This is the second installment of an ongoing series pertaining to computers and their internal components.
Random Access Memory, or RAM, is the part of a computer that holds information in the short-term so that your CPU can quickly retrieve it and use it to execute tasks as needed. It keeps what your processor needs right then and there and is often compared to an office desk in that it provides easy access to anything you might need. Memory is constantly and frequently being utilized by your computer to respond to any changes that may be made as a result of user input – in fact, my computer is using RAM to make the transition smoother between WordPress(which I’m writing this on), YouTube(where I have my music playing), and my various source pages. Thanks to RAM, these transitions are practically instant, but due to the presence of wired connections and inherently less speed in hard drives, they would take much longer without it. RAM allows you to keep more programs and/or tabs open at once and is a vital tool for multitasking, although it does erase itself once your computer shuts down.
Most computers have between 4 and 16 GB of RAM, and most smartphones have up to 12 GB – as a general rule, the more, the better. If you’re doing a lot of heavy gaming or productivity tasks/multitasking on your computer, then 16GB is likely necessary, but for most, 8 will do. The speed of the RAM itself is measured in Hz, similarly to clock speeds on CPUs – most RAM today has speeds in the MHz range, although the speed of the RAM itself isn’t as important as how much of it there is or the generation of it. RAM has evolved in DDR generations for some time now, with both physical changes and significant MHz increases coming with each successive generation. The latest RAM models are all DDR4, although some slightly older systems may be found with DDR3 RAM.
RAM comes in sticks, as can be seen in the pictures, and is installed into an appropriate DIMM slot, where they practically snap into place with two tabs on the sides. Most motherboards in computers allow for dual-channel memory(2 sticks at a time), although the higher-end models found in more expensive gaming PCs or workstations can be found with support for quad-channel memory. RAM is essential for computers, phones, and other devices to be able to operate at the speed at which they do, although with things like Google Chrome eating up so much of it, we’ll start to need more and more of it in the coming years. But then again, that’s how everything works with computers, isn’t it
No, in case you were somehow wondering, you cannot download RAM. Oh, and also, there’s a difference between memory and storage on a computer, even though they’re essentially the same thing in your brain.