What Is RAM | RAM Made Easy

Random Access Memory or RAM is used to run computer applications and to perform tasks. RAM plays a crucial role in your computer’s performance. RAM is an important component of desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. RAM allows these devices to operate at much faster speeds than otherwise possible. Not enough RAM causes computers to slow down to a crawl or, sometimes, make it so they cannot run at all.

RAM is fast computer memory that stores all the information your PC needs now. RAM is readable and changeable in any order. It’s where the computer loads all the things it thinks it needs to find soon, so it can read it super fast when needed. It differs from the long-term storage of your system, like your hard drive, where information access is much slower. Random access memory is data storage that stores data and machine code. A random access memory device can read or write data items at almost the same time, regardless of the physical location of the data in the memory.

In contrast, the time required to read and write data items varies significantly with other direct-access data storage media such as hard disks, CD-RWs, DVD-RWs and older magnetic tapes and drum memory, depending on their physical location on the recording medium, due to mechanical limitations such as media rotation speeds and arm movement. 

 What is Random Access Memory or RAM


What is RAM in a computer?


Perhaps the best analogy for what RAM is in a computer is to think of it as a short-term memory of your system. It's fast to learn new things and can load all the information about your web browser, the image editing tool you use or the game you play so that you can quickly access it. You don't want to dig your slower storage like a hard drive or a solid state drive (SSD) every time you open a new tab or load a new enemy to shoot. As quickly as they are compared to years of storage, they are still much slower than RAM.

Data in the short-term memory, or RAM, can be read almost at the same speed from anywhere and because it has a hard-wired connection to your system, there is no real latency in the cable or connection. Like short-term memory, however, RAM is not designed to remain forever focused and is ready to move to the next task at once. It is what is called "volatile" in computing, that is, once it loses power, it forgets all it has learned.

This makes it perfect for handling the many high-speed tasks your system performs every day, but it is also why we need storage systems such as hard drives and SSDs to keep our information when you turn off your system.

What is the purpose of RAM?

The purpose of RAM in devices is mainly to be used as the main memory in computer systems. RAM is considered volatile central processing unit (CPU) when a computer runs to store information that needs to be used very quickly, but does not permanently store any information.
memory, which means that when there is no power the stored information is lost. RAM is therefore used by the

Current RAM devices use integrated data storage circuits. This is a relatively costly form of storage, and the cost per storage unit is much higher than for hard drive devices. The time to access data, however, is so much faster for RAM that speed is more expensive.

Therefore, a computer uses a certain amount of RAM for quick access, temporary information storage and a much greater amount of non-random, permanent mass storage, such as a hard drive. For example, a typical computer system may have two to eight GB (gigabytes) of RAM, while the hard disk drive's storage capacity may be several hundred GB or one TB (terabyte).

The earliest form of RAM dates back to the very early 1940s computers. Magnetic nucleus memory was based on a range of magnetized rings. Data can be saved by individually magnetizing each ring. Each ring was cabled separately, leading to relatively large installations. A single ring could store one piece of data and zero or one direction of magnetization.

Technological advances led to smaller devices capable of storing more information but using the same principle. The memory unit in the photo below is approximately 10 x 10 cm and can hold 1024 bits. This is very small by the standards of today, but in the 1960s it was state of the art.

The real breakthrough for computer memory occurred in the 1970s when solid state memory was invented in integrated circuits. This uses very small transistors, enabling a lot more information to be stored in a very small area. However, this increase in memory density was at the cost of volatility: a constant power supply is required to maintain the transistor status. Today's RAM remains based on the same principle.

What is RAM and why is it important?

In the 1970s, solid state memory (RAM) was invented in integrated circuits, the real breakthrough for computer memory took place. This uses very small transistors that make it possible to store much more information in a very small area. However, this increase in memory density was at the cost of volatility: the transistor status needs a constant power supply. RAM is still based today on the same principle.

In other words, forgetting is probably clever tactics created by humans to help us concentrate on things that are immediately relevant and important in the endless clutter of our daily lives in order to concentrate on what matters. Forgetting is like making your closet an old junk to make room for new things.

Computers don't remember or forget things like the brains of people. Computers work in binary, they either knows something or they don't, and once they've learned, they usually don't forget to avoid some sort of catastrophic failure.

People are different. We can see things. I saw that face somewhere before. Or I feel sure we know something without being able to recall it . In contrast to computers, people may forget, remember, or even forget to remember.

Memory seems like art or magic rather than science or technology. When clever people master tricks that memorize thousands of pieces of information, they are celebrated as great magicians, although what they have achieved is far less impressive than anything that a simple USB flash memory stick can do.

The chips that make up a computer's internal memory come in two broad types known as RAM (random access memory) and ROM (read-only memory). RAM chips remember things only while a computer is powered on, so they're used for storing whatever a computer is working on in the very short term.

On the other hand, ROM chips remember stuff whether the power is on or not. They are preprogrammed with information in the factory and used to store things such as the BIOS (the basic input / output system that operate basic things such as the screen and keyboard of the computer).

RAM and ROM aren't the world's most helpful names, as we'll soon find out, so don't worry if they sound disconcerting. Just remember this important point. The main memory in the computer consists of two types of chips. A temporary and volatile type of memory that only recalls when the power is on is RAM. And the other type of memory is a permanent non-volatile type of memory that recalls whether power is ROM or not.

What is RAM memory in a computer used for?

The RAM memory capacity of a solid state or mechanical hard drive is often confused with the long-term storage provided. Even manufacturers or retailers sometimes mix the terms together. A desk is a useful analogy to take into account the difference between storage and memory. Consider RAM as the top of the desk. The larger the papers, the more you can spread and read at once. Hard drives are more like drawers below the desk, which can store papers that you don't use.

The more RAM you have, the more programs you can handle at the same time. After all, RAM is not the only determining factor, even with very small amounts of RAM, you can technically open dozens of programs at once. The problem is that it slows your system severely.

Think again of the desk. If your desk is too small, it gets cluttered and your work slows down when you try to find any paper you need at any given time. You will often have to dig in the drawers to store what does not fit on the desk and get the papers you need.

While it is true that a computer with more RAM feels much faster, it is only to a certain extent. If you only work with a few pieces of paper, having a large desk will not help you. The aim is to have sufficient RAM or desk space for all applications you use on this particular device in your life.

Nor should standard RAM be confused with graphics memory, nor should a computer graphics card statistics (these are our favorites). High-end 3D games are based on video RAM (VRAM), often referred to as "GDDR5" or similar, while standard memory is simply referred to as memory, RAM or DDR3/DDR4 in some cases.

This may sound confusing, but fortunately most manufacturers clearly identify VRAM so that consumers know what it is. The operating system itself and the web browser are the biggest RAM-hogs on most home computers, although some applications and games can use more than anything else. You can't do much to make Windows or MacOS use less memory, but more RAM on your computer means more browser tabs can be opened in Chrome, Firefox, Edge, etc. Some websites also use more RAM than others. A simple story about text news is relatively light on memory, while something like Gmail or Netflix uses a lot.

Programs tend to use more RAM as complexity increases. A chat program or a game like Minesweeper uses almost no RAM, while a gigantic Excel spreadsheet, a huge Photoshop project or a graphical game can use gigabytes on its own. Professional programs and software for engineering are created to deal with very difficult projects and tend to consume the most RAM of all programmes.
How much RAM is enough?

The amount of memory you need depends on two factors: how much you want to spend and what you want to do. While memory is also important for smartphones, this guide focuses on more powerful systems running desktop operating systems such as Windows, MacOS or Chrome OS.

RAM guidelines that apply to most PC devices. 

  • 2GB: Found only in budget tablet designs. Okay, but you're going to want more on a laptop or desktop. 
  • 4GB: Entry level memory with budget notebooks included. Fine for basic usage of Windows and Chrome OS. 
  • 8GB: Great for MacOS and Windows systems and most games. For most people, we recommend this. 
  • 16GB: Ideal for work and more challenging games. 
  • 32GB and more: Enthusiasts and intended workstations alone.

Remember, buying more RAM than you need is not a net benefit to you. It is wasted money if not used. Buy what you need and spend more important components like the CPU or the graphics card on what is left of your budget. How much RAM you need in a system depends on what you intend to do, how long you intend to keep it and whether you can upgrade your post purchase memory or not. This last point is important because many high end laptops have eliminated user upgrade RAM to reduce system thickness by approximately six nanometers.

In general, adding additional RAM to a laptop increases the energy consumption by a measurable amount, but this should not be a problem for most users. It's also better to have a bit too much RAM than too little, as you will quickly lose anything you gain in power savings due to increased disk paging. Apple's MacBook Air offers 4 GB of RAM, but most Dell, HP, and other OEM systems start at 8 GB, and I think it's the sweetest place. That's not to say you ca n't get 4 GB at all, but 8 GB gives you a little more breathing space.

There is at least some evidence that the rate at which modern desktop applications require more RAM
has slowed. From 1990 to 2000, the minimum RAM requirement of Photoshop increased from 2 MB to 64 MB, a 32x increase in 10 years. It took another 16 years for this early rate to match between 64 MB in 2000 and 2 GB in 2016.

Today a lightweight system can get through with 4 GB of RAM. 8 GB should be abundant for current and short-term applications, 16 GB gives you comfortable space for the future, and anything over 16 GB is probably overkill if you don't know you need it specifically such as video editing or audio post production work. This applies to desktops and laptops.

We have touched on a lot of subjects in this story, so I will summarize the results here . If you plan to purchase a new laptop, check to see whether RAM upgrades are possible. It's not a given anymore. Mobile users can use 4 GB of RAM with light usage cases; 8 GB is a good target for most people. If you are a gamer, photo / video editor or plan to work with CAD / CAM, we recommend a minimum of 16 GB of memory. You already know if you need more than that.

If you are a desktop user with an older system, especially an older RAM device, adding faster RAM can help you get out of your hardware for a few more years, especially if you only have 6 GB RAM today. Gamers looking to build new desktops should aim at a 16 GB sweet spot and DDR4. Higher frequency DDR4 is better than lower, everything else is the same, but don't worry if you have to shave a few dollars off the cost of your rig.

For years to come DDR4 will be on the market. And prices will inevitably continue to fall. This is especially true when you build a midrange GPU; a GPU-limited game will not see an enormous performance shift from faster DDR4.

RAM conclusion

If you want to install massive amounts of memory now, there's nothing wrong with jumping for 32 GB of DDR4, but I'm not expecting the overwhelming majority of people to benefit from it. Most applications take their Microsoft memory consumption indices and Microsoft has been keeping the bar on Windows for a very long time. If you plan to edit 5 K videos or RAW 4 K camera footage, you obviously do not have as much RAM in your chassis as you like.

Random Access Memory
Image by skeeze from Pixabay
RAM Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary
Memory that never forgets: non-volatile DIMMs hit the market Ars Technica
1968: Silicon Gate Technology Developed for ICs Computer History Museum. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
DRAM IBM100 IBM. 9 August 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2019.