DRAM and NAND are two common storage options and there are some differences between them which include their designs and their working principles.
You should know all these differences if you really want to make a better choice among the two to make sure it is more effective and productive.
If you are interested in knowing the difference between them, this article entails all of those that will help you differentiate between a Dynamic RAM and NAND easily and quickly.
In This Article
- Dynamic Random Access Memory is a volatile storage while NAND is not and therefore consumes less power in comparison.
- DRAM is a particular type of semiconductor memory but NAND actually refers to a common flash storage.
- A DRAM is made up of a transistor and a capacitor as opposed to the floating gate transistors found in NAND.
The 17 Differences Between DRAM and NAND
1. Full Form
DRAM stands for Dynamic Random Access Memory.
On the other hand, NAND is not an acronym but is the short for NOT AND.
Dynamic RAM is a volatile type of storage which means that you lose the data stored in it when there is a power failure or when you shut down your system.
On the other hand, the NAND is typically a non-volatile storage technology that does not need any power to hold the data stored in it.
DRAM is a kind of semiconductor memory used to store the program code or data required by the processor of the computer to perform.
It is typically used in personal computers, servers and workstations and also in processors, graphics cards, video gaming consoles and other gaming devices.
On the other hand, NAND is a common type of flash memory that is usually used in different types of storage devices such as Solid State Drives or SSDs, Secure Digital or SD cards, and Universal Serial Bus or USB flash drives, MP3 players, modern cell phones and others.
Dynamic RAM is the most common form of system memory that can store data for a very short time. It uses a capacitor for it which leaks electric charge and therefore needs continual refreshing. If it is not refreshed continually, the data stored in it will be lost.
On the other hand, NAND represents a Boolean operator and logic gate and the operator gives a FALSE value only when both the input value is TRUE which is opposite of NOR operator which produces a TRUE value only when the two input values are FALSE.
The Dynamic RAM is located close to the processor on the motherboard that allows faster and direct accessing of data rather than proceeding sequentially right from the start.
On the other hand, usually that is not the case with NAND which normally resides in the devices mentioned above.
The Dynamic RAM stores data in memory cells that are made up of a transistor and a capacitor.
On the other hand, a NAND stores data in an arrangement of memory cells as well but these are made of floating gate transistors. It usually contains two gates namely a floating gate and a control gate.
7. Power Consumption
In the Dynamic RAM there is continual leakage of electric charge which needs constant refreshing and higher consumption of power.
On the other hand, the NAND does not need such high power consumption since there is no loss of charge.
8. Heat Generation
Since the power consumed by the Dynamic RAM is more, as a result, it also produces a larger amount of heat.
On the other hand, the low power consumption by NAND means the heat generation is also less in comparison.
9. Storage Capacity
The range of storage capacity of Dynamic RAM is usually between 1 GB and 16 GB.
On the other hand, the storage capacity offered by NAND depends on the device type and may range anywhere between 128 MB and up to 2 TB.
There are different categories and subcategories of Dynamic RAM such as basic Asynchronous DRAM which includes RAS only Refresh or ROR and CAS before RAS refresh CBR DRAM, Fast Page Mode or FPM DRAM, Extended Data Out or EDO DRAM, Burst EDO or BEDO DRAM, Synchronous or SDRAM, and Rambus or RDRAM.
On the other hand, there are different types, designs and sub-classes on NAND but the three most common types are Single Level Cell or SLC NAND which is considered to be the best, Three Level Cell or TLC NAND which is the cheapest of all the types, and Multi Level Cell or MLC NAND which is denser and can hold more data.
11. Working Process
The working process of the Dynamic RAM involves several basic memory elements. These are reused in accordance with the row and column address pins.
On the other hand, the working principle of the NAND technology combines the flexibility of the EEPROM or Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-only Memory structure and the high density of the EPROM or Erasable Programmable Read-only Memory structure.
The Dynamic RAM is a memory that is usually used to store codes for processes, algorithms, and others.
On the other hand, NAND is typically used to store specific types of data for pictures, music, and more.
The Dynamic RAM may last longer since it does not wear out as quickly as a NAND memory under heavy usage.
On the other hand, NAND will not last long since it will wear out quickly if it is used too much.
14. Cost Factor
The simple ‘one capacitor and one transistor’ design of the Dynamic RAM makes it quite cheaper in terms of dollars per Gigabyte.
On the other hand, the NAND technology is not as cheap as the DRAM.
15. Data Accessing Time
The Dynamic RAMs are much faster due to the ‘Random Access’ ability to get to any memory address.
On the other hand, the sequential approach while accessing data of NAND makes it much slower to perform in comparison.
16. Bit Alterable and Bit Addressable
The bit alterable and bit addressable feature of the Dynamic RAM offers it the speed advantage. Bit alterable means that new data can be overwritten directly without needing erasing the existing stored information.
Bit addressable means accessing every separate bit of data and not in larger blocks that is referred to as ‘page read.’
On the other hand, in NAND the existing information stored in the device needs to be erased first and it is only then new data can be stored in it.
Not being bit alterable or bit addressable, NAND cannot offer the type of performance required typically for main memory.
The Dynamic RAM comes with an architecture that follows a simple logic while handling all accesses from the processor of the computer system to the main memory of it.
There are memory controllers with one or more memory channels, each of which comprises a data bus and a command or address bus. In the default case, this is usually 64 bits wide.
On the other hand, the architecture of the NAND technology allows reading data and programming them in pages which normally range between 4 KiB and 16 KiB in size.
However, the architecture does not allow writing directly at the block level because it needs erasing all the cells and setting them logically to 1.
Which is More Important – DRAM or NAND?
Ideally, NAND is a non-volatile memory and DRAM is a volatile memory. Just based on this factor, you may think that NAND is much better than DRAM.
However, when you consider the other differences between them and the advantages offered by the Dynamic RAMs, you may be proved wrong.
Using a Dynamic RAM in your computer will offer several benefits which include and are not limited to:
- Smaller size
- Ability to delete or refresh while running a program
- Much faster performance than NAND and
- A higher storage capacity.
However, it is not devoid of drawbacks like requiring continual refreshing of data due to leakage of charge, its volatile nature and relatively complicated manufacturing process.
Still, the demand for the DRAM is high and is expected to stay high due to its multiple applications in AI and automation.
In fact, the AI servers need six times the amount of Dynamic RAM and twice the amount of SSDs in comparison to regular servers, several studies found.
The AI-induced DRAM will be high in demand because AI workloads will keep on growing and the hyper-scale data centers, which are larger than football fields, will need more and more memory in the future.
Another area where Dynamic RAM is essentially required is in cloud computing, over and above the consumer electronics and personal computers sphere.
The Dynamic RAM is also a better storage solution in other areas and fields as well due to its unique features such as lower latencies and higher capacities.
The specific types of industries that find these to be important driving factors of DRAM to be used in their applications include and are not limited to:
- Health care
- Data centers
- Networking systems and
- Smart factories.
Dynamic Random Access Memory will also play a crucial role in the IoT or Internet of Things industry, once again due to its lower latency.
The sharp surge in demand for DRAM in these evolving technologies can be seen, for example, in those driverless cars that need more than 80 GB of DRAM as opposed to only 5.5 GB in personal computers and just 2.5 GB in handsets.
However, while Dynamic RAM is the memory of the future when more and more companies move to AI and shift their storage centers to the cloud, this is not the only memory type that is experiencing an up-cycle and AI demand bash.
People also usually prefer using NAND storage devices because there are several benefits offered by them such as:
- These are better than hard disk drives especially for applications lower than 4 GB
- These devices consume reasonably low power and therefore generate much less heat and
- These lightweight devices offer a much better performance due to the non-volatile nature of NAND which allows them to save and retain the data even after power failure.
Therefore, the development of NAND technology fulfills its ulterior motive which is to offer a much improved storage capacity and at the same time lower the cost of storage per bit.
In simple words it can be said that the Dynamic RAM is that specific memory that is usually used by the computer while NAND is a type of a hard disk.
The number of Program/Erase cycles of NAND is pretty high, which however may vary according to its type, but it may support as many as 100,000 write cycles.
It is quite high as compared to the Dynamic RAM but, remember, it will not be as long as a DRAM under heavy usage.
NAND is also the memory at the edge since it is ideal for portable usage and devices because it does not need any power to retain data and is easily replaceable.
The storage capacity offered is also quite high by them and most importantly it is more cost effective per byte.
The NAND technology is also quite exciting and more and more AI based devices will also use this semiconductor technology in the future.
Therefore, there will also be a significant increase in the demand for memory chips based on NAND technology which can operate at the edge at its best due to their ability to store large amounts of data.
According to a market survey report of Industry Research, the global size of the NAND market is expected to reach 47800 million US dollars by the end of 2026 which was about 15540 million dollars in 2020.
This indicates a Compound Annual Growth Rate or CAGR of 20.6%.
It is all due to improvements in AI technologies and its adoption in those embedded systems.
It is expected that the market of the AI-optimized processors for edge computing systems will increase as a result of it at a compound annual rate of 65% in 2023.
NAND memory is thought to be accounting for 40% of the entire global chip storage by the end of 2025, up from 18% in 2018.
Once again, the main reason for such a drive is the extensive use of the AI-enabled devices that need more storage and computing power at the edge.
So, it can be said in simple words that both DRAM and NAND are quite important for the future resulting in their high demand and tremendous market growth.
Now, knowing all the major differences between a Dynamic RAM and NAND you can easily make a choice between the two.
However, as explained in this article, none of the two can be ignored due to their potential to become the memory for the future.