Stands for "Random Access Memory," (referred to as RAM, Modules or Memory) and is pronounced like the male sheep. RAM is made up of small memory chips that form a memory module. These modules are installed in the RAM slots on the motherboard of your computer.

Every time you open a program, it gets loaded from the HDD (hard disk drive) into the RAM. This is because reading data from the RAM is much faster than reading data from the Hard Drive. Running programs from the RAM of the computer allows them to function without any lag time. The more RAM your computer has, the more data can be loaded from the HDD into the RAM, which can effectively speed up your computer. In fact, adding RAM can be more beneficial to your computer's performance than upgrading the CPU.

The two main forms of modern RAM are static RAM (SRAM) and dynamic RAM (DRAM). In SRAM, a bit of data is stored using the state of a six transistor memory cell. This form of RAM is more expensive to produce, but is generally faster and requires less power than DRAM and, in modern computers, is often used as cache memory for the CPU. DRAM stores a bit of data using a transistor and capacitor pair, which together comprise a DRAM memory cell. The capacitor holds a high or low charge (1 or 0, respectively), and the transistor acts as a switch that lets the control circuitry on the chip read the capacitor's state of charge or change it. As this form of memory is less expensive to produce than static RAM, it is the predominant form of computer memory used in modern computers.

Both static and dynamic RAM are considered volatile, as their state is lost or reset when power is removed from the system.

Most standardised RAM Modules will look similar to this


RAM is normally rated at its highest tested stable speed, first by the chip manufacturer in cycle time (measured in nanoseconds, abbreviated ns), then by the module producer in frequency (megahertz, or MHz). Because of the inverse relationship between cycle time and frequency, knowing the rated frequency for a single chip is as easy as inverting cycle time and moving the decimal place. For example, 200 MHz SDRAM (synchronous Dynamic RAM) would be equivalent to 5 ns, because 5 ns equals 0.005 microseconds, and 1 divided by 0.005 equals 200.

By design, DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) maintains its data only as long as a charge is applied to the cells, so there is no maximum cycle time. For example, 133 MHz SDRAM could operate at 133 MHz, 100 MHz, 66 MHz, or even at speeds of less than 1 MHz, depending on how quickly the system accesses it. This allows a wide range of compatibility for higher speed modules in older systems; it is common practice for manufacturers to re-label faster RAM at slower speeds whenever the slower RAM ceases production. (This explains the popularity of "PC100" modules that use 7 ns chips.)

To check how much RAM a Windows computer has, open the "System" Control Panel. This can be done by right-clicking "My Computer" and selecting "Properties..." To view how much RAM is installed in a Macintosh computer, select "About This Mac" from the Apple Menu.

Depending on the version of Windows you are running (32bit-64bit) will depend on how much minimum ram is needed to run your machine. For windows 32-bit you need a minimum of 1GB RAM, for windows 64-bit you will need a minimum of 2GB. However there are some Gaming PC's that have upwards of 32GB of RAM!

Picture by thetechjournal

Corsair Gaming Ram with LED lights and DHX cooling. Some variants of gaming RAM can even be Overclocked to give a boost in performance!

Multi-channel RAM

Multi-channel memory architecture is a technology that increases the data transfer rate between the DRAM memory and the memory controller by adding more channels of communication between them. Theoretically this multiplies the data rate by exactly the number of channels present. Dual-channel memory employs two channels, Triple-channel employs three and Quad channel employs four.

Modern high-end processors like the Intel i7 Extreme series and various Xeons support quad-channel memory. In 2010, AMD released Socket G34 and Magny-Cours Opteron 6100 series processors with support for quad-channel memory. In 2006, Intel released chipsets that support quad-channel memory for it's LGA771 platform and later in 2011 for its LGA2011 platform.


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