Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Memory Activity LEDs

CmdrTaco posted more than 11 years ago | from the pimping-out-your-puter dept.

Hardware 403

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."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957342)

fp? Kill Karma.

newsworthy! (-1, Troll)

plushpuffin (256612) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957347)

This is certainly newsworthy! All those ubergay case modders are probably shitting their pants right now.

PS: nice job proofreading.

So... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957349) that what they mean by 'flash memory'..?

Re:So... (-1, Redundant)

gotr00t (563828) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957374)

No, Flash memory got its name because older models of it were nonvoltile memory modules that could be erased when exposed to ultraviolet light. It has nothing to do with blinking LEDs.

Re:So... (-1)

D'Sphitz (699604) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957402)

Anusboy, it was a joke.

you are an idiot (-1, Flamebait)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957490)

and you make no secret of it

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957554)

No, Flash memory is often used in cameras or some PDA's to write to the chips without having them erased when power is lost. It makes moving a flash memory card from a camera to a computer easy, instead of having to write to another medium inbetween. The computer can then read from the same memory that the device used to write to. On top of this, it saves energy, as you don't have to always refresh it for hours or days at a time to keep its contents. There's no LEDs on it

newsdry? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957560)

What arent there any better news that are at least a little more interesting and not so much free advertisement for useless crap? Or is it a news dry since a few months back?

Re:newsdry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957572)

Don't ask.

I submitted two stories this week, both rejected. One was about the somewhat serious issue that London's power blackout a few weeks ago turned out to be, supposedly, because a 1 amp fuse blew. This raises somewhat serious design issues. Rejected.

A second issue, much more to Slashdotters tastes, concerns a law being considered by the UK parliament that'll require all websites to deposit copies of themselves with UK libraries. The logistics of such an exercise, alone, would make you think Slashdot readers would be interested in such things.

But no. Instead we get LEDs in memory chips and home made silly putty. WTF?


Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957583)

Those transparent side panels, the ones I spent $16 on, plus $3.95S+H, that you said was merely for basement-dwelling lusers, well what do you think now, HUH?

ATTENTION (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#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.


dosius (230542) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957404)

That's the Blinkenlights sign...that's not off-topic. ;)


MOD PARENT UP (0, Flamebait)

LucidityZero (602202) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957507)

Come on, guys! Don't mod it down just cause you have no history in you, and you don't understand! Will a mod who atleast understands how relevant the preceding post is do something to help it back up?

It's Offtopic, You Tool Face (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957528)

So live with it


Mwah mwah.

Sounds like (1)

DaLiNKz (557579) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957351)

Sounds like the world gets ever more closer to being something out of star trek.

Re:Sounds like (-1)

WellAren'tYouJustThe (705433) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957549)

Well aren't you just the master of the early post karma attempt.

except ... (1)

haraldm (643017) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957604)

... that this feature makes about as much sense as the pope's scrotum.

One question: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957353)


Mod this up, Europeans! (-1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957355)

HOWTO: Be an American
Version 1.0 / M

America, eh folks? It's a pretty screwed up place. Unfortunately, but not indefinitely, the USA's weapons of mass destruction make it the most powerful country in the world (militarily). As a result, it helps to be aware of American society and fit into it, and our quick 8-step guide should have you on the path to burger-munching enlightenment.

1 - Buy yourself a gun
To become a fully-fledged Yank, you'll need to get a weapon. Americans think that having more killing machines magically makes their country safer, and it helps them to walk around saying "I'll put a cap in your ass". Even though the concept of "no guns = no gun-related crimes" is alien to the average Yank, it'll give you a false sense of security in this country with the highest crime rates in the developed world.

2 - Put on at least 25 stone
Skinny? Medium? Chubby? That won't cut it in the good ol' US of A. Because America has the highest obesty levels on the planet, you'll need to get those rolls of flab built up. Eating 18 waffles with Maple syrup for breakfast (and visiting Burger King five times in a day) is all natural when much of the world is suffering massive poverty. Get fat and fit in.

3 - Learn the lingo
We've talked about issues affecting society, but on a personal level you'll need more knowledge (or ignorance as it may be) to fit in. First, forget proper English. Confuse "your" with "you're". Say "must of" instead of "must have". Whenever anything interesting occurs, say "shucks" repeatedly. Instead of clever spontaneity or witty insults, call people "asswipes". It's funny!

4 - Throw away all maps, history books etc.
To really feel a part of American society, you must lose all knowledge of the world. Forget where Poland is. Scrap your knowledge of the lengthy Chinese history. Make cretinous remarks like "India? Is that in Africa?". Because ALL that matters is America, and it doesn't matter how pathetic you look to educated people the world over.

5 - Become totally irrational and nonsensical
Spout on about the Constitution, and then make drastic changes to it. Talk about "freedom of speech" and watch TV programmes about the Ku Klux Klan. Rant on about market freedom, and sit back as companies run riot and destroy the economy with their anti-competitive practices. Essentially, act idiotic at all times.

6 - Sue everyone you ever meet
The USA doesn't produce many decent quality products, so the society is crumbling into a litigation-happy joke. With so many jobs going overseas to talented workers, your only option left is to start legal proceedings. About anything. Someone step on your toe? Get some hotshot downtown lawyer to sue their ass!

7 - Get a "shrink"
Americans have a hard time dealing with their own problems in a mature manner, and prefer to spend hundreds of dollars sitting in front of someone and whinging. However trivial your problems may be, blast them out like a baby!

8 - Watch abysmal TV
Forget educational programmes and incisive documentaries. Your ideal night in is with your gun, six cheeseburgers and a Friends box set. Watch as some over-paid talentless "actor" enters the scene, and whoop and scream hysterically as he delivers some ridiculously poor wisecrack.

So there you have it! Those 8 steps should have you killing innocent people, piling on pounds and acting like a moron in no time. America awaits you, brave hero! Just get out before it collapses in disarray.


I think this guy has an inferiority complex.... (-1, Offtopic)

BlabberMouth (672282) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957469)

Europeans have to pay to go to a public restroom and people over six feet tall can't go down an average stairwell.

Re:Mod this up, Europeans! (-1, Offtopic)

RightInTheNeck (667426) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957556)

This is about as dumb as me writing a European HOWTO based on all the Mr. Bean and Monty Python episodes I've seen over the years. Can you possible be a bigger douchebag.

Bad Karma (-1, Redundant)

Doctor Osos (699394) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957600)

Let me get this straight. When Hitler was ravaging the countryside, America stepped up and layed the smackdown. How quickly you forget that everyone in the EU would be speaking German and eating schnitzel, if not for American intervention. Brush up on the history books, young lad.

Useful (2, Interesting)

Psx29 (538840) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957362)

Now I can finally tell whether or not my memory is bad!

Re:Useful (2, Interesting)

jpc (33615) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957382)

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.

Re:Useful (0)

sosume (680416) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957419)

Right.. as if one could say anything useful just by looking at these LEDs other than "Man, I've got memory to spaaaare..."

Pong? (5, Funny)

danormsby (529805) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957363)

With enough banks of this RAM will the resolution be enough to play Pong?

Blinkenlights! (5, Funny)

turgid (580780) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957369)

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.

Re:Blinkenlights! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957476)

Visit Radio Shack - they already have blinkenlights on USB cables

Re:Blinkenlights! (5, Funny)

Aldurn (187315) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957576)

Those blinkenlights were installed so you could monitor those bits: off and on. NOT so you could throw memory raves!

The beginning of the end? (4, Insightful)

Blaine Hilton (626259) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957370)

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.

Casemodding won't be cool when it's the standard. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957448)

The trend will reverse (thank God!), and having a tasteful, plain computer-- one that doesn't look like it would have been driven by a pimp in the 70's if it were a car-- will be in vogue again.

/me looks fondly at the dead-plain, black, monolithic PC case under his desk, adorned with nothing but a small case badge that bears a photo of an F-117.

People who rice up their PCs should be locked in a large cage with people who rice up their cars, and the two groups should be made to fight to the death. Then when the winners emerge victorious from the cage, they'll be cut down by a couple well-positioned Gatling guns. :-)

Re:The beginning of the end? (5, Funny)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957497)

Pretty soon people will be modding their computers to _remove_ all the silly lights and windows.

Re:The beginning of the end? (1)

alex_ant (535895) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957519)

Pretty soon it will be odd to not have a modded computer

Only if you're a loser. For the other 98% of computer users, life will go on as normal.

Re:The beginning of the end? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957568)

> Only if you're a loser.

Like you are, demonstrated by your spelling. The word is "looser"

common mistake.

forget green yellow red (1)

jr87 (653146) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957373)

i would like some nice looking blue myself. but anyways I wonder how usefull this really gonna be. other than a possible style thing it seems a bit useless.

Re:forget green yellow red (2, Informative)

MrPerfekt (414248) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957453)

Don't worry, somebody will come up with a method to read what's in your RAM [] from those little puppies!

kind of neat (3, Interesting)

FuzzyBad-Mofo (184327) | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

Re:kind of neat (1)

jpc (33615) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957425)

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.

Re:kind of neat (1)

CTho9305 (264265) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957532)

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.

Just what I need... (4, Funny)

AntiOrganic (650691) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957403)

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.

Re:Just what I need... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

Re:Just what I need... (3, Funny)

AntiOrganic (650691) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957492)

Thanks for reminding me, I need my "AMD Racing" bumper sticker printed up.

Re:Just what I need... (0, Redundant)

azav (469988) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957591)

Don't forget to put a "type R" on the sticker.

XMS? EMS? (4, Funny)

sonicattack (554038) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957405)

512 Mbyte XMS ProSeries modules

I want a 512 Mbyte LIM ProSeries module goddamit!

Re:XMS? EMS? (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957426)

I don't think EMS4 is even capable of grokking that much memory. ;)


Oh my (1)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957454)

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 (5, Funny)

sonicattack (554038) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957503)

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 (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957616)

I'm sorry, but running QEMM386 wouldn't have given me jack shit on my 486. A couple runs of MemMaker after having under 600K free, and I had 639K free. Beat that with a booted DOS box. Oh, and that was with both mouse and cd-rom drivers.

Re:Oh my (1)

IM6100 (692796) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957510)

I don't want to be reminded of LIM memory. But, then, many people reading this weren't alive then.

64K 'window' paging. Eeeek!

Re:Oh my (1)

HBI (604924) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957611)

The pages were only 16k in size :b

The page frame (window) was 64mb. However, I believe that, besides the 3.2 or 4.0 page frame, the Quarterdeck people did something funky with memory mapping (using EMS 4.0 features) which permitted them to swap out the entire main memory a program inhabited.

Hence the reason why Desqview worked.

New Optical Tempest issues? (5, Interesting)

teqo (602844) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957406)

Now, will case modders with transparent cases have to face a new optical tempest problem (beware, PDF link!) [] ? (People being able to sniff potentially critical data through analyzing LED blinking, that is...)

"heatspreader"? (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957414)

What in the hell is a "heatspreader"?

Re:"heatspreader"? (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957459)

What in the hell is a "heatspreader"?

An Eskimo hooker.

Re:"heatspreader"? (4, Informative)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957481)

A piece of metal which attaches to memory sticks and passively dissapates heat.

eg: []

Whats the possibility with security here? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#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?

Re:Whats the possibility with security here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957446)

reading that flashing would enable someone away from the machine without physical access to read the contents of data transferred

Complete myth. Urban legend.

Memory isn't selling, what do we do? (1)

KalvinB (205500) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957417)

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!



Re:Memory isn't selling, what do we do? (1)

IM6100 (692796) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957553)

Worse yet, they'll make it blink themselves, in interesting patterns, by writing special programs that run in the background that access the memory (which goes on and off as it's accessed). Then, because the programs running in the background are tying up resources, they'll go out and buy a faster processor.

AIDS! (1, Interesting)

mrpuffypants (444598) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957421)

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...

Re:AIDS! (1)

docwardo (304911) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957431)

Not every scientist and engineer can work on Cancer and Aids.. Some of us do, but not everyone can!

Re:AIDS! (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957485)

Not every scientist have an interest in cancer or AIDS, for that matter. People will tend to do research on whatever they find interesting and intriguing. To some extent you can direct it through grants and the like, but only to an extent.

To put it another way: Why do we have a huge entertainment industry making shows, music, movies and games, when they could all be working on cancer and AIDS?

Re:AIDS! (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957551)

> "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 with it (Ideally)

Actual Link (4, Informative)

terradyn (242947) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957428)

The site actually links most of its information from [H]ard|OCP [] . 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..

Re:Actual Link (4, Informative)

legoburner (702695) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957550)

and for lazy people, Here [] is the money shot.

CM-5? (1)

grub (11606) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957438)

What were all the LEDs on the Thinking Machines CM-5 [] for?

Re:CM-5? (4, Funny)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957477)

I dont know but I do know that if my PC looked like those machines I'd be irresistable to women!

Re:CM-5? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957484)

They were put there so it looked like the BatComputer for the suits that were going to buy it.

Re:CM-5? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957548)

Mostly address and data bits, miscellaneous mode bits, and so on. Generally, if everything stopped flickering it was a bad sign.

Most machines monitored so many lines that a bank of lights could be switched to display different things to keep the panel from growing really large - although there were some exceptions, like the 360/75, which I'm told had so many lamps that pressing the "lamp test" button would pop a circuit breaker -- for a while a standard feature of every /75 was a handmade guard of some sort over the LAMP TEST button.

There were options to display all sorts of obscure control lines and flip-flops within the machine; they were mostly used by CEs when diagnosing the hardware. They could step a program one clock cycle at a time and look at data going through the machine as it decoded and executed a single instruction. Or they could monitor the internal workings of, say, the multiplexer channel to see whether a flip-flop was sticking or data wasn't showing up.

One cute display I discovered on the 90/30 was the length of the current seek being made by a disk drive attached to the Integrated Disk Adapter (as most of them were). This wasn't an absolute cylinder number but the actual difference between the current cylinder number and the one to which it was going. Consistently high readings on this display meant that the system was thrashing badly; moving the file in question to a different drive could dramatically improve performance. (This is still true nowadays, although few people realize it because few personal computers have more than one drive.) This was a timely display, because the newer disk drives on the 90/30 had an opaque cover and you couldn't see whether the heads were moving excessively anymore.

The Univac 9300 on which I cut my teeth would by default display the first 16 bits of the currently-executing instruction while it was running. If this display suddenly froze in some random pattern, it was a pretty good indication that your program had gone into a loop. The simplest example, a branch to itself, would display 0100 0111 1111 0000 (47f0), the opcode and mask bits of an unconditional branch. Generally, though, if your program went into a loop, it was executing enough instructions each time around that all the lights would come on.

With the processor halted, you could step through your program one machine instruction at a time, and display and alter memory locations (both data and instructions) as well, and even jump to a different spot in your program. Early but effective interactive debugging! Modifying instructions or data on the fly was possible and scary.

On a card-based 9300, I could tell whether my program was CPU- or I/O-bound from the lights. Although it used DMA for all I/O, there would come a time when a program would have to wait for a device, and it would block by busy-waiting in a two-instruction loop:

TIO something,device-addr
BC 8,*-4

The TIO instruction had an opcode of a5, followed by an 8-bit device address, while the branch instruction was 4780. So if the machine was spending most of its time waiting for the card reader (device address 01), the two instructions a501 and 4780 would blur together to produce an apparent display of e781. If it was waiting for the printer (device address 03), the display would be e783.

If a program was CPU bound, it would be executing a random assortment of instructions so all of the lights would come on. If the program was only slightly I/O-bound, the patterns I described above would be discernible as brightly-lit bulbs, while the others would be dimly lit, and probably flickering in time with the device on which the program was waiting.

Some machines had "sense lights" or similar indicators which programs could turn on and off at will. ... all of which brings to mind the S/360 model 69, which had quite a few instruction opcodes not found on other models. One was BBI, "Branch on Blinking Indicator."

Re:CM-5? (1)

convolvatron (176505) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957584)

the lights on the cm-5 were just driven by one of the suns inside the cabinet. they were totally gratuitous.there were a few different driver programs you could select.

on the cm-2, they were actually driven by the processors themselves, and you could tell what application was running by looking at the pattern....but they too were effectively gratuitous. i do remember writing a tetris on the cm-2, but there wasn't much space.

This could be fun. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957440)

With some assembler, I bet i could make some sort of graphics out of this machine, like this.

* = on
_ = off


What's next, dipswitches? (2, Funny)

zx-6e (604380) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957456)

ooh, all the pretty lights....

activity (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957461)

What is meant by 'activity?' Size of memory usage, bandwidth usage, amount of power it's drawing?

Another color for Windoze users! (1)

spiritgreywolf (683532) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957463)

Gee, something other than the color blue to look at!!

Great... Now I gotta stay inside whilst the masses party in the streets and get wasted on Zima...

What's next? (1)

Not_Wiggins (686627) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957465)

Are they going to find a way to make the computer automatically generate that tele-type "clickety-clack" sound everytime a key is pressed... as is so popular in movies today to show how "advanced" the laptop the hero's using is? ;)

Seriously, outside of "looking pretty" and appealing to a (seemingly growing) generation of case-modders, what's the point?

One suggestion was you can see if you have bad memory. Umm... (forgive the Windows-specific example) I can tell that when I get a BSOD... or the machine fails to boot.

Someone should tell these memory manufacturers that they should spend more money increasing the access speed of their memory instead of making it "pretty." Or, at the very least, work on heat dissipation.

I'm not going to be really happy until the line blurs between L1 cache and main memory. ;)

This hearkens back (4, Interesting)

earthforce_1 (454968) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957468)

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.

Re:This hearkens back (1)

fmaxwell (249001) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957502)

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 and modify the contents of RAM.

Putting LEDs on RAM modules today is like putting a crank on the front of a modern electric-start car.

Obligatory (1, Funny)

Kardis314 (707019) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957472)

I for one welcome our new blinking memory overlords!

Another Obligatory (1)

JamesTRexx (675890) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957564)

I don't have a transparent case, you insensitive clod!

(ot) blinkenlights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957480)

A naive question. What did the blinkenlights on the old iron that had them, show? I had always assumed that they were tied to the machine's data and address buses (with appropriate buffering), but then the things would be useless much of the time. On the other hand, the BLs on this one old machine that lived in the Chrysler dinosaur pen when I worked there, did look like they were echoing a bus. On yet another hand, the MPEG of a PDP-x(8?) booting up that I found on the Rhode Island old iron Web site, clearly showed patterns that stuck around for a second or so, implying that the panel lights were under program control, and could actually say something.

So, what was it? Was the front panel an elaborate machine-wedged-p? indicator during normal operation, or was it a program-controlled output device? Or was it something else, of which my limited intelligence can not even conceive?

Re:(ot) blinkenlights (1)

alex_ant (535895) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957570)

If you were a representative from a large corporation trying to decide which school's computing research dept. to fund, would you want to give your money to the school with the computer that had lots of flashy lights, or the school with the boring computer that barely had any lights?

colors (1, Interesting)

Councilor Hart (673770) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957491)

Great. More lights which means nothing to me. I am colour-blind. Worse is that more and more things try to give me information by changing the color of the leds, leaving me standing in the desert of ignorance. So it tells me nothing and I pay for the power usage.

Re:colors (-1)

WellAren'tYouJustThe (705433) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957529)

Well aren't you just the president of the disgruntled nerd club.

Re:colors (2, Funny)

alex_ant (535895) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957592)

Yeah, damn, sucks for you, everyone else is going to be sponging up loads of useful info from these lights. Oh well, maybe some enterprising fellow will discover this untapped market for color-blind case modders and debut a line of RAM sticks with little speakers on them.

But memeory goes inside case... (5, Insightful)

MP3Chuck (652277) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957493)

What good are LED's unless you've got a clear case mod ... or no case?

Encouraging emi/rfi? (5, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957495)

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?

Re:Encouraging emi/rfi? (1)

Avian visitor (257765) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957536)

I've read a story somewhere (perhaps on slashdot) that someones garage door remote stoped working after he/she installed a case window.

Re:Encouraging emi/rfi? (4, Informative)

dissy (172727) | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

Where will this insanity end? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957504)

What next? An LED that displays hard drive activity?

Re:Where will this insanity end? (1)

isny (681711) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957599)

I want a hard drive that looks like the Indus GT drive for the commodore 64. Searching on the web, I couldnt find anything but this [] , a pretty blurry picture. It had a numeric display stating which track the read/write head was on, or error code if something bad happened.

I want XMS with ECC (3, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957513)

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.

Mmm... more LEDs! (5, Funny)

feidaykin (158035) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957522)

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!

What an incredible advance! (5, Funny)

_Sharp'r_ (649297) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957534)

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!

What is the intended use? (3, Insightful)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957545)

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.

Re:What is the intended use? (3, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957609)

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.

uahfuadnqwjhdawifiuwe (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957555)

charlemagne sucks men's penises all day long. yeah yeah yeah, cock is what he wants. charlemagne wants to be castrated by crocodile clips.

Reverse Trend (3, Insightful)

alakon (657771) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957558)

Great-- I will now have a gigantic machine with rows and rows of blinking lights. Why the hell do we need this again?

How fast are LEDs? (1)

ressu (200336) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957581)

I sure hope they can find LEDs that blink fast enough, it would be a shame if the led couldn't blink fast enough and would slow the memory down..

Blickenlichten (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6957590)

Oh boy. More crap for people with more money than brains. Let's see.....

- Case which looks like it was designed by a liberal arts drop-out (and windows so we can see the dust bunnies grow): X dollars
- Lights for the inside of the computer (to highlight the dust bunnies): Y dollars
- And now, blicking LEDs inside the computer (well, at least it doesn't bring out the dust bunnies): Z dollars
Being able to remove all doubt you're a first order stupid dork: Priceless.

Yeah, go ahead and mod this as a troll.. Proves the point, doesn't it.

..Pretty Lights.. (2, Interesting)

phuturephunk (617641) | more than 11 years ago | (#6957613)

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 industrial sized crane, because of its lack of moving parts.

People like to 'see' an indicator that what they've built is actually working..Its comforting in a Man-machine sort of way. You could easily see if a bank was out (as someone mentioned before), but then again you'd know that when you tried to boot the machine. ..I think an interesting application of this would be to attach a bank of lights that could vary in intensity depending on power usage to the banks. One could test various in-case heat levels and actually observe the usage levels of electricity inside different parts of the ram as temperature rose. I dunno, I'm grasping here.. ...Pretty lights!!..
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?