Lets start off this article with a cartoon.

by Analisa Hakes

The Random Access Memory, more commonly known as RAM, is the primary storage in computers. These long thin metal rectangles fit into the Motherboard, adjacent to the CPU. RAM is volatile meaning it stores data while the computer is running, but once it loses its power source, it is wiped clean. There are secondary storage devices like hard-drives, disc-drives, and such that store data without being dependent on a power source, but they are much slower than RAM ("Random Access Memory." World of...).

There are different types of RAM. For example, SAM, Sequential Access Memory, is the counterpart to RAM. The data stored on SAM can only be accessed in the order in which it was put on. Imagine stacking bricks and taking them one down at a time, or a more modern example, vinyl ("Random Access Memory." World of...). Because RAM is random access and not sequential, it is faster and preferred by many. However, SAM works well for memory buffers. For example, SAM is used in the texture buffer memory in the video card. There is also chip-based RAM which is used in flash memory cards, however, the access time is far slower than our patience so it isn't as commonly used. There is also DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) and SRAM (Static Random Access Memory) ("Random Access Memory." World of...).

An image of RAM in its slot on the Motherboard.

RAM is made up in majority of transistors, capacitors, and microscopic wiring pathways. Inside RAM, specifically DRAM, a transistor and capacitor make a cell that holds a bit. In order for DRAM to function, the capacitor need to maintain some sort of electric potential difference to store a 0 or 1. This state however, cannot be held for long. It goes through a series of processes to maintain a functional ability ("Random Access Memory." World of...). DRAM is the most commonly used form of RAM. SRAM on the other hand, is faster, uses less power, but is much more expensive. This version of RAM doesn't need refreshing and this is why it is so much faster. The CPU needs RAM that is incredibly fast. Generally, DRAM is used as primary storage in the computer because it is not fast enough to keep up ("Random Access Memory." World of...).
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Up close visual of RAM.

The history of RAM began in the 1940's with some of the earliest computers. Instead of using capacitors and transistors, it had a magnetic-core and magnetized rings to store data. The amount of data it could hold was minimal compared to what we are accustomed to today. Gradually, this technology began to be used in smaller devices, but the primary principle of its inner workings was the same. The invention of solid state memory inside integrated circuits was a major breakthrough during the 1970's. However, because of its use of transistors, a power source was relied upon heavily and its new power came at the cost of its volatility. The RAM we use today is still reliant on this technology, even after almost fifty years ("What Is Random Access Memory (RAM)?" Study...).

Works Cited

"Random Access Memory." World of Computer Science, Gale, 2007. Science in Context Accessed 1 Feb. 2018.

A Bit of History

SAM Diagram