A computer’s primary function is to store, process, and retrieve data. A computer can store much more data than the human brain can ever store, and it can retrieve them whenever the need arises.
Several components make up a computer system. Each part is crucial to the overall functioning of the computer. Some of these components include the CPU, RAM, motherboard, and hard disk drive.
The RAM, also known as random-access memory, is a type of memory used to store working data that could be read and changed in any order.
So, can a computer run without RAM?
A computer cannot run without RAM. A PC needs RAM to boot. Without RAM, your PC will not boot beyond the Power-On-Self-Test (POST) screen.
Your CPU and computer programs need the RAM to function. The CPU sends data requests to the RAM. The RAM stores information for the CPU to process.
Computer programs use common data stored in the RAM to function. In other words, without RAM, your computer is useless.
So, how does the RAM work? Continue reading for more information.
How The RAM Works
RAM acts as a short-term memory for your computer and its applications to store, access, and process data.
RAM lets your computer carry out many day-to-day tasks like surfing the internet, loading applications, typing a document, or even playing a game. Your laptop can switch between these tasks and still know where you left off because your RAM stores the memory.
The RAM is an adequate repository for the data applications use to function.
The RAM is a temporary memory bank. It does not save data on each chip. Data erase when power no longer flows through the RAM. Therefore, the RAM is a volatile memory.
When there is no more space on your RAM, your computer will begin to use the hard drives. Hard drives are not as fast as the RAM when it comes to data storage.
Your computer may function slowly as a result. It is easier to get information from the RAM than from the hard disk drive or SSD.
Types Of RAM
There are two types of RAM, static random-access memory (SRAM) and dynamic random-access memory (DRAM).
Static random-access memory (SRAM)
SRAM stores each data using latching circuitry. SRAM stores data in a six-transistor memory cell. Static RAM operates mainly as a cache memory for the CPU.
Static RAM has lower access time and is faster than dynamic RAM. It also consumes more power. It is costlier than DRAM and has a lesser storage capacity.
The storage capacity of SRAM ranges from 1MB to 16MB. SRAM is small and has low packaging density. You will find static RAM nestled between your computer’s processor and the main memory.
Static random-access memory operates by changing current direction through switches.
Dynamic random-access memory (DRAM)
Dynamic RAM is the standard memory for modern desktop computers. Unlike SRAM, DRAM consumes less power as it stores its data in capacitors.
Dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) has a separate capacitor to store each data in a specific integrated unit. As a result, it has more storage capacity that ranges from 1GB to 16GB.
DRAM is cheaper than SRAM. However, it is a bit slower than SRAM because it has a higher access time. You will find DRAM in your computer’s motherboard.
Dynamic random-access memory operates by holding the charges.
Other Uses Of The RAM
The RAM acts as a temporal storage for the computer and its applications to function. However, it has other applications. Let us consider some of them.
Most modern computers can extend RAM capacity via a method called virtual memory. How does this work?
A portion of your PC’s hard disk is reserved for a paging file. This portion combines with your computer’s RAM to provide space for extra data when your computer runs know on memory.
Your computer can use a portion of the RAM to act as a faster alternative to HDD.
The RAM is volatile memory, so it loses data when power no longer flows through it.
History And Evolution Of The RAM
Earlier computers did not have random-access memory. They used delay lines for memory function.
Delay lines could reproduce data but only in the pattern in which they were written.
We also had Drum memory. Drum memory was expandable, but the user had to know the physical layout of the drum to retrieve information.
Registers used latches made from vacuum tube triodes and discrete transistors to store data. Registers were smaller and faster memories used to store and process smaller amounts of data.
The Williams tube was the first earliest form of RAM. It could store data as charged spots on the surface of a cathode ray tube. The electronic beam of a cathode ray tube could randomly read and write these spots.
The capacity of the Williams tube ranged from a hundred to a thousand bits. It was smaller and more efficient than the individual latches made from vacuum tube triodes.
In 1947, scientists invented the magnetic-core memory. This type of memory was dependent on an arrangement of magnetic rings. A change in magnetization of each ring made room for data storage.
Access to any memory location in any order was possible via a combination of address wires belonging to each of the rings.
Magnetic-core access remained the standard random-access memory until the development of semiconductor memory in the sixties.
Semiconductor memory used bipolar transistors. Bipolar transistors made data processing faster but were much more expensive than magnetic core memory.
To solve this problem, John Schmidt developed the metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) memory in 1964. The MOS was more powerful and more efficient than the magnetic and considerably less cheap.
Before the ’90s, RAM was known to be asynchronous. Computer processors and the RAM microchips had varying clock speeds. RAM could not supply data as fast as the processor required.
Then came the emergence of the Synchronous Dynamic RAM (SD-RAM). The SD-RAM could synchronize the clock speeds of the RAM and the processor.
Computer operations became faster as the RAM could now conveniently handle the fast data requests of the processor. Eventually, the original single data rate- SDR RAM reached its limit.
The double data rate synchronous Random-Access Memory (DDR SRAM) came in 2000. DDR SRAM helped data faster in one clock, both at the start and at the end.
Through the years, DDR SDRAM has evolved into DDR2, DDR3, DDR 4. Each upgrade made programming faster and saved more power.
DDR2 came in 2003, but its insufficiency led to the release of DDR3 in 2007. New technological innovations came with the need for extra speed. DDR4 release came in 2012.
Most modern desktop computers now use DDR4.
Deficiencies Of The RAM
RAM is a volatile memory because every time you restart your computer, it loses all previous memory. When the computer reboots, it reloads data from the HDD to the RAM for easy access.
Consequently, the RAM can only store data temporarily, not permanently.
RAM stores data in microchips which are physically small. There is, therefore, a limit to the amount of data a RAM can hold.
How Much RAM Does Your Computer Need?
Your computer’s speed and performance depend on the RAM. Your computer is as efficient as the size of RAM installed.
If you use a lot of programs you would, your RAM space can get used up quickly. Consequently, your computer will be sluggish.
If your computer is becoming slow, you will need to either purchase a new computer with a larger RAM or install the RAM itself on your current computer.
Before your install a new RAM, however, checks for compatibility with your computer system.
What To Watch Out For When Purchasing RAM
When purchasing a RAM, consider its memory capacity, expressed in the number of transfers per second. These days, a standard unit of memories is one million transfers per second, or mega transfers per second (MT/s).
The RAM module indicates the RAM speed. Some of the modules available include DDR4 -2,400, DDR4- 1,600, DDR4- 3,200 MT/s.
A computer cannot run without RAM. Without RAM, the computer cannot boot beyond the Power-On-Self-Test (POST) screen.
Random-access memory (RAM) is a computer component that stores were working data for the CPU and other applications to function.
The CPU and computer programs need the RAM to run. There are two kinds of RAM, static and dynamic RAM.
Static RAM stored data using latching circuitry. It is small and holds fewer data. It has lower access time and so is faster and consumes more power than dynamic RAM.
Dynamic RAM stores each data in a separate capacitor in an integrated circuit. It, therefore, has more storage capacity than static RAM. It consumes less power, but it is slower in operation than static RAM.
Your computer system is as efficient as the size of the RAM installed on it. If your computer is running slow, you should consider upgrading the RAM.