've just answered your question.
      • It's a free market. They come up with a product idea, they bring it to market. People either buy it, or they don't. If people buy it, they make money from it. If they don't, they cancel the product and move on to something else. There, I've just answered your question.


        I guess that's why they still sell the Pontiac Aztek or the Toyota Echo.

    • I've always been reserved when it comes to building systems but after my last one died due to "severe ingress of a high-voltage electrical charge" (yeah, lightning came in on my modem line :-p), I decided to build something different. I concentrated on performance first and then dressed it up slightly with a clear window side, glow-in-the-dark cabling, and then making sure all my other cabling was clean, neat, promoted airflow, and was (for the most part) hidden. So, being a long time hacker and geek, my sy
  • How ever did I survive without this for so many years?
  • If I had that RAM -- and if I'd had paid one cent more for this feature -- the only use I could see for it would be to continually flash SUCKER to remind me of my stupidity in paying for useless features that suck power and do nothing to improve performance.

    And I wouldn't let someone else talk me into buying it for them either just because they want to look cool either. Look cool with your own money!

    Just because we can do something, doesn't always mean we should.

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