How much do you know about RAM?

From PCs to smartphones to game consoles, random access memory (RAM) is one of the most important components in all devices. Without RAM, performing almost all operations on any system would become much slower. For the application or game you want to run, if you don’t have enough resources, it may make things difficult or even impossible to run at all.

But what exactly is RAM? In short, it is a very fast component that can temporarily store all the information needed by the PC now and in the near future. Unlike slower hard drives that provide longer-term storage, access to information in RAM is very fast.

Short-term memory

RAM is essentially the short-term memory of the device. It temporarily stores (remembers) everything running on the PC, such as all services in Windows, web browsers, image editing tools, or the game you are playing. You don’t want the CPU to dig out slower storage devices such as hard drives or even solid state drives (SSDs) every time you request a new browser tab or load a new enemy to shoot. Although storage is faster than drives of the past few years, they are still much slower than RAM.

The data residing in short-term memory or RAM can be read from anywhere at almost the same speed, because it has a hard-wired connection to the system, so there is no real delay in wiring or connection. However, like short-term memory, RAM does not remember everything forever. This is a “volatile” technology, which means that once it loses power, it forgets everything.

This makes it very suitable for the many high-speed tasks that the system handles every day, but this is why we need storage systems such as hard drives and SSDs, which actually save our information when the system is shut down.

RAM-computer memory

Different types of RAM

RAM is a general term, such as “memory”, which actually covers several different types. When people talk about RAM or memory most of the time, technically they refer to DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory), or more accurately, for modern systems, they refer to SDRAM (Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory). ). Apart from technicality, terms are not actually important, but it is useful to understand that these terms are relatively interchangeable in spoken language.

Although older systems may use DDR3 or even DDR2, the most common type of RAM sold today is DDR4. These numbers only represent one generation of RAM, each generation offering higher speeds through greater bandwidth-higher megahertz (MHz) ratings. Each generation also has physical changes, so they are not interchangeable.

Another commonly used term, especially in the field of video games, is VRAM or video RAM. Although once an independent technology, VRAM is currently used to represent memory on graphics cards. In game consoles, it can also refer to system memory, but in either case, it is related to the memory reserved specifically for the GPU. It is most commonly called graphics DDR or GDDR, usually with a code name, such as GDDR6.

Most modern graphics cards use GDDR6, but some graphics cards may use another form of VRAM called high-bandwidth memory (HBM, HBM2, and HBM2e). It has unique performance advantages, although it is usually expensive and supply issues hinder its widespread adoption.

Size is not everything

The biggest consideration when buying RAM is how much you need, the least resources required to run the operating system, and many games and applications also have minimum requirements. These requirements are listed in GB, usually between 1GB and 8GB, depending on the hardware requirements of the application. It is important to have more than the minimum space, because the device will not only run the current application, but also run other services and tasks in the background. Of course, having a lot of system memory does not necessarily make the device faster.

Quantity is not the only important aspect of RAM. Although more gigabytes can help multitasking, with faster RAM, you can see the speed of the device, and the speed in some games and applications has been improved. Good improvement.

Like CPU, RAM has its own clock speed. When combined with some other factors, RAM can effectively control the amount of data that can be processed per second. The total speed of memory is discussed in terms of bandwidth (in megabytes/second), but traditionally you will see memory sold in MHz.

Typical DDR4 memory runs between 2,133MHz and 3,000MHz, but for some of the fastest kits, some can run above 4,866MHz. You will see these products sold as DDR4-2133 or similar products, sometimes with the confusing “PC” label. The number after “PC” is just the MHz speed multiplied by 8, and then rounded up. For example, you might see it listed as DDR4-2133 PC4-17000.

Timing is another aspect of memory, although it is no longer important, but it may affect RAM performance. It is actually the time between clock cycles, and as the memory speed increases, the timing increases, thereby reducing latency. Usually, the time is listed as several numbers separated by dashes, such as 15-15-15-35 or similar numbers.

When buying memory, time is really important only when you consider using high-performance memory for benchmarking or top-level games, and time is not a real issue for ordinary consumers. Finally, you should understand the channel. Most memory sold today supports at least dual channels, which means there are two channels (buses) between a memory slot and the memory controller of the CPU on the motherboard.

However, this design needs to support two RAM sticks of the same type and speed to support dual channels. You can also find high-end RAM kits with three or four modules that support three-channel or four-channel memory designs on the motherboard.

For practical purposes, the multi-channel design will not have much impact on daily performance. However, if you really want to use dual or more channels of memory, make sure to install the control stick in the correct colored slot on the motherboard. Check your manual for help in this area.

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