Cherry have introduced a new technology at CES today, which will finally solve the issue of laggy “debounce delay”. When you press a key on your keyboard, a voltage is sent to a digital controller, letting it know when it a key is “on”. The problem with this is that there when a key is pressed down, there are minute bounces that occur, which can trip the digital signal. To eliminate accidental switch engagement, the digital controller waits to see if the key is actually pressed. This phenomenon is called switch debouncing. According to Cherry, this delay is around 20 ms on average.
Some manufacturers have claimed to increase responsiveness by increasing the polling rate and things like that. But it’s just the way digital controllers work – the only solution to this is to use an analog controller to detect key presses quicker, and that’s exactly what Cherry has done. They are calling this “RealKey”, and it is said to lower the debounce delay from 20 ms to about 1 ms – the absolute polling limit of USB.
The new analog controller also eliminates ghosting completely, though many of today’s keyboards handle that themselves already.
If you’re wondering where you’ll see Cherry RealKey keyboards, the answer may surprise you. Instead of licensing it to manufacturers, they are bringing out their own branded gaming keyboard. The Cherry MX Board 6.0 will be the only keyboard that uses RealKey for some time. As for the keyboard itself, it will feature standard Cherry MX switches in red, blue, brown, or black, and will be red backlit (with some keys that are blue). They aren’t even using their own RGB switches, which may tell us something about the yields they’re getting (Corsair’s exclusive deal is said to be ending some time this year). This video introduces the new keyboard and technology visually:
We’ll have to wait and see how such a vast improvement in responsiveness affects performance. It certainly doesn’t feel like there’s a significant lag when I use a keyboard, and I am actually quite sensitive to this sort of thing.