What is Random Access Memory?


Computers are a great source of information and the memory systems used in computers nowadays are really advanced. The technology, as we have discussed, is growing at an exponential rate. Something that is relevant today might not be relevant three months from now. Random Access Memory or RAM is a type of data storage that is located on the motherboard.

In this blog, we will understand more about RAM.

There are 2 types of memories:

  1. Volatile memory

  2. Non-volatile memories

Volatile memory is a memory that is temporary and non-volatile memory is the one which can store data permanently without any issues. RAM is a type of volatile memory and ROM is a type of non-volatile memory. We will just stay with RAM for this particular post.

Many a times we need information to be stored, so that we can use that information on the go whenever needed. It could be contacts on your phone, resources to run a particular game on your laptop or desktop, or it could be someone’s address. So, in our case, someone’s visiting card could be the information we might need in near future but not always. Such information we will store in the RAM.

Also read – What are the motherboard and its classification?

Why RAM?

Random Access Memory or RAM as the name suggests can be accessed randomly. Now what do we mean when we say, it can be randomly accessed.

Let us understand this with an example.

We all have been to schools and sat on benches and desk. Every desk or bench has a small drawer or compartment below it where we can keep our books, compasses and stuff that we need for the day in it. When such compartments are provided we keep our books there for the respective subjects so that we can find them easily. Imagine, if there were no drawers or space to store your books, you had to access your bag every time you need a book and that would lead to searching and finding it from scratch. This would lead to waste of time. Also, if the books and compasses are kept in those drawer, we can easily take out the needed books and start for the day.

Similar is the concept and working of RAM. Everything you do on the computer has been stored temporarily on a RAM. Hence, we can easily access our files and save it. We get easy read and write access, so we do not have to search for the files all over again and again and waste time.

Difference between RAM and Hard Drive?

We all have been through scenarios when our systems hang or the operating system crashes and we lose out on the file which we were working on. Most of the time we have to rework the file since it is not saved probably or the changes you made after the last save sometimes do not reflect. Such cases happen because most of our work is on the RAM and not on the hard drive. Hard drive and RAM have 2 different meanings, but still some people use it interchangeably with each other. 1 GB RAM does not necessarily mean the same as 1 GB hard disk.

RAM is a temporary memory as we have been discussing so far. Hence, it can only store the file for one single session. To be clear, let us understand this, whenever we switch off our systems or whenever our systems hang or crash, they restart themselves again. In such cases, we do not see any file open in the system. The reason is, RAM cannot save the contents on it forever and hence the data is erased once the system is switched on.  So, once a session is over (switching on and off the computer is 1 session) the open files are no longer available. Hard disk on the other side can save the contents even after the computers are switched off and switched on.

Also read – Types of computer memory?

How much RAM do you need?

Just like we shop for clothes, daily items and other stuff as per our needs and requirements, the size of your RAM also varies as per your needs.

Hence, most of the high-end software and gaming application have a minimum requirements of usage.

So if high-end games like Counter-Strike and Warcraft demand a minimum requirement of 4GB of RAM or 8 GB of RAM, it will need a minimum of 4 or 8 GB of RAM for smooth performance. If anything lesser than the requirement is used, the gaming experience is sure to get a drastic drop.

But, if you use your computers or laptops for lighter use, for example, streaming videos and watching photos or surfing internet, 2 GB or 4 GB of RAM would be more than enough. It is enough to give you a smooth experience.

So, I think this is all about Random Access Memory or RAM.

The Bottom Line

RAM is the most crucial component of any electronic device nowadays. It could be a laptop, desktop or even your smartphones. Most of the smartphones these days have been launched with minimum of 4 GB of RAM and I guess, OnePlus 6T Mcclaren Edition was the first ever smartphone that was sporting a whopping 10 GB of RAM. The best part about this is, those are just not numbers, but they do deliver the kind of performance any user expects from a 10 GB RAM smartphone. Coming back, I hope this article has helped you understand the meaning of RAM and its importance.

Do let us know in the comments below about your understanding of RAM.

Stay tuned for more stuff with us related to computer fundamentals and enjoy the ride.

Keep learning and keep smiling!!!

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