Ask Hackaday: Can We Get Someone To Buy And Destroy RAM?

We like blinky things. We’re moths drawn to the flame of serially-addressable RGB LEDs. If the LEDs are smaller, we want to know. If you can drive more of them, we want to know. That said, the most interesting news out of CES last January was both right up our alley, and immensely disappointing. Corsair, makers of RGB computer fans, RGB CPU coolers, and RGB keyboards and mice, have a new product out: RGB RAM, because professional gamers and streamers have a higher win percentage when their RAM is illuminated.

The key innovation of the new Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 DRAM is called, ‘Capellix LEDs’. The press surrounding these LEDs gives a clear advantage: right now, the RGB LEDs in your gaming system are mounted in a large SMD package, like a WS2812 or APA101. These large packages reduce LED density, and making LEDs smaller means moar RGB — more colors, or brighter colors, or better efficiency. The key advancement in Capellix LEDs is taking the guts of a serially addressable RGB LED and putting it in a smaller package. Instead of a package that’s 2.8mm³ in volume, the Capellix LED is ‘just 0.2mm³ in size’. The few pictures available of these LEDs give the impression they’re about the size of an 0805 package. It’s small, and we’d like to get our hands on some.

Where these LEDs come from is anyone’s guess, but Corsair did partner with Primax, a Taiwanese manufacturer of computer peripherals, to pull this off. There is no mention of Capellix LEDs in Primax’s press releases, and we don’t actually know if these are the smallest serially addressable RGB LEDs available; we don’t even know if they’re serially addressable. There could easily be a small microcontroller in the Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 DRAM, as each stick is only driving twelve individually controllable RGB LEDs.

The bottom line is, someone needs to spend $160 for 16GB of RAM, then tear the whole thing apart, preferably with close-up pics of the fancy new RGB LEDs.

A cynical reader would say that Capellix LEDs are simply existing LEDs, the name ‘Capellix’ was trademarked by Corsair, and these LEDs were shoved into a stick of RAM with a significant markup. This, surprisingly, is demonstrably wrong because there is no entry for ‘Capellix’ in the United States Patent and Trademark Office Trademark Electronic Search System. That doesn’t mean the spirit of the cynic is wrong, though; ROHM semiconductors just released a new side-view RGB LED that might be smaller than Corsair’s Capellix LEDs. There are, of course, RGB LEDs available in similar sizes, but none of these are serially-addressable like a WS2812 or APA101. We don’t know what’s in these fancy sticks of RAM, but we’re waiting for someone to do a tear down so we can find out.

37 thoughts on “Ask Hackaday: Can We Get Someone To Buy And Destroy RAM?

  1. A reviewer with good reputation and large following *could* buy these RAM and write them off as business expense instead of begging readers to buy and destroy them. Companies would even send them free stuff just to get click points.

  2. Don’t know for the apa101 (never saw this one…)
    But the apa102 exist in a 2020 package instead of the usual 5050, it’s already pretty small!
    But I would like to know if something even smaller exist!
    Obviously having a rgb “analog” led and a separate “serializer” chip doesn’t count…

    1. RGB self flashing LEDs and common anode have been available in so-called 0807 package for a while now. Is it not a variation on that package rather than an actual 0805. (How would you get more than two connections to it if it were 0805?)

  3. personally I dont like illuminated pc components. this thing has to sit quiet under my desk and just do its numbercrunching job. when something goes disco, it’s usally a very bad sign: ABS, ESP and various alarm indicators on machines.

    for your bid: buy this thing and mark it at your tax report.

  4. “… professional gamers and streamers have a higher win percentage when their RAM is illuminated.”

    Oh man! Wouldn’t that be an awesome hoax to spread?!

    Imagine dozens of angry internet rants by “gamers and streamers” that took this to heart, decapped their ram and shined blinky lights at it. What a great way to discover the photoelectric effect! We could all reply to those rants with this link (https://www.cs.uaf.edu/2007/fall/cs441/support/dram_sensor_1984_whitehead.pdf) to really jab the point home.

    More seriously though, hey now! Don’t many of us like to pretty up the projects we build so the outside shows the same as the effort we put into the inside? That same concept could apply to a “PC hotrodder” assembling their own “rig”. At least it can so long as the pc they are putting it on actually is a “hot rod” and not just a well polished turd.

    1. If you know your marketing blurb maybe you could sell these as “light technology laser enabled superspeed RAM” or something? Much faster than traditional DDR4!
      I wonder where these LEDs get they blinking pattern from. Isn’t there an I2C-bus on the RAM-connector?

    2. “Oh man! Wouldn’t that be an awesome hoax to spread?!” – Whatever do you mean? Of course it’s true.

      Redirecting a specific percentage of electrons through a diode feedback loop optimizes memory clock timing cycles so it spends fewer microseconds recalculating parity. Over billions of refresh cycles those microseconds add up!
      As LEDs are diodes they are functionally equivalent so far as the speed boost, with a nice side effect of lighting up.

    3. I’d dare to juice it up with “…hardcore WoT commanders, the true offsprings of Michael Wittman, find they have a more favorable RNG and better win ration when exposed to the stench of a buttoned-up tank, and the heat and intense light of a 20kW arc lamp in their faces”.

    1. (What a crappy website that needs JS enabled for at least 3 domains to show a simple picture.)
      Now thats what we all need. Fake RAM with RGB led, are you kidding me?? And it’s not cheap either, for 40$ you might get some real (second hand) RAM.

      @HAD:
      What on earth is hexus.net? It does not work and blocks your website.

  5. Nothing new here. I saw some “Ballistix” RAM sticks several years ago with multicolor LEDs along the top edge. They’d do things like “Larson Scan” and blink at some sub-fraction of the access speed on each data line. If they blinked at the actual access rate they’d simply be on.

  6. I built a reasonably high end pc just recently, to replace an old clunker.

    It is actually quite difficult to get hold of high spec parts that won’t make whatever room you’ve got the computer in light up like a particularly tasteless brothel. Can’t wait for this fad to die, it is irritating to have to physically disconnect the stupid blinken lights on everything.

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