Understanding The Basics of Computer Memory - RAM
Since computers do not perform basic tasks without it, memory forms a critical component of a computing system.
There are Two Basic Types of Computer Memory:
- Primary memory (RAM and ROM)
- Secondary memory (hard drive, CD, etc.)
Primary-volatile memory is random access memory (RAM) and primary-non-volatile memory is read-only memory (ROM).
RAM is much easier to read from and write to, as compared to other forms of storage such as a hard disc drive (HDD), solid-state drive (SSD), or optical drive.
1. Random Access Memory (RAM)
RAM is also referred to as the main memory or the primary memory or read writing memory. It stores all the programs and data required by the CPU during the program execution
RAM is volatile memory as the data is lost when the power is turned off.
2. Read Only Memory (ROM)
ROM keeps vital information, such as the software required to boot the machine, essential for running the device and preserves this data.
ROM is used in embedded systems or devices that don’t require any adjustments for programming. It is mainly used in calculators and computers with peripherals.
ROM is categorized into 4 types: ROM, PROM, EPROM, and EEPROM.
What is RAM Used for?
The computer needs computer memory ram to perform its regular activities, such as loading apps, browsing the web, editing a spreadsheet, or playing the latest game. It also helps you to switch between these tasks easily, knowing when you switch to another task or where you are in the previous task. The more memory you have, the better.
When you turn on your screen and open a spreadsheet to edit, you use memory in many different ways. You use memory for loading and running applications (like excel spreadsheets), responding to commands (like any edits you make in the spreadsheet), or switching between different programs (checking email when you leave the spreadsheet). Your machine almost always actively uses memory.
Advantages of RAM
- RAM does not contain any mechanical moving component, so there is no noise from the hardware.
- RAM requires much less power compared to drives with a mechanical disc. It lowers CO2 emissions and prolongs battery life.
- RAM is considered as the quickest means of storage.
Disadvantages of RAM
Unless there is any power recovery mechanism like a laptop battery, the power outage can cause irrecoverable data loss.
- Space limit
The cost of RAM per bit is high, so computers do not contain a lot of it.
Types of RAM
RAM is further categorized into two types-
- SRAM (Static Random Access Memory)
- DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory)
Let’s look into each in more detail.
SRAM consists of circuits that hold the stored information as long as the power supply is on. SRAM requires constant power supply and is ideal for building cache memory.
SRM Memory Cell
SRAM includes memories that consist of circuits that, as long as power is on, will maintain their state. A latch is generated by two linked inverters, and two transistors are used to connect two-bit lines to the latch.
These transistors act as switches which, under the control of a word line operated by the address decoder, can be opened or closed. The transistors are turned off when the word line is at 0-level, while the latch retains its details.
The word line is triggered by the address input to the address decoder for the reading process. Both the transistors (switches) close the active word line. The sense/write circuit sends the output to the processor at the end of the bit lines.
The address supplied to the decoder triggers the word line for the write operation to close both switches. The bit value written into the cell is given and then the signals are stored in the cell in bit lines via the sense/write circuit.
DRAM stores binary information in the form of electric charges applied to condensers. The information stored on the capacitors appears lost over a period of time and thus, the capacitors must be recharged regularly to maintain their use. In general, DRAM chips make up the main memory.
DRAM Memory Cell
While SRAM is very fast, it is expensive because many transistors are required for each cell. DRAM is comparatively less expensive because it uses one transistor and condenser in each cell. Information gets stored in a DRAM cell in the form of a charge on a capacitor, which requires a regular recharge.
When the transistor is switched on and an appropriate voltage is applied to the bit line, then the information is stored in this cell. This allows the capacitor to store a specified amount of energy. When the transistor is turned off, the transistor begins to discharge because of the capacitor. Therefore, the information stored in the cell can be read correctly only if it is accessed before the charge on the capacitors drops below a specific threshold value.
If your computer's speed (or lack of it) leaves you cold, chances are your computer memory ram is not up to your needs. To act as a team, your computer's processor works with RAM. RAM is like a short-term memory, so you won’t be able to recall everything that happened more than a few seconds ago if you were to bump your head and lose your short-term memory (your RAM). You'd still be able to think perfectly well, though.
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