Hardware for beginners (IV): what RAM is and how it works?

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The memory used by the system to perform real-time tasks is known as RAM, or random access memory for its acronym in English.


The random access memory, or RAM for short in English, is one of the most important components of the computer, although often not given the attention it deserves, being put in the background of relevance when compared with the CPU or the GPU .

To be much more volatile than traditional storage media, this is where the data reside when they need to be used by an application fresh and last a relatively short time there.

What is random access memory

Also called RAM, or memory directly, is where the information needs to be processed by the stored core processor (or in some cases by the GPU). So when you need to process or data set, such as those involving display an image on screen, these data are loaded from a storage medium such as a hard disk, are written in RAM where they spend the processor, where once processed are passed back to the RAM.


It is called random access memory that can be written and read from the different sectors that make up without following a specific pattern . Thus, if multiple processor cores are performing independent tasks, they can use different memory sectors independently without waiting for the information to be read from the first sector to the last.

A little history

The earliest attempts RAM took place in the late forties and early fifties. This type of RAM is based on a system known as magnetic cores , the main limitation is that the basic data storage units were too large, each bit being occupied place in an area of a few millimeters, which did not allow too many bits for each unit of memory.


As you would expect, with the discovery of the integrated circuit substantially changed things. However it was not until the late sixties when it began to be replaced by magnetic drives those based on silicon.

Intel would once again a pioneer in the field with its 3101 integrated 64-bit memory, and allowed the will pave way for the Intel 1103 , the first RAM module based on silicon achieved commercial success, hitting the market only in 1970 .

Many things have happened since that time. In principle the RAM modules were integrated directly into the motherboard , but over time, and to realize that too much space is occupied by integrating the memory directly on the plate, they decided to try some modules that were integrated independently to the motherboard, and that is how we got to the format that can be found in most modern computers, where the RAM modules fit in a similar way expansion cards.

How RAM Works

As I described earlier, the RAM works as a broker of information between storage media and those processing. Thus, when the CPU or GPU need to access data that is stored on the hard drive to perform a given task, not extracted directly from there, since to do so to perform each task would take too long.


Instead, the data is sent to the RAM, which is substantially more features to be fast to be read and modified, plus it can access the data with a larger bandwidth . Thus, the information is loaded from disk storage to RAM, where the processors can access data much more easily.

A major characteristic of the RAM is that the times at which the information remains within the modules are relatively short. So, as soon as the power is cut, or even spend too much time without being used, the information tends to disappear. In the event that such information remains required by the system, it becomes charged back to RAM.


And this was the latest installment of Hardware rookie of the year, but next not take too long to arrive. If you’ve been wanting to learn a little more about the random access memory, Felipe told us a couple of months ago why need to add more to your computer, and Renata told us what they meant the colors in the bays of expansion RAM.

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