RAM Memory (Random Access Memory or RAM) is one of the most important elements of your PC. It is hard to imagine a modern PC without RAM Memory. It is the main memory of your PC. The processor of your PC is almost totally dependent on the RAM Memory.
What is RAM?
If you have a look on your motherboard, you will find a green or blue horizontal tall hard integrated circuit which is set in a slot. It is the Random access memory of your PC. It is one kind of computer memory which is faster but less in size than other data storages. It is called Random access memory because it can access data in random order.
It is a fast but a temporary storage. It provides data and information to the processor or Cache Memory if they required. It also stored data temporarily for further uses by the processor if they need again. Though this semiconductor memory is more expensive than other computer memories, it is used as the primary memory so that it is a must needed element of your PC.
RAM is considered as a Volatile Memory that means if you switched off your PC, every data stored in the RAM will be deleted. RAM is used by the CPU from the moment you open your OS. CPU stored information temporarily so that it can access these data again very quickly when they need. It is important because if CPU collects its needed information from the secondary data storage i.e. hard drive or CD drive, then the performance of the CPU will be very low!
Types of RAM
There are mainly two types of RAM available now. They are Static RAM (SRAM) and Dynamic RAM (DRAM). There is some more kind of RAMs available that are used as a special type of RAM. They are EDO RAM, SDRAM etc. Their structure and working process are different from each other. SRAM uses six transistors memory cell to store a bit of data that is called a flip-flop. It is expensive but comparatively faster and requires less dynamic power. SRAM is mainly used as the Cache Memory of your PC.
In general, DRAM is mainly used as your main memory. DRAM uses a transistor and a capacitor to store a bit of data. They together form the DRAM memory cell. In DRAM memory cell, capacitor clutches high and low voltage or charge and transistor works like an electronic switch which can feel the change or presence of charges on the capacitor. You mainly use DRAM as your RAM on the PC. It is less expensive, cost-effective but slow in speed rather than SRAM.
The main difference between DRAM and SRAM is DRAM is dynamic which needs to be refreshed but SRAM is static that doesn’t need refreshing. DRAM uses only one transistor and capacitor to store a bit of data but SRAM requires six transistors for their memory cell. For this SRAM is faster than DRAM but at the same time, it is more expensive too.
DDR SDRAM is a popular developed type of RAM which is widely used in modern PCs. It is more fast and efficient than other types of RAM. There are different categories like DDR, DDR2, DDR 3 and DDR 4 etc. which will be described later in the article.
What is mean by DDR?
When buying a RAM, you will find there are different categories RAM like DDR, DDR 2, DDR3 or DDR4 etc. DDR means Double Data Rate. It is a high-performance RAM type and called SDRAM or DDR RAM. They are more efficient and produced less heat than normal SDRAM. There are different categories of DDR RAMs. They are:
- DDR: it is the first category of RAM of DDR technology. It has a maximum clock speed of 400 MHz and uses 8 bytes data bus system. It requires 2.5V power. Their maximum transfer rate is 3,200 MB/s.
- DDR 2: it has a maximum clock speed of 800 MHz and also has 8 bytes of data bus system. It is the most used DDR RAM by the users and widely produced by the manufacturers. DDR 2 RAM requires an 8V power supply and its maximum transfer rate is 6,400 MB/s.
- DDR 3: DDR 3 technology is more powerful having a maximum clock speed of 1600 MHz and data transfer rate is 14,900 MB/s. It requires less power than DDR or DDR2 and even can run at 1.36V.
- DDR 4: it is the fourth generation and latest DDR RAM technology. It is faster and less power consuming. It requires an only 2V power supply to run it smoothly. Its maximum clock speed is 3200 MHz and has a speed up to 21,300 MB/s.
How to check RAM Memory
You can check your PC’s RAM Memory by following some easy steps.
- First, open the Start Menu and open “My Computer” or “This PC” (Windows 10). Click right button of your mouse then select “Properties”. A new window will open and there you will find “Installed Memory (RAM)”.
- You can use Command Prompt for details. First open Command Prompt from Start Menu and then type it “wmic MEMORYCHIP get BankLabel ,DeviceLocator ,Capacity ,Speed” and then press ENTER.
- You can check current RAM usage by Task Manager. Open Task Manager from Toolbar and click “Performance” tab. Then select the “Memory” option (Windows 8 or upgraded version).
Note: these steps are only for Windows Operating system.
RAMs working principle is totally different from other data storage like a Hard disk or a CD-RW. RAM is a Volatile type memory that means it cannot keep stored data if the PC is switched off. When the processor needs any data or instruction, RAM collects that data from the secondary data storage and keep them temporarily.
Then it provides them to the processor or faster Cache Memory. It can transfer these data again if the processor requires because these data were stored in the RAM that is called ‘Cached Data’. When you run an application, RAM collects all the Data and Instruction about that application from the secondary data storage.
So it can be said that an application is run on RAM and controlled and processed by the processor. When your RAM Memory is full for running multiple application, you can’t open any more application because there is no space to store the required data for the new application.
How RAM Works on Device
RAM’s working process is based on Binary System. It is an integrated circuit (IC) which is consists of millions of transistors and capacitors. RAM stored and retrieved data randomly that makes the process faster. Actually, RAM Memory provides your computer a temporary space to process data. RAM supports the processor and control how information will transmit between the CPU and Secondary Memory.
A bus is a data path that is made of parallel wires and connects the processor, RAM, and other elements. The bus structure determines how much and how fast data and information can transfer to the motherboard from Memory to CPU. Modern PC’s have a front side bus that is called FSB from the processor to RAM and a backside bus or BSB from the RAM’s controller to L2 cache.
RAM in PC
In PC, RAM is situated on a permanent slot on the motherboard. It is a part of the memory hierarchy of your PC. It’s hard to imagine a running PC without RAM. Everything is loaded at first in the RAM before reaching processor. RAM in PC is not fixed. You can add or upgrade your RAM. RAM size should be selected based on OS, hardware and working purposes.
RAM of Smart Phones
Smartphones also need RAM to perform. They also have OS, and to run their OS or any application RAM is required. The function of RAM in Smartphones and mobile devices is same. But the difference is it is fixed in smartphones. You cannot manually upgrade or add more RAM. The importance of RAM in PC and smartphones are same. Smartphones usually use 2-6 GB of RAM Memory.
RAM vs ROM
There is a huge difference between RAM (Random Access Memory) and ROM (Read-only Memory). ROM is a permanent memory. Manufacturers write the required information to turn on your PC that is called BOOT. When you switched on your PC, you will see boot menu before starting OS. Information written in ROM can’t be added, deleted or changed. The size of ROM is not big but it is the first required hardware to open your PC.
RAM is not a permanent memory. When you switched off your PC, every data stored in the RAM will be deleted. Even you can delete RAM data manually by deleting Cached Data. RAM is required to run any application including OS. If you have ROM but no RAM, you will be able to open your PC but you can’t be able to run OS or cannot able to use any application.
Why RAM is a must
Basically, it is impossible to open any application or even your OS if you have no RAM on your PC. When you switched on your PC, required data and information for the OS are stored on your RAM. If you have no RAM, then OS can’t be open because your processor can’t process anything directly from the secondary storage.
On the other hand, to open any application required data by the processor must be stored temporarily in the RAM Memory. So it can be said that RAM is one of the most important and must needed hardware for your PC.
More RAM- More Task
RAM is required to run an application. So that if you have more RAM, you will be able to run more application at a time. It is called ‘Multitasking’. When you open an application, required data and information by that application will be stored on your RAM. So available space of your RAM will decrease. If you open another application, available space of your RAM will decrease more.
At one time, there will be no available space for your RAM if you run multiple applications. But if you have more RAM, you can run more application because there will be some more available space to store the required data and instructions for the new application. So it means if you have more RAM, you can run more task at the same time on your device.
More RAM will not make your device faster!
There will arrive a question if you have more RAM will this make your application’s speed faster? The answer is no. When you open an application it stores data temporarily on the RAM. Suppose, you open an application which requires 100 MB available RAM space. If you have 100 MB free RAM space, then you can easily run that application at its full speed.
But if you have more than 100 MB available space, it will not affect the speed of that application. Because that application needs 100 MB free space, it will not use that extra free RAM space. That extra free space will be used by another new application if you open any. So more RAM will help you to run multiple application at a time, but it will not make any individual application faster.
Less RAM = Slow PC !
Though more RAM doesn’t make your application speed faster but less RAM can affect your PC’s performance. PC’s OS requires a major portion of your RAM space. So if you open a big application, there will not enough available free space to run that application. If you try to open another new application, there will be no available RAM space.That’s why your PC will be slower. So if you have less RAM, you will find trouble to run the application and your PC’s speed will decrease. It is suggested that you should have at least 30- 35% free RAM space after running PC’s OS. Otherwise, it will be tough to run your PC smoothly. Then you should upgrade or increase your RAM.
That’s why your PC will be slower. So if you have less RAM, you will find trouble to run the application and your PC’s speed will decrease. It is suggested that you should have at least 30- 35% free RAM space after running PC’s OS. Otherwise, it will be tough to run your PC smoothly. Then you should upgrade or increase your RAM.
How much RAM is needed for your device?
The size of RAM memory muchly depends on your processor, OS and working purposes. If you use Windows 10 and a normal user, 4GB RAM will be perfect for you. Types of RAM will depend on your motherboard. Maximum manufacturer prefers DDR 3.
But if you are a gamer and used to play many high-end games then you may need 8 GB or more RAM memory to run Games and application smoothly. Again if you use your PC for online gaming then you may need up to 16 GB of RAM because at the same time you have to play a game and stream it online.
4 GB RAM is enough for low budget Windows or MacOS system. But for 8 GB will be the best for Windows and MacOS system. But if your PC is used in a workstation for different applications you should have at least 16 GB or even up to 32 GB RAM memory.
Before buying a RAM for your PC, you have to consider some factors. But you should check 3 points before buying RAM. They are RAM type, RAM capacity, and RAM frequency. But you should also consider RAM voltage, timing, architecture warranty etc.
Your motherboard will not support every type of RAMs. So at first, you should know which types of RAMs are supported by your PC. Like DDR2 or DDR 3 which types of RAM is supported by your motherboard. If your PC supports DDR 2, you cannot use DDR 3 RAM on your PC.
You should also check your RAM capacity. In general, there are 2 slots for RAM on your motherboard. That means if you have 1 RAM, you can add 1 more RAM. But you have already 2 RAM in both slots, it’s hard to add another RAM to your PC.
Another main factor is your PC’s RAM frequency. RAM’s frequency is measured in MHz, your new RAM’s frequency should match the frequency of your old one. Your motherboard only accepts certain frequency of RAM. If you use same frequency RAM, you will get the best benefit from your RAMs. Though modern RAM like DDR 3 or DDR 4 can run at different frequencies.
Drawbacks of RAM
Though RAM is one of the most important hardware of your PC, there are some disadvantages of it. First of all, it is a volatile memory.so if you switched off your PC or accidentally your PC is switched off, it will lose every data which was stored. That means there is always a concern about losing data. As it is a volatile memory, it needs to load OS every time you switched on your PC. It takes away a huge time.
Again RAM memory is not cost effective. RAM is less in size than Hard disk but it is more expensive compared to the hard disk. It requires a big amount of power than other elements. Though new developed RAMs are almost free from these problems, still there is a huge field for improvement in RAM technology.
Research on RAM technology is a continuous process. Engineers and researchers are trying hard to reduce the problems of RAM and to find a solution. Their main concern is about the negative impact of refresh on energy. They also trying to increase the reliability and decreasing bandwidth waste of DRAM at the same time to make it cost effective.
Energy consumed by the RAM is also a problem. You will find that latest DDR 4 RAM requires less power than old DDR RAM. Researchers are still working how to make RAM more energy efficient. Hopefully, the performance of these RAM will be more improved.
There are many companies who make PC’s RAM. But some of them produced one of the best RAMs which performances are up to the mark. Though all of them are not economical. Best brands for making RAMs are Corsair, G.Skill, Crucial, OCZ, Mushkin, Kingston etc. If you want the best RAM at a reasonable price you can prefer Hynix, Transcend and Samsung etc.
Since it is a must needed element for the PC, the importance of RAM Memory has no bound. But still, there are many bugs in today’s RAM. Improvement of RAM Memory is a continuous process. Hopefully, you will get more efficient RAM in the near future which will be faster and less expensive or a new technology that will increase the performance of your PC and Laptop.