RAM is one of the essential components of our computer hardware. Even smartphones these days have RAM since they act as small computers. RAM is super fast, allowing a computer to store temporary data in the present and in the near future as well. The way a computer works is that it always loads up processes simultaneously and one by one. RAM acts as a short-term memory for your computer.
In contrast, the hard drive or SSD of the computer is known as long-term memory, where your documents and other files are stored more or less permanently. This is just the beginning; in this article, we’ll break down the importance of RAM to our computers. We will also explore the different types of RAM, their functions, and what makes RAM different from ROM. Let’s get started, shall we?
Definition of RAM
RAM, as we said, is temporary storage that will empty out its components when you turn off the power. So what is the use of a memory that loses its files when the power is turned off? Well, without RAM, your computer is not going to function or even start at all. RAM, as we said, is pretty fast when we compare it to our hard drives. This makes it an ideal memory to store the process on which the computer is working at present and requires quick access to the files. For example, right now, the web browser you are using is working off the RAM storage, not the hard drive, as your computer processor requires accessing files continuously to keep the web browser running.
A Practical Example of RAM
Let’s take a moment to explain how RAM works. So you are in the office, and you have your own desk. There are a number of shelves on the right and left of yours. These shelves are present in the form of a rack. Now, if you take out one of the files from the rack and scribble something on it, then you will place it on the top shelf of your rack. So if you need to see its content, you can take it out and go through it once more.
The RAM, in contrast to the above example, works exactly like the top shelf does with the other shelves present in the rack. If you are not going to use the files after some time, or even on the same day, You can put them in their place, in the lower drawers.
The main function of RAM is that it provides users with the ability to access a number of programs at once with speed as well as efficiency.
How does RAM Work?
RAM stores the data, which is essential for your computer to keep on running. It could be loading your OS, loading up your websites, editing documents, and more. RAM makes it possible for you to open multiple apps and switch between them whenever you want. without causing the previous apps to lose their data or close abruptly.
RAM stores the data and files of the running apps so your computer can find them in the shortest time possible. Keeping the memory that your system more often needs is maintained in RAM so the system can access it with ease. RAM is designed in a way that it works with tiny bits of data at a time. For example, when you click on the link to go to a new website, The series of capacitors and the transistors present in the RAM circuit board turn on and off. Thus, letting your computer translate the link into the web page you are able to see on the screen.
The name “random access” is used because it doesn’t use the priority system to provide you with the files your system needs. RAM is directly connected to your motherboard using a specific slot that is created to provide a direct connection between the RAM and the processor. With more RAM in your computer, it gives you more power to open multiple applications at the same time. But keep in mind, even RAM has its threshold, meaning after a certain level, even if you increase the quantity of your RAM, you are still not going to see any improvement in performance.
Does more RAM Mean more Speed for Computer Processing?
This is true, but up to a certain level, if you are not working on massive rendering projects or 3D modelling projects, you are good with 16 GB of RAM. If you plan on playing video games and streaming online, having more than 32GB of RAM in your system is overkill. Most computers have a RAM limit of 64 GB or 120 GB if you are using the best of the best motherboard and processor. After you cross this limit, no matter how many more sticks you add to your motherboard, they will not show up in the operating system. For mass-market personal computers, there is no financial advantage to providing a number of RAM sockets, address lines, or any other form of hardware that is not necessary to run mass-market software.
RAM limits can be overcome using a number of special techniques, such as bank switching. This technique makes it possible for the user to allow a block of RAM memory to be switched into the processor’s address space when required via program control.
History of RAM
Williams Tubes were used to make the first RAM form in 1947. Data in these RAMs was stored as charged spots on the face of Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs). We were then introduced to the second type of RAM, which contains a magnetic core memory. Likewise, it was invented in 1947, and it consists of a small metal ring attached to a wire.
The loop present in this form of RAM contains 1 bit of data, and it can be accessed by the system at any time. RAM, which we now know as solid-state memory, was invented by Robert Denard in 1968 at IBM. On the other hand, this version of RAM is also known as Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) and has transistors that are used for storing bits of data. Moreover, in order for a computer to supply a constant power supply, it is necessary to maintain the state of each transistor.
In 1969, Intel came up with its first-ever DRAM, the Intel 1103, and it was the first commercial DRAM that was sold to customers. Then came the KM48SL2000 Simultaneous DRAM (SDRAM), developed by Samsung in 1993. From 1999 to 1999, DRAM was not available for consumer-based computers. DDR2 SDRAM became widely available in 2003. In 2007, DDR3 SDRAM came to the market, and then it became the common norm to have DDR3 memory in your computer. In September 2014, DDR4 became available in the market.
Types of RAM
There are two types of RAM, and each of them is defined in this section. Keep in mind that both of these RAMs are volatile in nature, meaning the contents of RAM are lost when the power or the system is turned off.
1. Static RAM (SRAM)
This RAM maintains the state of data as long as the power is turned on. It has memory cells, and unlike dynamic RAM, it does not require power to prevent the memory cells from leaking power. As a result, the system does not need static RAM to be constantly updated on a regular basis. This makes static RAM much faster than DRAM. Static RAM comes with a special arrangement of transistors, which makes the flip-flops a type of memory cell.
A single bit of data is stored in one memory cell, and most modern SRAM cells are made up of CMOS transistors but without using the capacitors. When we compare the arrival time of SRAM with DRAM, we can see that the SRAM chipset takes 10ns (nanoseconds). At the same time, the same processing will take 50ns in DRAM.
The cycle time is also shorter in SRAM as it does not stop due to updates from the system. As a result, SRAM is used in creating the caching system of computers. It is also used for fast recording and small memory banks that work as frame buffers for graphics cards.
SRAM is faster in a 6-transistor circuit configuration because the current continues to flow in one or the other direction via status 1 or 0. These statuses can be read or written instantly without having capacitors to wait to fill or drain. The only drawback of using SRAM is that memory cells present in static RAM take more space than the ones that are used in the DRAM for the same amount of storage space.
2. Dynamic RAM (DRAM)
DRAM also includes memory cells, but the integrated circuit used by DRAM is made up of millions of transistors and tiny capacitors. These capacitors are all lined up in each transistor to create a compact memory cell. Thus, in a single DRAM chip, you are getting millions of capacitors in a single memory. Each cell here in DRAM is also used to store one bit of data in the capacitor, which is a part of an integrated circuit.
The system needs to keep on updating the DRAM in order to maintain the charge present in them. That’s why it is called “dynamic RAM,” as it requires constant change to maintain the data. Otherwise, the memory will flush out its contents. There are two types of DRAM, and they are:
Asynchronous DRAM-This is out of sync with RAM with the CPU clock. Thus, the drawback of this RAM is that the CPU does not know the exact timing when the data will be sent to the processor on the I/O bus. Because of this limitation, the next-generation RAM, called concurrent RAM, was developed.
Synchronous DRAM (SDRAM) was first used in 1996; here, the RAM is in sync with the CPU clock. This will help in increasing the number of instructions that the processor can perform at any given time.
Functions of RAM
The primary function of RAM is to provide fast temporary memory storage and workspace for the data and the program code. This includes both the applications and the operating system that are installed on the computer. In addition to this, any of the storage devices, no matter if they’re internal or external, uses RAM to transfer their temporary data to the CPU for processing. Apart from these primary functions, RAM does have a bunch of other functionalities, and these are written down below:–
RAM is also used as a RAM disk, which means the storage space of RAM is used as a virtual hard drive for the system. Your system will assign a letter to the RAM, and it will appear exactly like a conventional disc drive, except it will have a much better speed of data transfer.
Apart from this, some operating systems might use RAM as their shadow RAM. What this means is that the contents of the BIOS setting are stored in the system’s Read-Only Memory (ROM). But in the case of shadow RAM, these contents are copied from ROM to RAM. From there, your system will be using the BIOS code, which is copied to the RAM. The code present in the ROM will be used as a backup.
Difference between RAM and ROM
Many individuals are perplexed by the terms RAM and ROM. Don’t worry; the distinctions between RAM and ROM are listed below to help you understand what these are and why both of these memory chips are used in modern computers.
|RAM is a volatile memory that stores the data as long as the power in the system is turned on or supplied.||ROM is a non-volatile memory that retains its data even when the power is turned off. The clock in your computer uses ROM, and the bootstrap process uses ROM to load the necessary commands to make your operating system start properly.|
|The data present in RAM could easily be altered and retrieved whenever the user wants it for processing.||You cannot edit, delete, or change the data present in ROM in any way. It can be presented in the form of readable data.|
|The primary use of RAM is to store the data being used by the CPU to complete its process.||The primary use of ROM comes into play when your system is loading up after you press the power button. It loads up all the instructions required during the bootstrap process of the computer.|
|The speed of RAM is pretty high in comparison to ROM, hard drives, and even SSDs.||ROM is pretty slow compared to RAM, hard drives, and your SSDs.|
|When we look at the CPU’s interaction with RAM, we can see that the CPU uses the data present in RAM to finish up the task which is loaded on it.||The CPU has no access to the data present in ROM unless the data present in ROM is copied to RAM with the Shadow RAM technique.|
|The size of RAM is pretty extensive, and because of that, it is able to house millions of transistors in the chipset. This results in a higher capacity and better speed.||Both the physical and memory size of the ROM are pretty tiny. Because it is used to store a specific set of orders in its memory, due to its small size, it also has a small capacity in terms of storage.|
|As a result, it is also used as a CPU cache or its primary memory.||The main purpose of ROM is to store the firmware and information about the microcontroller.|
|The cost of RAM is a bit more when we compare it with the ROM.||ROM is much cheaper than RAM, and it is more readily available when you look for it in both online and offline stores.|
How much RAM do you need In 2022?
It is predicted that by 2022, flagship smartphones will come with 8GB, 12GB, and even 16GB of RAM. However, how much RAM should you have on your computer and smartphone? Since there are more and more apps that we want to use simultaneously, there is a clear need for more RAM. In any case, we recommend 16GB of RAM on desktops and laptops and 8GB of RAM on smartphones.
16GB of RAM in computers is sufficient to help you render heavy 3D files with ease and quickly. You don’t have to wait for hours to get the work done. On the other hand, 16GB is more than enough for you to play AAA video game titles on your computer with no problems. But keep in mind that RAM is not the only thing you need to take care of when building or buying a PC. As a result, a 16GB double-stick configuration is the best for any budget.
So, wrapping up, we hope this article has helped you to get the answers to your questions about RAM and its usage. If you believe we have missed something, Feel free to let us know in the comments section, and we will provide you with the appropriate information for the same. Till then, happy learning!