Double the RAM on D-Link router

d-link_double_ram

[Pelaca] upgraded the RAM on his D-Link DIR-320 router from 32MB to 64MB. This hack is simple enough: swap out the existing RAM chip for another one and change the bios to make use of the upgrade. The actual execution is not that simple because of the pitch of the TSOP II package; you’ll need to bring your mad soldering skills to pull this off.

This reminds us of when upgrading original Xbox RAM to 128MB was all the rage. It involved the same type of hack, adding four memory chips to unpopulated positions on the motherboard. The forums are thick with people complaining that their box not working after a failed upgrade attempt. Hopefully you’ll have better luck.

[Thanks Juan]

25 thoughts on “Double the RAM on D-Link router

  1. I keep wondering why you’d want to double the ram of the router. Usually it has enough RAM to do what it was designed to do.

    What is he running on that router that needs that much RAM?

  2. @someguy – absolutely. This router supports DD-WRT firmware so would function far better as a mini-linux box with double the RAM to play with.

  3. Phew, soldering a TSOP DDR SDRAM chip is not hard and does not require “mad” soldering skills. Of course, if you are used to the tiny training wheels of Arduino…

  4. I was under the impression that the “change the bios to make use of it” could be challenging, particularly with closed source BIOS’s. Also, on machines with a more advanced operating system, there might be other hardware mapped into address space which the new RAM would overlap with – in this case, you need somehow to provide a new (bigger) memory map to the OS, which would be a challenge without writing your own shim to intercept all calls between the OS and the BIOS.

    Also, if the hardware was designed when they already knew how much ram it would have, the memory address bus may physically not have enough bits, if they decide to save a little money by reducing the number of conductors/vias/layers on the board.

  5. An easier way to remove the old chip (assuming you don’t care about reusing it) is to use a sharp exacto and just cut the leads off near the body, then clean up the pads.

  6. Obviously if you have to change the software to use it it means it’s booted from a linux, and a linux can benefit from more RAM since you can add more functions while retaining speed.

    (Yes I said ‘a linux’ as in ‘a linux distro of some make’ and I consider that grammatically correct)

    It’s also obvious that you do this on a system where there’s indication that it can be supported and doesn’t cause some sort of mapping conflicts, and that can likely be discovered easily since many routers use chips that contain most of the stuff, the ARM and the interfacing etcetera, and those come with pdf’s with specifications and those tell what amount of RAM it can drive, and since the handling is all embedded in hardware it’s not likely that the thing would be designed to use that reserved embedded address space I’m guessing.

  7. Rad! I bought one of these to run DD-WRT it was cheap and did the trick. Might be cool to buy another an upgrade the ram then run it as a NAS or something.

  8. Anyone done anything with upgrading the flash instead? 2 or 4 megs isnt a lot, and considering that a 1 gig flash drive costs stuff all, I am assuming that the flasm memory itself is dirt cheap.

  9. Richard you are assuming wrong

    does D-Link DIR-320 still have USB 2.0 problems like it had few months ago when I was researching it? particularly problems with mounting drives and transfer speeds?

  10. I remember addiding 512k of ram to an old pci videocard so it will have a complete mb.
    I removed two ram chips from other similar videocard and soldered into the PCB of that videocard in some free pads for the ram bank 1.
    It was kinda pain in the ass to desolder/solder two big smd chips with an standard soldering iron (my first smd job i remember).

    It worked at the first try, i think the bios was made to support more vram.

    Good times, when 1mb of vram was “a lot” :P

    I think I still have that videocard lying arround.

  11. @Richard: I guess the 1GB flash chips are NAND flash while the 2/4MB ones are NOR flash. Those are different (and incompatible) things.

    However, it might be possible to upgrade with a bigger NOR flash (up to 32MB or so) quite easily.

  12. I don’t mofdify the firmware. I just modify the sdram variables on the nvram. I change just 2 bits to use the aditional address line. This hack is children game compared to my previous hack to modify a Clie N710 to support 16MB instead the original 8Mb. On this case I’ve to modify the HAL of th Clie Palm OS.

  13. Very nice hack… Some comments on comments and my two cents:

    @error404: “An easier way to remove the old chip (assuming you don’t care about reusing it) is to use a sharp exacto and just cut the leads off near the body, then clean up the pads.”

    I think what @error404 yes, must emphasize cut the leads VERY near the body, there may be traces under the chip. These traces can get cut if you slip when trying to cut the leads near the body. I found a $5 pair of nail clippers with pointy tips that can cut these leads safely.

    @Therian: “Dont buy d-link in a firs place…”

    I agree, I’ve had a lot of trouble with D-Link stuff over the years. I avoid D-Link where possible.

    I usually hack Linksys WRT54GL routers. The WRT54GL is an A/B wireless router, not necessarily the latest technology but it is a stable platform released by Linksys specifically to support those that want to hack it. I like that attitude so I support this product buy using it where possible. Do a Google search for “WRT54GL RAM upgrade”. At first glance it Looks like it is easy, for 16MB to 32MB at least.

  14. My main reason to use this hardware is because is very cheap on my country, and looks like a good development platform.

    My next work on this router will be to upgrade the flash to 8Mb or 16Mb.

    @Therian and Drone
    The hardware of the D-Link DIR-320 is well constructed, the problem is the original software sucks.

  15. I used the Dir-320 with a thumb drive to export it as FTP service, and I program a script to use the SES light to display the mount status and the SES button to umount the device. Works but I don’t test the speed on this, I can tell you if is a decent NAS or not.
    I plan to add SMB services with the new free memory.

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