Rickroll ASIC heralded as a world first – this chip is never gonna let you down

Rickroll ASIC chip
(Image credit: Matthias ‘bitluni’ Balwierz)

German TechTuber Matthias ‘bitluni’ Balwierz has designed a “first of its kind” application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) which has a deviously humorous purpose. He got the ASIC manufactured via Tiny Tapeout, and the video below shows that plugging it into a display adapter results in an instant Rickroll.

Bitluni explains that his ASIC’s specific purpose was to display a Rickroll animation. You can see it is quite a basic animation, and it is said to be based on an animated GIF with 32x32 pixels, which uses 512 bytes on the chip. In effect, this ASIC is described as a ‘ROM’ that simply holds the data of an animation.

Shortly after the intro, the ASIC Bitluni designed is shown on a small carrier PCB, which is then attached to a VGA board – one of Bitluni’s previous electronics maker projects. Plugging this into a monitor will ‘surprise’ the victim with the infamous Rickroll animation.

Bitluni’s meme-silicon project was enabled by the Tiny Tapeout Program. He submitted this Rickroll project, alongside some of his more serious silicon chip designs, to Matt Venn's Tiny Tapeout 2 (TT2). The project provided 165 pieces of silicon real estate to contributors. You can see the Rickroll ASIC Bitluni designed highlighted in the first slide, below.

Elsewhere in the video, it is explained that everyone who was part of the TT2 program got the same chip and a manual with instructions to access any of the designs via the Caravel microcontroller wrapper for the user projects. Tiny Tapeout has a demo board with DIP switches making it easy to select and test any of the 165 projects. However, Bitluni wanted to make his project neater and therefore designed a dedicated PCB for the chip to make accessing his project a cinch.

(Image credit: Matthias ‘bitluni’ Balwierz)

There have been five Tiny Tapeout chip projects so far. You can read about them all, and find out about all the project submissions via the above linked TT2 page. Bitluni’s YouTube channel may also be worth further investigation if you like this project and are interested in building similar projects, gadgets, and so on.

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.