Written by Ella SavageThe name RAM is an acronym for Random Access Memory. Unlike other kinds of memory on computers, including the HDD and SDD, it's memory is volatile. This means that the memory can only be accessed when the computer is on and when it is turned off, the memory is lost. Similar to other types of memory, it is stored in binary.
The random access means that it will take the same time to read or write information fr
om/on any part of the memory. This is the opposite of sequential access, where the information can only be accessed in a certain order (like a cassette tape).
When the computer turns on, the operating system is loaded onto the RAM, so it can be accessed faster and the CPU can work faster as well. Then as programs are opened, their memory is added to the RAM. Since the RAM can only hold so much, when too many programs are open at once, the computer has to swap memory between the RAM and the hard disk drive. This slows down the computer and often results in the spinning beach ball of death.
DRAM, SRAM, and VRAM: Edit
Dynamic RAM or DRAM uses an integrated circuit to store memory. Transistors and capacitors are paired to create a memory cell, which stores only one bit of memory. If the cell is filled with electrons, the computer will read it as a one. If the cell is filled less than 50% with electrons, it will be read as a 0. Since the cell will leak out electrons the CPU or memory controller will go back and re the cells holding a one. It does this thousands of times per second.
Static RAM or SRAM is faster than DRAM, but also takes up more space and is more expensive. Therefore it is mostly used to save caches from the CPU. It uses several transistors and wires to store one bit of data. Instead of using a charge to refresh the electrons, the SRAM stores memory using flip-flop, which doesn't need to get renewed.
Video RAM or MPDRAM is a type of RAM that allows the CPU and graphics processor to access the RAM at the same time. It is often used in gaming and is usually found in graphics cards. Many people now use SGRAM instead, since it is cheaper and works just as well.
(For more information on the VRAM go to http://wwstechnology.wikia.com/wiki/Video_Card_2017-18_A)
History: EditOne of the first ways of storing memory was the Vacuum Tube, which was similar to CRT (cathode ray tube) televisions. Then in 1947, Frederick Viehe helped create a magnetic-core memory. It used magnetic rings that would indicate whether it was a 0 or a 1 based off its direction of magnetization. In 1968 solid state memory was invented. It uses integrated circuits to store memory.
When computers had less RAM that it could hold, the memory would be attached straight onto the motherboard. Eventually as the memory got bigger, the chips were placed onto a circuit board that would be plugged into the motherboard using a memory bank.