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Data Storage Hardware Hacking

What Can You Do with Old RAM? 90

sruchris asks: "Over the past 10 years or so, as friends and relatives buy new computers, I end up with the spare parts that they don't want. I've now have quite the collection of unused PC100 and PC133 SDRAM. Does anyone have any practical or creative uses for spare SDRAM other than giving it away? I have various sizes from 32MB to 256MB. My first thought was a giant RAM drive. Does anyone know of an adapter that would take, lets say, 10 sticks of SDRAM and give me an IDE or USB connector? I know people have made jewelery, fishtanks, litterboxes and furniture out of old computers parts, but what can we do that's pratical with a box full of old RAM?"
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What Can You Do with Old RAM?

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  • by Mad_Rain ( 674268 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @07:35PM (#13786634) Journal
    Keychains! Lots and Lots of keychains!
  • Obvious (Score:3, Funny)

    by c0d3h4x0r ( 604141 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @07:35PM (#13786635) Homepage Journal
    but what can we do that's pratical with a box full of old RAM?

    You can post it as an "Ask Slashdot" and get your five minutes of geek fame!

    • Well. It should be obvious enough:

      Since the submitter appears to be bored with SDRAM, and I still have a machine which uses it, he should simply give it to me.


  • Gigabyte's i-RAM (Score:3, Informative)

    by jgaynor ( 205453 ) <jon@gayno[ ]rg ['r.o' in gap]> on Thursday October 13, 2005 @07:36PM (#13786643) Homepage

    Try Gigabyte's i-RAM:

    Anandtech Review []

    4 slot, PCI, makes a great swap file drive for pshop or premiere.
  • by oldosadmin ( 759103 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @07:37PM (#13786651) Homepage
    I'd say to give them to someone who might use them (like me), or to sell them on ebay. Some people still use that type of ram.
    • Seriously. I would be glad to plug an extra 512MB of PC133 SDRAM into my computer.
    • Yes, this kind of RAM is still new enough to be useful. Check out your local charities. Perhaps you have a local Tech Corps [] taking donated computers and turning them into computer labs for K-12 schools. It isn't uncommon for donated computers to have a pathetic amount of RAM installed or even for them to show up stripped, and a network server can always use a little more RAM. The worst case scenario is you get a tax writeoff and the charity properly disposes of the RAM.
      • >It isn't uncommon for donated computers to have a pathetic amount of RAM installed or even for them to show up stripped

        Find out what the people stripping the RAM out of old boxes are doing with it, and do that.

        Or, just stop keeping hold of it yourself if it isn't worth anything to you.
    • by MrResistor ( 120588 ) <peterahoff AT gmail DOT com> on Friday October 14, 2005 @01:22AM (#13788336) Homepage
      That's probably the best suggestion.

      Remember that this stuff wasn't just used in desktop PCs, but also in a wide variety of special purpose systems. For example, I used to repair video servers, which were basically a PC with a crapload of custom hardware, and each one uses a bare minimum of 5 72-pin simms (max 11, IIRC). There are hundreds of these things still chugging along doing their jobs quite nicely, keeping broadcasters like DirecTV going, despite the fact that some of them are old enough to be running NT3 on a 486.

      Somebody has a use for them, and you might as well collect a little beer money from it.

      That said, the ramdrive idea is cool, but it get's mentioned every year or so and there don't seem to be many of them out there, especially ones that use older form factors. If I had the know-how, though, I'd make one. I'm not convinced it's as unreasonable as some around here would have us believe.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 13, 2005 @07:44PM (#13786698)
    I don't know but right know I am in the process of installing as many old wiped drives, pci cards and ram into one box as I can. I'm going to try to jam a few motherboards in there right before I seal it up. Then I am going to take it to the recycling center and let them deal with it. For the $8 charge per box, they are going to get about 8 drives, 20 sticks of ram (most of it taped inside of the case), 8 pci cards, some floppy and cd drives, and hopefully a couple of extra motherboards. It's going to be wall to wall components in there.
    • Ive been recycling my stuff to a used computer store myself also, because every once and awhile I need something old, and I dont need to keep those 12 monitors in my basement anymore.

      But first, I'd max out my linux box with pc133, just to help speed it up.
    • Sucks that you have to pay per box. In my town we have a town run recycling center that takes pc's and other computer parts. Sure I pay for it in my taxes but damn I dropped off 8 pc's the other day.
  • The best SDRAM adapter would be a couple of BX Chipset boards, and boot into linux and share out a ramdrive.
    Sadly, the speed and I/O pins required to talk to even PC-100 SDRAM is out of the range of anything homebrew you could throw together. Unless you're some sort of FPGA master with a PC board factory in the backyard. Neat idea, but highly impractical.
    So Ebay the SDRAM, buy some cheap DDR, and the Gigabyte card that's got DDR slots and a FPGA on it already.
    (FPGA - Field Programable Gate Array [])
  • freecycle (Score:5, Informative)

    by dr_leviathan ( 653441 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @07:53PM (#13786767) [] -- basically a local free exchange of stuff that you would otherwise throw away

    I found that via an old entry on [].

    There have times where I wished I had some older memory to fill out an old liquidated machine I was resurrecting, but I've always had spares of the smaller sized memory cards while wishing I had the larger capacity cards. That is and abundance of 128 MB cards that I would like to trade ALL for just one 256 MB card. The low end stuff of any generation of memory cards is basically useless in my experience.

    Anybody want some 128 MB PC100 cards?
  • by dtfinch ( 661405 ) * on Thursday October 13, 2005 @08:50PM (#13787102) Journal
    Then I'd feel comfortable discarding my large pile of 4-16mb SIMMs.
  • "I end up with the spare parts that they don't want"

    Get rid of them?

  • At some point in time, "old" RAM and other computer parts are no longer going to work or we won't be able to find computers old enough to work with it. At this point, what exactly happens to the parts? I know there's a fair amount of toxic material (lead being one) that is used in the bords or in the production. We cannot obviously turn the recycled PCBs into its original components. Are there any solutions coming up in the future or the boards being ground up to be used as part of something else?

    Please mod
  • by unitron ( 5733 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @09:01PM (#13787163) Homepage Journal
    I'm in the market for 256 MB PC100 sticks (or PC133 if it'll work in old BX chipset boards), or maybe even 128 sticks if really cheap.

    You can email me at

  • We used to turn old 256k 30-pin SIMMs into keychains and give or sell them to customers. The hole on the side can hold a keyring. More popular among the ladies, since it meant the keys were easier to find in the purse, and gents didn't care for the sharp corners. We ground the corners off a few for ourselves, but never really found them convenient for our pocket keychains. I did put one on my auxiliary keychain, though.

    • I still have a pair of 64K 30 pin SIMMs. Out of an insanely old AST Bravo '286 machine. They were in the machine in order, it seems, to insure that the machine only had 640K of RAM... (those SIMMs and a pair of 256s)

      • Actually, those two SIMMs were a ridiculously expensive upgrade. I remember going through old invoives for my dad after a fire in 1996 and I saw that he had to pay something like $600 extra for the upgrade from 512kiB to 640kiB. All told, he payed around $5000 for his first computer in 1988 (or so, I was like 4 at the time). He needed the upgrade so he could run his $10000 accounting software (that he still uses, in a fullscreen DOS on a Win98 machine with a Cyrix MX200. Every four years or so, he pays a $5
  • I carry one on a keychain, not only as it looks cool, and makes a nice conversation piece, but, it makes a great box cutter. It also could be used to shank someone. And the teachers can't say anything, as it's technically not a weapon. Hmm, maybe the "S" in SDRAM stands for shiv...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    We continue to build up SME Server based systems,
    like the one we put into a returned soldiers'
    rehab centre in South Australia, cost-free.

    We've got some Compaq Deskpro's that work fine
    in that application... they take PC100 SDRAM.

    Adding more RAM makes our servers go faster;
    each of these boxes have room for 3 RAM modules.

    If you were going to dump them, dump them here:

    GPO Box 222, Adelaide 5001, AUSTRALIA

    TIA :-)
  • by jcaplan ( 56979 ) *
    I work at a school as a computer teacher and tech support person. I have essentially no budget and I scrounge what I can. A bunch of 32MB PC100 or larger DIMMS (or SIMMS for that matter) would be put to great use. Remember corportate users upgrade much more frequently than schools do. I have a long list of machines that need more RAM. If you don't want to send them to me, check with local schools - they might be delighted for some extra RAM. Just make sure you talk to the right folks.

    The lack of budget isn'
  • Build a proxy or router or print server out of old computer parts and put it in that.

    On a less serious note, you could tape it to your fingers and you'd have nine inch nails.
  • Hand-me-downs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HunterZ ( 20035 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @10:57PM (#13787706) Journal
    I find a friend or family member with an old computer and give them a bit of an upgrade. I recently found some extra PC100 SDRAM laying around and put it in my mom's computer the last time I visited.
  • My wife thought I was nuts, but I put a hook on some old ram and hung them up on the tree.

    John C
  • I just sold a 256mb of SDRAM I had lying around for months for $20 on eBay.
  • LTSP (Score:4, Funny)

    by darnok ( 650458 ) on Friday October 14, 2005 @12:29AM (#13788134)
    Build a Linux Terminal Server box, get a bunch of crappy old PCs that everyone throws out, fill them with your RAM - every one (or every room!) in the house gets a PC.

    I dream of the day I have a toilet PC, but there's still a few logistical challenges to work out (e.g. mounting the screen behind the door, storing the optical mouse somewhere, choice of keyboard), as well as the all important "Can I find a printer that prints on a roll of toilet paper?". You may laugh, but once I've got mine, everyone's gonna want one!
    • Might I advise requiring a laserprinter? I think my needs are quicker than a dot-matrix printer and an inkjet... well... let's not wait until the ink dries either.
    • I did a bathroom PC once. I set up a 15" LCD, covered with a clear plastic dust shield, on a swingarm and used an industrial membrane keyboard - I could use the display either in the bathtub (sorta) or on the john. I set machine (a Compaq thin client, actually) for it a spare vanity I never use since I am the kind of pathetic geek who would never have a second person using my bathroom. I put a plastic seal on the vanity doors to keep moisture out, just in case.

      Mostly I used that machine so I could sit in th
  • I made a drinks coaster with some RAM, it has been a talking point in the past.
  • Sell on Allegro. (Score:3, Informative)

    by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Friday October 14, 2005 @06:27AM (#13789116) Homepage Journal
    In Poland, 128, 256, 512M SDRAMs run at prices high enough to exchange them for DDR400 equivalents with lifetime warranty.
    These chips are what allows older computers - P2, P3 - to run smoothly and be usable in modern world. Used computer salesmen battle for them - because P3 600MHZ with 512M RAM will run faster than P4 2GHZ with 128M - which still is a common config available from retailers. Giving more RAM to the old boxes gives them a new lease of life and allows them to serve poorer people for many years. You can have such a computer, complete set, for $30, $50 - and it's more than enough for websurfing and home office, accounting etc. Only games require more.
  • by anthony_dipierro ( 543308 ) on Friday October 14, 2005 @07:13AM (#13789253) Journal

    It's usually not much of a problem to find motherboards and power supplies to go along with your ram. The problem really becomes energy consumption. Yeah, you can take out the drives (and everything else), and leave just the mobo, power supply, fan, and memory, but that's still going to eat up too much power unless you've got a good use for the extra ram.

    I got to thinking after reading this: what about using a battery-backed SDRAM module? This way you could keep the computer off, but the data would stay in ram. I'm not really sure how useful it'd be in itself, but apparently these things come as PCI cards so maybe they'll help. Here are some links I found in a quick google search: [], []

    Anyway, for most purposes I think just using a regular old motherboard will do. The issue is can you find a use for the ram which is more valuable than the cost of the electricity? For smaller bits of ram, I'm not so sure about that.

  • I've found that by using a snap swivel [] (used in fishing) and a split ring those old chips can make decent key rings. Especially handy if you leave a key with relatives; they are sure to know what it goes to.
  • Put a keyring thorough the corner hole. Instant geeky keychain.
  • If you can find somewhere to donate the RAM, do it. Schools are always horribly out of date. The *newest* computers I use at my high school are 400Mhz iMac G3s with 128MB of RAM, I would love to have more RAM to put in them, and I imagine many other schools are in a similar situation.
  • It will draw lots to have 10 or twenty of these chips in a ramdrive, at some point you will actually be paying more in electric bill than it would cost to buy bigger ram. I basing this on using one of HP server rack configs were I added 20 sticks of 1GB ram and the wattage went to the roof, but don't take my word for it.
  • get anough parts to actually get at least one machine that will boot. Then overclock the hell out of it and see how fast you can get it before it melts. Alternatively you could just see how fast you melt it and then try to beat your previous score. Actually rather fun especially if you experiment with the fridge or other cool substances. Be careful with liquid nitrogen tho.....
  • I have been converting mine into keychains since simms. Add ring, add keys. Hurts like hell in your pocket though.

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito