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Last modified: Tuesday, February 24, 2004 

Pronounced ramm, acronym for random access memory, a type of computer memory that can be accessed randomly; that is, any byte of memory can be accessed without touching the preceding bytes. RAM is the most common type of memory found in computers and other devices, such as printers.

There are two basic types of RAM:

  • dynamic RAM (DRAM)
  • The two types differ in the technology they use to hold data, dynamic RAM being the more common type. Dynamic RAM needs to be refreshed thousands of times per second. Static RAM does not need to be refreshed, which makes it faster; but it is also more expensive than dynamic RAM. Both types of RAM are volatile, meaning that they lose their contents when the power is turned off.

    In common usage, the term RAM is synonymous with main memory, the memory available to programs. For example, a computer with 8M RAM has approximately 8 million bytes of memory that programs can use. In contrast, ROM (read-only memory) refers to special memory used to store programs that boot the computer and perform diagnostics. Most personal computers have a small amount of ROM (a few thousand bytes). In fact, both types of memory (ROM and RAM) allow random access. To be precise, therefore, RAM should be referred to as read/write RAM and ROM as read-only RAM.

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    For pages about RAM . Also check out the following links!

    Related Links

    A Guide to RAM 
    Discusses how memory works, what applications use the most of it, how to shop for it., and how to install it.

    Building Your Own PC 
    What hard-core techies and companies like Dell and Compaq have been doing for years is what any computer user can learn how to do - build a computer from scratch. Let SE take you on a stroll through the park and ease the pain of building a DIY PC.

    RAM information page 
    This site hosts an extensive collection of information on RAM. Included are explanations on the different types of RAM, with links to related sites.

    System Memory Overviews 
    Describes memory technology types, memory speed, access and timing, DRAM technologies, memory size and packaging, errors, detection and correction, and logical memory layout. This page is from "The PC Guide".

    Logical Memory Layout
    Describes how memory is allocated and how it is used within the PC. This page is from "The PC Guide".

    Memory Speed, Access and Timing
    Describes how the system memory works. Includes details on how memory is accessed and important issues related to system timing. This page is from "The PC Guide".

    Memory Technology Types
    Describes the main types of memory used in PCs (ROM, RAM, SRAM, and DRAM) and how they differ from each other. This page is from "The PC Guide".

    PC Guide's system memory reference
    Extensive reference covering the system memory. Covers technology types, memory speed and timing, packaging, error detection and correction, and the logical memory layout.

    SDRAM vs. RDRAM, Facts and Fantasy
    In-depth analysis of Rambus' RDRAM aims to find its technological advantages and disadvantages, as well as reach a verdict on the SDRAM vs. RDRAM issue.

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    related categories


    related terms

    allocated memory

    commit charge

    dynamic RAM

    main memory





    tag RAM

    Von Neumann machine



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