Computer Memory: Its Importance & Types
Physical devices used for the purpose of data management, instruction execution, or information storage are known as computer memory components. Memory is a basic requirement for the normal functioning of any computer or system. Based on different uses and purposes, computer memory storage can be temporary or permanent. In this blog, we will discuss what computer memory is, its importance, and commonly available types.
Computer memory stores data and information in the form of bits. Memory is crucial because a computer is not capable of performing any task without the presence of memory. It is used for storing program instructions for executing certain tasks on the computer and to store data for later use. As various forms of data are stored on memory devices, such information can be secured and fetched as needed. Cells are the building blocks of memory, and every memory cell has a distinctive identification number which can be referred to as the address of that memory cell.
In computers, computer memory is required for the storage of multiple types of data, like images, text, audio, documents, and videos. With the help of memory, data can be retrieved whenever needed. When a program is written and executed, it is initially stored in the primary memory. However, if a file, program, or other form of data is not needed for a long time, it is automatically saved in the secondary memory. Stored data is then retrieved from the secondary memory, also known as permanent memory, when needed and is sent to the main memory for the execution of the code.
The main memory, also known as primary memory, directly communicates with auxiliary memory, cache memory, and the Control Processing Unit (CPU). This memory is responsible for holding data, instructions, and programs that are currently in use. This type of storage device can be found on the motherboard of the computer. When a program is started, the processor loads its set of instructions from the secondary memory and directs it into the main memory for execution. Executing programs and data from primary memory is much faster, as it has register memory or cache memory, and it is situated much closer to the CPU of the computer. The drawback of primary memory is that it is a type of volatile memory, meaning if data is not saved and a power failure occurs, the data will be lost. The most common types of primary memory are RAM (Random Access Memory) and ROM (Read-Only Memory).
Random Access Memory (RAM)
RAM falls under the faster category of main memory and can be accessed directly by the CPU. RAM is the hardware present in a computer system used for the purpose of storing data temporarily. It is also used for reading/writing data in memory while the computer is working, and it is also considered a volatile type of primary memory, meaning it cannot hold data without power.
Read-Only Memory (ROM)
ROM is another type of primary memory used for the permanent storage of information inside a chip. As the name suggests, read-only memory can only read information stored on it. Any kind of modification or re-writing on ROM is not possible. This memory contains all the crucial programs and instructions needed to boot a computer. ROM is a non-volatile memory device, meaning stored information will not be lost due to a power cut or shutting down of the system.
Secondary memory in a computer system is used for holding large amounts of data. It is a form of external memory and includes devices like USBs, hard disks, CDs, DVDs, and other drives. Data and programs on these devices can be saved for the long term. As compared to primary memory, secondary memory is cheaper, but slower. Additionally, it is more capable of storing large data sets like videos, audio, pictures, software, and text. Depending on the type of device, secondary memory can also implement magnetic or optical technology for storing data.
Secondary memory is also a non-volatile type of memory, and accessing secondary memory directly from the CPU is not possible. Instead, data from secondary memory data has to first be loaded into the RAM and then has to be sent to the processor for reading and updating the data.
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