What does memory do?
Many people who are new to computers often confuse memory with hard drives as both are listed in regards to capacity on specification tables. Let’s take a closer look at what memory actually does.
The main function of memory is to store data that is to be processed by the CPU, and provide the latter with access to the data at any given time. Therefore, memory is also called buffer memory and cache memory. In a computer, the memory also exists in various forms, such as cache memory inside the CPU, buffer memory inside the hard disk, and the video memory on the graphics card (Video Memory). ). In this article, we will be introducing system memory - the DRAM installed on the motherboard.
Computers have hard drives which store data permanently as magnetic information, but even with the improved speed of today's hard drive technology. Hard drives are still too slow to keep up with the needs of the CPU since it can operate on considerably more information per second than can possibly be transferred to and from the hard drive. This is where the need for a fast, short-term memory solution comes in, a memory space that provides very fast access for the CPU so data can be written and read as needed without slowing down the system when performing task such as streaming movies, processing images, or running games.
The key function of memory is to act as a buffer between the high-speed CPU and low-speed hard disk.
However, if the amount of data that the CPU needs to process exceeds that which can be handled by DRAM, the CPU must go to the hard disk and the network directly to access the data, thus slowing things down. At this time, it is necessary to increase memory capacity to allow the CPU to focus on accessing data from DRAM, and not from external sources.
Think of this whole process as harvesting fruit (data) from a tree. If you are limited to how much fruit you can place in your pockets (DRAM), you’ll have to climb up and down the ladder more frequently to pick fruit, wasting a lot of time. If you instead had a large cloth bag, you could hold more fruit, thus cutting down the number of times you go up and down the ladder.