Processors, motherboards, hard drives, fans, sound cards … Enclosures can be integral from the outside, but inside there are a number of components.Some of these may not even be required for operating an operating system (such as CD or DVD drives, for example), but there are others without which the machine will not even power on!
One of them is the RAM, essential in the processing and storage of your programs, working together mainly with your processor.Today, we show you a little more about them, from the composition, types, sizes, speeds to how they work in conjunction with the other components.
You are curious?So check it out!
What does ram mean
The term is an acronym for Random Access Memory, that is, random access memory.This implies that this memory can access the data in a non sequential way (unlike a cassette, for example), greatly accelerating the processes of reading and writing.Any free or completed sector is immediately found and processed.
However, unlike a hard drive, the RAM is totally volatile, meaning that all the stored data can be lost when the device is not properly powered.But if there is this setback, know that it is thousands of times faster than scanning the physical disk.
RAM memory in two “flavors”
First of all, you need to know that there are two basic types of RAM, which are static memory and dynamic memory.The first one may be less recognizable by the general public, but it is present in many components of our computers, especially in processors, where they form the cache memory (we will explain the concept below, during the illustration of the RAM operating path).
Static memory consists of flip-flops (mounted with four to six transistors) and does not need to be constantly updated, which makes it much faster and more efficient for jobs requiring low latency.The output states can be 0 or 1, being lost only when the power supply is cut off.
In contrast, it occupies a much larger physical space, and it is impractical to build memory combs for traditional use.Another problem is the much higher cost.
Already the dynamic RAM, or DRAM, is the one we see to buy in the stores and that equip our motherboards.Its cells are composed of a capacitor and a transistor, the transistor being a kind of gate (which bar or gives passage to the electric pulse) and the capacitor responsible for storing the information (again, states of 0 or 1).
Once the capacitor is discharged over time, it is necessary to keep it powered at all times.These integrated circuits are arranged in the form of rows and columns in such a way that the data can be accessed, read or written by means of intersections (imagine a position A3, activated by an electric pulse on line A and on the other side in column 3).
This format may be cheaper and compact compared to static memory (housing much more storage capacity per square centimeter), but – on the other hand – due to the need of location of positions, constant feeding and the change of state itself lead to a latency Higher for reading.
If you want to know more about these two different types of memory, be sure to check out the article “What is the difference between static and dynamic RAM”, in which the subject is covered more extensively.
The order of factors
Now that you know a little bit more about the operation of these components, let’s go through the information of the components and the crucial role of memories.It all starts with CPU calculations (central processing unit, or processor), which are really bulky.
All of these processed data may be required for a future operation, and the need for a component that temporarily stores the information comes into play.We then have the cache, RAM, and the hard disk itself acting as a single system.
As the volume of data is huge (going on the order of billions of bytes per second), it is necessary, in the first place, an extremely fast memory, able to accompany this frenetic pace.The solution to this is cache memory (a type of static memory, as we have seen), which is coupled directly into the processor, providing a workspace with the least possible latency.
This cache memory is also divided into several levels (such as L1, L2, L3 and so on), with L1 being the closest to the processor and the remaining ones being the farthest, with higher capacities and higher latencies, but still with one channel Direct access to the data.
Recourse to Plan B
But with such a small space, what happens when the data is not behaved?Then enter the next level in the memory and access hierarchy (using the memory controller), which is the use of DRAM (dynamic memory, found on the combs that are on your motherboard).
In it reside all the data opened by the system (as well as the processes that are in activity), such as programs and files.To better see how they work, try opening Windows Task Manager.On the screen are all program memory usage rates, followed by the system total available.
Again, depending on how you use your system, the DRAM memory available on the combs may not be enough to supply all of your system’s needs.And in such cases, how do you prevent the computer from jamming?
Plan time … C?
The answer is on the hard drive, which is now used by most of today’s operating systems as an extension of RAM, in the form of a virtual memory.Thus, the system begins to read and write data to disk, avoiding locks and continuing the management of the processes.
There is only one big problem with this: the speed of reading and writing is much lower than that found for other types of memories on the market.As a result, your PC will continue to run, but performance … It will be down there!
The system will try to change the data at the highest speed possible, storing in RAM everything that is more important, leaving the items of minor importance to the HD.Even so, windows will crash and the mouse will be heavy!
More knowledgeable users can configure how much of their hard drives can work on this virtualization, in order to get the most performance under such circumstances.To learn more about virtual memory and the application of hard drives, be sure to read the article “What is virtual memory”.
Types of memories
We have already covered some of the data path through the computer, so let’s go to the types of combs that we find on the market or that have already existed and are no longer sold.It is worth remembering that the latest equipment and processors work with DDR2 or DDR memories (for some of the previous years).And to find out what type of memory your computer uses, go directly to the instruction manual.
The term SIMM comes from Single In-Line Memory Module, and was designated the type of memory module used in computers until the mid-nineties.The first models were able to load instructions with only 8 bits at each pass, having a total of 30 pin connectors.After some time, new modules appeared, which contained 72 connection pins and supported up to 32 bits of information per access.
These modules came on the market to replace the above mentioned combs, mainly with the rise of the Pentium architecture in the world market of computers.The big differences consist in the fact that both sides of connectors are independent, unlike the previous generation, providing a 64-bit bandwidth.
RIMM is the patented name for Direct Rambus memory module, being very similar to the DIMM memories, described above.The main differences are in the number of connectors and data transfer, which occurs at 16 bits.However, because of its higher speed, an aluminum blade was required to cool the equipment.
Memory DDR SDRAM
Dual-rate synchronous dynamic random-access memory is one of the most successful memory specifications in the industry, having been developed with the goal of achieving double the performance of its predecessor.Considering that the data is transferred to 64 bits at a time, the transfer rate (when multiplied the bus rate and the number of bits) reaches 1600 MB/s (take into account that the normal value would be 800 MB/s, If there was no dual-transmission technology).
The main current standard is an evolution of conventional DDR-type memory, with a series of transformations in specifications aimed at increasing speed (including clock), minimizing power consumption, heating and noise interference, and Increase in density (more total memory per comb or chip).
As with the previous review, DDR3 aims to further enhance memory performance by reducing consumption and speeding up data access and storage capabilities.The bandwidth of data transfer is twice that found in DDR2, however, the latency remained almost identical.It is worth mentioning that this memory pattern is already coming into use, with processors such as Intel i7 and specific motherboards.
How much do I need?
Contrary to what many users believe, adding RAM does not always increase computer performance.To better understand this idea, imagine that your computer already has 1 GB of memory.Based on this value, think that the operating system consumes about 300 MB to run, that the open browser takes up over 120 MB and that your Excel worksheet adds another 100 MB to the account.
Theoretically you would have plenty of memory to run a few more applications (480 MB), and if it were not to open too many things, an additional comb would not impact because there is more than enough free amount.
In another situation, keep the computer with 1 GB of RAM, but imagine that the operating system, browser, spreadsheet and a few more open programs consume about 900 MB of RAM.With one more little game or an extra flap with Flash in the browser you would jump up to 1 GB of memory occupied (having to resort to virtual memory, performing the exchange between applications allocated in RAM and losing much performance midway).
It is for this second case that the addition of more memory causes impact, giving more room for the programs and the system to “breathe.”
For a computer for web surfing and for routine work (using software packages like Office), it is clear that such a large amount of memory is not required in the system, but even then the requirements must be taken into account For the operating system.
If you choose Windows XP, for example, 1 GB can handle the message.On systems like Windows Vista you will really need 2GB to work without bottlenecks and no small locks.
Computer for games and heavy tasks
If 2GB of RAM is already required with typical tasks in Windows Vista, those who seek maximum performance should have at least 4GB of RAM, especially if it is “gaming” (like Crysis, which even today does Many computers suffer) or editing images or videos, through programs like Photoshop and Premiere.
Taking into consideration that the resolution of the images is increasing and that the era of HD videos is beginning, you certainly will not want to be unable to enjoy everything with good performance.
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