What is RAM?

RAM, or Random Access Memory, is used as a temporary file storage device for files needed to run open programs and the operating system itself. Computer RAM is stored on a small chip that is directly attached to SODIMM slots on the motherboard.

This storage device uses a large bandwidth to pull information from that hard drive for the CPU and GPU to work with quickly. Once the files are no longer needed, the memory is refreshed and replaced on the slim storage device.

In most cases, the more RAM your computer has the better it will perform with multi-tasking and heavy programs. Every program and application your computer runs require RAM to run.

As such an integral component to any computer, there have been a few performance enhancements to RAM chips over the years. Here’s a quick list of the different types of RAM:

  • Static RAM (SRAM)
  • Dynamic Ram (DRAM)
  • Synchronous Dynamic RAM (SDRAM)
  • Single Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic RAM (SDR SDRAM)
  • Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic RAM (DDR, SDRAM, DDR2, DDR3, DDR4)
  • Graphics Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic RAM (GDDR SDRAM, GDDR2, GDDR3, GDDR4, GDRR5)
  • Flash Memory

What is ROM?

ROM, or Read-Only Memory, is a permanent file storage module installed in computers with the startup BIOS. It is meant to give the base instructions required for your computer to bootstrap the system drive and run properly.

While ROM is used every time you start a computer, it is one of the least used types of memory in the computer. However, just like RAM, computers require a small ROM file storage chip to operate.

What’s the Difference Between Them?

Intel has a long history in computer development when it comes to memory and CPUs. The creation of RAM and ROM were for specific applications that improved the performance of the computer and added extra data redundancy. Storing the BIOS on a permanent read-only memory module gives the computer protection against tinkering accidents and malicious intrusions.

RAM is a memory chip integral to the performance of a computer. The speed and storage capacity of RAM directly affects the overall speed by holding information the CPU or GPU needs quick access to for keeping up with user requests. As RAM has a significantly faster read/write speed and bus speed than SATA storage devices, it can send and receive data from the CPU quickly for active calculations. This improves the performance of 3D applications.

RAM vs ROM: Side-by-Side Comparison

RAMROM
What it is:Memory chipMemory module
Primary use:Provide quick access to required dataContains BIOS
Conceived:19461971
Initial release:19691971
Technical committee:IntelIntel
Influential developers:IntelIntel, James T Russell
Open format:YesNo
Technologies influenced:Motherboards, CPUsMotherboards, CPUs

Similarities and Differences

Similarities

  • Both are types of memory.
  • Both are required for a computer to operate.

Differences

  • RAM can’t hold data without power, ROM can.
  • ROM is a permanent type of storage, while RAM is a temporary type of storage.
  • ROM is nonvolatile, meaning it does not require a constant source of power to retain information integrity. RAM is volatile, meaning all information is lost when the power is removed.
  • RAM is used during the normal operation of a computer. ROM is primarily used during computer start-up or bootstrapping.
  • RAM is significantly faster than ROM.
  • Increasing RAM increases the performance of a computer.

What is RAM used for?

RAM chips are used to keep active files ready for the CPU or GPU to access quickly. Most computers have two or more slots for RAM chips to be installed and these types of memory chips can replace with bigger and better chips. If you notice your computer start to slow down when using multiple programs or with a heavier program like Blender or Maya, increasing the amount of RAM available in your computer may help to smooth the experience.

Dedicated GPUs come with preinstalled types of RAM called DRAM. These memory chips hold resources specifically related to the GPU’s calculations. The only differences between RAM and DRAM are where the memory is installed. Both types operate the same way but have different development lines as GPUs require soldiered in pieces.

RAM is also used in the form of flash memory in devices like printers, portable media players, memory cards, USB flash drives, and small electronics. It operates exactly as it does on a desktop PC, but in a much smaller and non-removable way. As the exact RAM amount required for specific software applications can be calculated, devices can be designed with the exact amount needed which allows for soldiered components in custom electronic products. Many smart products use flash memory or custom RAM chips on single-chip systems.

Does ROM need to be upgraded?

ROM is meant to hold a specific file for startup permanently. You will never need to replace it. Unless you are a tinkerer, you are likely never going to deal directly with ROM. It has no real similarities to RAM other than the fact that it is one of the most necessary types of memory chips.

RAM vs ROM: Six Must-Know Facts

  • ROM stands for Read-Only Memory and is used for the permanent storage of important startup files.
  • RAM stands for Random Access Memory. It is a volatile memory type used to hold information needed for currently running applications.
  • RAM can be upgraded as long as the motherboard supports it. Most motherboards come with at least two SODIMM slots for RAM.
  • ROM can hold storage even if the power has been disrupted.
  • RAM loses all information on the chip if power is lost.
  • Both RAM and ROM are required for a computer to operate. 

RAM vs ROM: What’s the Difference? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What are RAM and ROM?

RAM and ROM are types of file storage chips that computers require in order to operate. RAM stands for Random Access Memory and is a volatile storage device that holds files needed for currently running operations. More RAM means more operations can run simultaneously. It can also help the performance of memory-intensive applications like 3D modeling or video editing.

ROM stands for Read-Only Memory. It is meant to hold permanent memory of an important BIOS file which is required for the startup and bootstrapping process that takes place when you turn the computer on.

What is RAM used for?

RAM is used to hold temporary memory for currently running applications. While you use the internal hard drives to store information, the CPU can’t pull information from a hard drive quick enough to enable the performance people have come to expect. RAM chips are designed to have a fast bus speed and are connected directly to the motherboard near the CPU. RAM takes any information needed to operate the computer and currently running applications and stores it for the quickest access possible.

RAM is used to hold temporary memory for currently running applications. While you use the internal hard drives to store information, the CPU can’t pull information from a hard drive quick enough to enable the performance people have come to expect. RAM chips are designed to have a fast bus speed and are connected directly to the motherboard near the CPU. RAM takes any information needed to operate the computer and currently running applications and stores it for the quickest access possible.

ROM is used as a small permanent file storage chip on the motherboard with the BIOS installed. The computer only reads the information for instructions on how to start up the computer and read the installed hard drives. It does this every single time the computer is turned on.

How do I know if I have enough RAM or ROM?

ROM will never need to be touched. You can just put it out of your mind for computer upgrades. RAM, on the other hand, is an opportunity to go wild. Average computer users only need about 8 GBs of RAM, but if you want to run AAA games, powerful computer design software, or use computer virtualization you’ll want more. In my opinion, you can never have enough. 32 gigabytes may be overkill for non-professionals and yet still not enough for photographers or flight simulators.

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