During the last months, a new WS2812 alternative appeared on the market: The SK6812. I finally managed to get my hands on some of them to take a closer look. In most aspects these devices are basically clones of the WS2812. What is interesting however, is that the manufacturer came up with a couple of new variations of the stock 5050 RGB LED.
As with many components from mainland china, it seems very difficult to identify the actual manufacturer of these devices, as vendors tend to rebrand data sheets. It appears that at least one of the original manufacturers is Opsco Optoelectronics. However, it is likely that there is more than one manufacturer is using the SK6812 brand, which does possibly only refer to the controller chip itself. The “SK” prefix, on the other hand, is normally used by Shenzhen Sikewei Electronics, which seems to specialize on speech ICs and similar low-cost applications. Are they connected? No idea…
The image above compares the “grandfather”, the WS2812S, with two new devices based on the SK6812 controller. The SK6812 is a direct clone of the WS2812B, while the SK6812mini comes in a smaller package with a 3.5×3.5mm² footprint. This is quite useful, since it allows more dense matrix displays than with the normal 5.0×5.0mm² packages.
Another, less obvious, difference is in the size of the controller IC and LED dies. The SK6812 is actually a bit smaller than the WS2812: Based on a rough measurement, the WS2812 is approximately 0.8×1.05=0.84 mm² while the SK6812 measures 0.6×0.8=0.5 mm². This suggests that the SK6812 is indeed a complete redesign. The smaller chip size should, in principle, also lead to lower cost. Although this depends on the manufacturing technology as well. In the same vein, the SK6812 also uses slighly smaller LED dies. This is most likely another measure to reduce cost.
For more detail: The SK6812 – another intelligent RGB LED