RAM (Random Access Memory) is the hardware in a computer or laptop that stores the operating system (OS), application programs, and data in use so that the CPU can access them rapidly. A computer’s primary memory is known as RAM. Other types of storage, such as a hard disc drive (HDD), solid-state drive (SSD), or optical drive, are substantially slower to read from and write to.
Random Access Memory (RAM) is a volatile storage medium. This indicates that data is stored in RAM while the computer is turned on, but it is lost when the machine is turned off. The OS and other data are reloaded into RAM when the machine is restarted, generally from an HDD or SSD.
RAM can’t store persistent data due of its instability. A hard disc drive may be likened to a person’s long-term memory, while RAM can be compared to a person’s short-term memory. Short-term memory is focused on the task at hand, but it can only hold a certain amount of things in mind at any given moment. When a person’s short-term memory is full, data from the brain’s long-term memory can be used to replenish it.
This is how a computer operates as well. When RAM becomes full, the computer’s CPU must continually access the hard drive to replace old data in RAM with fresh data. The computer’s performance is slowed as a result of this procedure.
A computer’s hard disc can fill up to the point that it can’t accept any more data, but RAM never runs out. The combination of RAM and storage memory, on the other hand, might be entirely depleted.
What is RAM and how does it work?
Because every storage location, also known as any memory address, may be accessed directly, the phrase random access is used to RAM. To distinguish ordinary core memory from offline memory, the term Random Access Memory was first used.
Offline memory was most commonly used to refer to magnetic tape from which a given piece of data could only be accessed by progressively identifying the address, starting at the beginning of the tape. Data may be saved and retrieved directly to and from specified areas since RAM is ordered and managed in such a way.
Other forms of storage, such as hard drives and CD-ROMs, are accessed directly or randomly as well, although the word “random access” isn’t used to describe them.
RAM is conceptually analogous to a group of boxes, each of which may carry a 0 or a 1. Each box has a unique address that may be obtained by counting down the rows and across the columns. An array is a collection of RAM boxes, and each box is referred to as a cell.
The RAM controller transfers the column and row addresses down a small electrical wire carved into the chip to locate a specific cell. In a RAM array, each row and column has its own address line. Any data that is read is returned to the user on a separate data line.
RAM is stored in microchips and is physically tiny. It’s also limited in terms of data storage capacity. A standard laptop computer has 8 gigabytes of RAM and a hard disc with a capacity of 10 terabytes.
A hard drive, on the other hand, stores information on a magnetic surface that resembles a vinyl record. An SSD, on the other hand, stores data on nonvolatile memory chips, unlike RAM. They are not reliant on continuous power and will not lose data if the power is switched off. Memory modules are made up of RAM microchips that have been grouped together. These fit into slots on the motherboard of a computer. The motherboard slots are connected to the processor through a bus, which is a network of electrical channels.
Users may usually install RAM modules up to a specified capacity on most PCs. The number of times the CPU needs read data from the hard drive, which takes longer than reading data from RAM, is reduced when a computer has more RAM. The access time to RAM is measured in nanoseconds, whereas the access time to store memory is measured in milliseconds.
RAM’s several types
There are two types of RAM:
- The RAM in a common computing device is made up of Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM), which, as previously said, requires electricity to preserve recorded data.
A charge or lack of charge is stored in an electrical capacitor in each DRAM cell. To compensate for leakage from the capacitator, this data must be updated every few milliseconds using an electrical charge. A transistor acts as a gate, deciding whether the value of a capacitor may be read or written.
- Random Access Memory (SRAM) requires constant power to store data, although it does not need to be updated as frequently as DRAM.
Instead of a capacitor retaining the charge in SRAM, the transistor functions as a switch, with one position representing 1 and the other representing 0. In comparison to dynamic RAM, which only requires one transistor per bit, static RAM requires multiple transistors to store one bit of data. As a result, SRAM chips are bigger and more expensive than DRAM chips of the same capacity.
SRAM, on the other hand, is substantially quicker and consumes significantly less power than DRAM. Because of the price and speed disparities, static RAM is mostly employed as cache memory inside a computer’s CPU.