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Memory. At the word we think of human memory, and of machine memory. Computer memory.
Memory is a vital part of both machine and animal. Without it we as humans would not have any consciousness and the ability to create. Animals would not be able to survive.
In machines, and especially in computers, memory allows the machine
to function in various ways, for example software to be run and data
to be saved and processed.
Memory. Something just about everyone could use more of, including your computer. Memory is the ability to retain data for a period of time, short or long. This data can be of a complexity including imagery, sounds, sensations, smells and other sensations like human memory, or it can be predetermined data as in computer memory.
One of the differences between human and machine memory is that we can program and access machine memory through the use of software, but we cannot access human memory in the same straightforward manner. Yet.
Lets now talk about computer memory.
To start with there are basically two types of memory for a computer: storage space (hard drive) and active memory (RAM).
We will focus on active memory or RAM.
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People in the computer industry commonly use the term "memory" to refer to RAM (Random Access Memory). As your processor cranks on your game, it uses RAM to store some of the data needed to make your game work. While all forms of memory work together, RAM is considered the main memory since most data, regardless of its source, is stored in RAM before it is registered in any other storage device. Consequently, RAM is used millions of times every second. A computer uses Ram to hold temporary instructions and data needed to complete tasks. This enables the computer's CPU (Central Processing Unit), to access instructions and data stored in memory very quickly.
Computer memory is extremely important to computer operation. Files and programs are loaded into memory from external media like fixed disks (hard drives) and removable disks (floppies tapes). Memory can be built right into a system board, but it is more typically attached to the system board in the form of a chip or module. Inside these chips are microscopic digital switches which are used to represent binary data.
A good example of this is when the CPU loads an application program - such as a word processing or page layout program - into memory, thereby allowing the application program to work as quickly and efficiently as possible. In practical terms, having the program loaded into memory means that you can get work done more quickly with less time spent waiting for the computer to perform tasks.
The process begins when you enter a command from your keyboard. The CPU interprets the command and instructs the hard drive to load the command or program into memory. Once the data is loaded into memory, the CPU is able to access it much more quickly than if it had to retrieve it from the hard drive.
This process of putting things the CPU needs in a place where it can get at them more quickly is similar to placing various electronic files and documents you're using on the computer into a single file folder or directory. By doing so, you keep all the files you need handy and avoid searching in several places every time you need them.
In general the more RAM a computer has the faster the computer operates. Why? RAM is where all the information is kept just before the computer needs to use it.
Think of it this way. During a conversation a person can speak without interruption if everything being talked about is in his or her memory. However, if a person does not have enough memory and has to look something up during the course of the conversation, in a book or newspaper, then the conversation stops until the needed information is found.
Computers are very similar; they can continue processing without interruption as long as all needed information is in memory (RAM). When that is not the case, the computer stops, retrieves the needed information from storage (i.e. Hard drive, CD, disk) and places it into memory and then continues processing. The more interruptions the computer receives to retrieve information the slower the computer. The more memory a computer has, the fewer interruptions and the faster the computer operates. More memory equates to more speed.
These days, no matter how much memory your computer has, it never seems to be quite enough. Not long ago, it was unheard of for a PC (Personal Computer), to have more than 1 or 2 MB (Megabytes) of memory. Today, most systems require 64MB to run basic applications. And up to 256MB or more is needed for optimal performance when using graphical and multimedia programs.
As an indication of how much things have changed over the past two decades, consider this: in 1981, referring to computer memory, Bill Gates said, "640K (roughly 1/2 of a megabyte) ought to be enough for anybody."
For some, the memory equation is simple: more is good; less is bad. However,
for those who want to know more, this reference guide contains answers
to the most common questions, plus much, much more.
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