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What is RAM (Random Access Memory)?
Random Access Memory (RAM) is a type of computer memory that is used to temporarily store data that the computer is currently processing. It is a volatile memory, which means that the data stored in RAM is lost when the computer is turned off or restarted.
RAM allows the processor to access data quickly, which can improve the performance of a computer. The amount of RAM a computer has can affect its ability to run multiple programs or perform memory-intensive tasks.
- RAM is typically measured in gigabytes (GB) and is one of the key specifications to consider when upgrading a computer.
- RAM is a volatile form of storage that helps the CPU to access the necessary data for operation in quick time.
- There are different types of RAMs available such as Static RAM, Dynamic RAM, Synchronous DRAM, Double Data Rate RAM, Rambus DRAM, Extended Data Output RAM and Video RAM.
- There are different types of RAM modules available such as SIMM, DIMM, SODIMM, and RIMM.
- Different sizes of RAM are available ranging from 4 GB to 128 GB for different purposes such as basic computing tasks, gaming and editing, complex graphics, and high-end computing tasks.
Understanding RAM (Random Access Memory)
The RAM or Random Access Memory is a form of speedy temporary computer memory.
It can be used to read and interpret data in any manner and with the same speed, no matter where data is stored in the storage drive, external or internal, close or far physically. It is, in fact, the fastest part of your PC.
It is a volatile form of storage, meaning that it doesn’t actually have the ability to store data once your device shuts off.
Whatever data it stores is for a short time, and every time you restart your device it is refreshed.
There is a fixed amount of RAM that your system requires for basic functioning, but whatever else is left you may use for running other applications.
The more of these you run at the same time, the more RAM you will require. Also, some part of RAM is taken up by the functions running in the background.
Usually, the operating system and the program opened is stored in the RAM from the HDD or the SSD when you switch on the computer.
This data is used by the CPU to perform the necessary tasks allowing it to have faster access.
However, when the RAM is full of data, the CPU then goes to the hard disk to place the old necessary data in the RAM and fill it with new data.
RAM is used by almost every component of a computer. The storage capacity of the RAM determines the performance and purpose of a computer.
Therefore, it is required to have an adequate amount of RAM in the computer to store the software programs and operating system to make the system run fast.
Accessing RAM happens in random and not sequentially which is why it is faster than hard drives and CDs.
This means that the access to RAM is not dependent on the address.
What is RAM Used for?
The main function of the RAM in your PC, laptop, or smartphone is to store information about a task until it is running or if it has been used recently.
If the processor had to reach out for the main storage for opening a new tab in your browser, for example, it would take a lot of time for it to do so.
The presence of RAM allows you to open and work on such applications faster, but the data you download gets stored in your SSD or HDD storage.
Types of RAM
Following are the main types of RAMs:
The SRAM is more of an internal RAM and is mostly used with a CPUs cache memory.
The Static RAM uses its circuitry to hold information and thus doesn’t require electricity periodically to keep working as the following DRAM.
But it too is volatile, and once power is removed the information stored in it is erased. SRAM is quite expensive.
DRAM or Dynamic RAMs are the ones with capacitors, that require constant electricity to function, or else they forget what was stored in them.
Each of the DRAM cells has one transistor and one capacitor.
Once the charge stored in the capacitor depletes than a minimum value, the memory cannot be read anymore.
Synchronous RAMs also have capacitors, but they are faster than DRAMs since they run in sync with the system clock.
This is why you get a better speed as the data is moved on both upper and lower frequencies of the CPU clock.
- DDR RAM
Double data Rate RAM is the current type of SDRAM that is used commonly. It not only offers twice the speed than non-DDR RAMs but is priced at affordable limits.
They have both high transfer rates and capacities. While DDR5 is yet to be launched, the DDR4 type of some brands can reach speeds of about 6000 MHz with overclocking.
The Rambus DRAM or RDRAM uses a RIMM (Rambus-in-line memory module) that is better than the usual DIMMs, due to the presence of the Rambus channel.
It has a 184 pin configuration and the RAMBUS chips are attached by solder. These solders help to conduct electric currents.
- EDO RAM
While it is outdated now, the Extended Data Output type of RAM was prevalent in many computers even in the 1990s.
It worked best with the Intel Pentium processors. They have been replaced with the SDRAMs.
This is a special RAM that is dedicated to running video and graphics on your PC.
It has the functions same as RAM but stores data regarding graphics and modern workstations, games, editing software, and others require separate GPUs with different VRAMs.
Type of RAM Modules
Now there are different RAM modules that have been used and replaced by better ones. Each of these had a separate number of pins for connection and different speeds. Each motherboard supports only a specific type of RAM module so only earlier motherboards would support SIMMs and so on. They are as follows:
The full-form of SIMM is Standard inline memory module. It was launched in the 1980s and used widely until the late 90s.
Each SIMM module has multiple ICs, each with numerous transistors where data was actually stored.
It can transfer 32-bit data, and has a max of 72 pins.
The Dual inline Memory Module transfers 64 bit per cycle, and has a maximum of 288 pins.
They are much faster and thus they are used most commonly. The pins used are independent of each other.
The more the number of pins, the faster is the data travel.
It is a smaller and thinner version of the DIMMs that has thus been named as Small Outline DIMM.
It is an alternative to DIMMs and offers similar performance to them.
SO-DIMMs are available in different pin variants like 100, 144 200, 204 and 260 pins and are mostly used in portable computing devices like tablets and laptops.
The RAMBUS inline Memory module or RAMBUS was launched in 1999 short-lived due to the arrival of the SDRAMs, but it was much faster than contemporary memory modules with speeds of about 800 MHz and a 16-bit bus for data travel.
The number of pins in such a RAM was 184. This has been replaced by XDR RAM now.
How Does RAM Work?
The RAM is available in modules and is placed in your motherboard which has 2-4 dedicated slots for storing it. A typical RAM module looks like a small ruler, with golden connectors on one side.
Now how does it work? Well for running one or any software, data is moved from the hard disk to the RAM. The CPU can thus access this data fast, wasting no time to wait.
Had it remained in the hard disk or even in the SSD, it would have taken some time to open the basic software and a lot of time to run that game you play or the editing software you work on.
So when you issue a command, your computer takes the data allocated in the RAM and processes it, and might even change it, of course in the form of binary code (0s and 1s).
How to Select RAM?
The amount of RAM you need in your setup depends on your requirements. But one thing is definite for all, you must have more than what your PC requires at minimum.
This is because if you have less RAM and while working you use up all of it, data will have to move back to the primary storage drive and will be accessed from there instead of the RAM, thus slowing down your computer.
To prevent this from happening, it is necessary to have some extra memory. The following are the main factors to consider while buying RAM.
- Size: The capacity or size of your RAM will depend on what sort of work you will be doing on your PC. It is available in different variants like 4 GB, 8 GB, and 16+ GB when you buy it.
- For basic computing, you need to have at least 4-8 GB of RAM. This much memory is enough for web browsing, both online and offline video playing, and such other tasks.
- For gaming, editing, and everything on that level, there should be 8-16 GB of RAM in your system. These require a greater memory and though not all games require so much of memory, it is good to have that excess amount.
- Furthermore complex graphics rendering and heavier software, and you should have 16-32 GB of RAM.
- The most RAM supported by an average PC is about 64 GB. But high-end PCs that are built to work similar high-end tasks support up to 128 GB of RAM. You wouldn’t need that much unless you are working with AUTOCAD or machine language.
The next factor comes to speed. We know we have said that the RAM is the fastest component, but there are yet divisions in RAM speeds.
For example, the minimum speed of DDR4 RAM is around 2400 MHz, while you can get models up to 3666 MHz.
The speed of the RAM is not such a great factor, but it does have an impact on performance. But remember to not compromise on the size in exchange for speed.
Number of Modules
The more of the RAM modules you have for your PC, the better it is. Like using two 8 GB RAM sticks rather than a single 16 GB.
It has been proven that using more than a single RAM module can actually boost the PC’s performance.
Also, in case one of the modules goes bad, the other can at least let you use the PC until you get a replacement.
But if you are tight on budget, your PC has only two RAM slots or would upgrade to more RAM soon, go with a single 8 GB module instead of 2 GBs.
Questions & Answers:
What is stored in RAM?
The RAM stores information and data about whatever you are doing currently, for example viewing this article on one of the tabs on your browser, while music is playing in the background. The extremely fast speed of the RAM allows you to do all these comfortably.
Why is RAM important in a computer?
The RAM is not only important but also inseparable in a computer. This is because, under ordinary circumstances, you couldn't even turn on your PC without using it. The RAM is very important for your CPU to access data at a high speed.
How long can RAM last?
Usually, RAM can last for a really long time unless it is damaged because of certain causes. Chances are, it would rather get obsolete than wearing out. Once you install a RAM module in the system, rest assured it will ride out the other parts of your PC.
Is RAM a computer memory?
Yes, the RAM is a sort of computer memory. Only, it is temporary and volatile in nature.
What is RAM made of?
Memory chips in RAM are made from Silicon.
Does RAM die over time?
There has been no instance whatsoever in which the RAM of a computer has degraded on its own. But some external factors, like excessive heat, an electronic surge, etc can damage RAM.
Which RAM is the fastest?
The SDRAM is the fastest type of RAM available. When the generation is concerned, it would be the DDR5 which may not be in the markets yet but is the fastest RAM as of now and that too with a lower voltage consumption (1.1 V).
The commonly used RAM today is the DDR4 type.
Can data be recovered from RAM?
RAM being a volatile form of memory, doesn’t retain data for long. It only stores data as long as your OS thinks it's necessary, or while you are using a task. Once you close the task or shut down the power supply of your PC, there is no way you can retrieve what was present on your RAM.
Can a computer run without RAM?
No, this is not possible. You would see an error message concerned with this issue, accompanied by beeps from your CPU that will remind you about the absence of RAM.
Unless you have a BIOS setting that allows you to do so, you cannot run a PC without RAM. Even then, your PC would run very slow no matter what the other specs may be.
RAM (Random Access Memory) is a volatile form of computer memory that is used to temporarily store data that the computer is currently processing.
It allows the processor to access data quickly, which can improve the performance of a computer. RAM is measured in gigabytes and is one of the key specifications to consider when upgrading a computer.
There are different types of RAMs available, such as SRAM, DRAM, SDRAM, DDR RAM, RDRAM, EDO RAM, and VRAM.
The storage capacity of the RAM determines the performance and purpose of a computer, and accessing RAM happens in random and not sequentially, which is why it is faster than hard drives and CDs.
Therefore, it is important to have an adequate amount of RAM in the computer to store the software programs and operating system to make the system run fast.