Electronic Design

Corsair Dominator

"And when you die, they can bury you in it!" — Judge Reinhold, Ruthless People

Judge Reinhold was talking about a set of Dominator speakers large enough to park a car in. Corsair's Dominator (Fig. 1) is significantly smaller, but with some very big performance advantages.

PC memory packaging has made incremental changes over the years but most of the change has been in pin-outs and capacity. Performance was always on the rise but heat was not much of an issue. It is now. This is especially true as DDR2 memory breaks the gigahertz boundary. The Dominator XMS2-8500 runs at speeds up to 1111 MHz with latencies of 5-5-5-15. We used a matched pair of 1-Gbyte units in this project. Corsair is so confident of the quality that it provides a lifetime guarantee.

The most noticeable difference in the Dominator is its heat sinks (Fig. 2), with their Dual-path Heat Exchange (DHX) design. There are four heat sinks. The inner heat sinks are attached to the circuit board that has been designed with plenty of copper to provide good power as well as good thermal distribution. The outer heat sinks work with the top of the memory chips.

Conduction brings the heat from both sides of the chips to the heat sinks. These in turn are cooled by convection air cooling. This approach provides significantly more cooling capability than the conventional memory module design.

Keeping memory cooling has a number of implications in high performance systems. It improves reliability and component life. It also allows overclocking, which always increases the amount of heat generated by the system.

The Dominator design makes the units taller than the conventional memory modules. This is not a problem in our project or in most environments where there is plenty of physical headroom. It can be a consideration for more compact, embedded applications, so your mileage may vary.

Still, the Dominator makes a great deal of sense in high performance embedded designs where there is enough room. Convection cooling is often utilized to increase reliability and to keep a system quiet. Massive heat sinks are used for cooling the processor — so why not provide the memory with the same capability? The Dominator provides this option.

The heat sinks are nickel-plated, which allows assembly with solder or epoxy. The heat sinks have the maximum fin size allowed by the physical envelope. Each is black-anodized, giving the modules their distinctive look.

Related Links
Corsair Memory

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