What is RAM memory and why is it so important?

There is basic knowledge, like freshman year computing, which we often take for granted but that is always a pleasure to remember. From how to take a screenshot to where to find stickers thick enough to blind a laptop’s webcam, to recommendations to make your Facebook password crafted enough not to be hacked again. As I say, they may seem like things that sound trivial at first, but quoting my drunken, and probably bald, favorited Greek, Socrates: “There is only one good: knowledge. There is only one evil: ignorance.” So it won’t hurt to go back to our beginnings and find out, for example, what is RAM memory?.

By the way! First of all, clarify that many, to answer the question “what is RAM memory?”, have tried to appeal to simple analogies like our brain, but just as our mind and brain do not equal software and hardware respectively, RAM is not a transcript of our short-term memory. Short-term memory works through indications and premises that lead us to long-term memory, while RAM has a fixed and less fluctuating capacity. We prefer to think of RAM as a desk and the hard drive as a drawer. You don’t empty your entire chest of drawers on the desk. If you need something, you take it from the drawer and put it on the desk.

But to perfectly dissect the subject, we have chosen one of our most capable and nice colleagues at Pandora FMS, Rafael Ameijeiras, Project Manager, who will answer the question: what is RAM memory?, as well as some further questions about it.

What is RAM memory?

RAM memory is the main system’s memory. Unlike what its name may indicate, RAM is volatile memory, not permanent storage memory.

RAM memory is much faster than storage memory, but it is also more expensive in terms of price per megabyte, so it is generally smaller.

RAM memory is used as work memory; This means that when we open an application, it is loaded into the RAM memory and the processor operates with this application directly from the RAM, generally the processor does not read anything directly from the hard disk. There are special cases in which the storage disk is used as RAM memory (swap or paging files), but in general when this happens it is because we have run out of available RAM and the performance drop of the system is noticeable.

What does the acronym RAM mean?

The word RAM comes from the acronym: Random Access Memory,.

It is called random access because information can be loaded into memory in any position, having the same access time to that information whatever its position may be, without the need to follow an order to access the data, which would be how its counterpart works, through sequential access. This translates into much faster access to data and memory locations.

What is Ram memory for?

Basically for everything. Without RAM the system would not start. The operating system itself uses an amount of memory just to start, and each application we use, such as the office tools, the browser or the file explorers do too.

There are applications that use more memory than others. You may have heard that Google Chrome (and most modern browsers) consume a lot of RAM, and that is correct, browsers have evolved in a way that they are almost some kind of mini operating system themselves, and in an office environment, they are one of the applications that need the most amount of memory.

How much RAM does my system need?

If you do not know beforehand, you are surely an office user. In general, most computers on the market currently come with 8 GB RAM memory, which depending on the OS you use is what, in my opinion, is the standard for a smoothly-working office computer.

If you are a Poweruser, content creator, software developer or IT professional, 8GB of RAM will probably fall short very quickly, depending on your workflow and the applications you use. In general, in these cases, you usually choose between 16 and 32 Gb of RAM, and for very complicated tasks that require a lot of computing power, even more than 32 Gb. This speaking of workstations, from a server approach these numbers spike, but that would be a topic for another article.

As a side note, it is important to note that your system will be as fast as your slowest component, so just increasing RAM does not translate into a universal performance improvement. In addition to understanding that the amount of Gb of memory is not directly proportional to performance, you have to take into account other important factors such as its speed or its latency.

And up to here everything you should know about RAM. As we have seen, even the simplest concept has layers and layers of depth into it. Now the next time someone talks to you about RAM, you will already have enough knowledge to smoothly follow the conversation while having a coffee at the office. Don’t thank us. We owe it to you, our unconditional followers, all of our articles.

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