RAM – A Comprehensive Guide

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Since the release of first computers people were intrigued by the way that the magical machine works. The first computers were basic machines capable of only calculating and solving simple mathematical calculations and problems, like addition and subtraction.

Today you can play games with striking realism ,3D modeling, and architecture that changes our lives in every aspect.

But it took a long time to get to the point where we are today. In 1822, Charles Babbage conceptualized and began developing the Difference Engine, which is considered the first automatic computing machine that could approximate polynomials.

The Difference Engine was capable of computing several sets of numbers and making hard copies of the results. This machine was operated by mechanical movements without electricity.

As technology advanced, as did the consciousness of people themselves, computers themselves started becoming more capable of completing more complex tasks, some of them were integral parts of sending a man to the Moon.

By that time, computers were electrical but they were huge and all of the coding was required to be written and input by hand into the computer itself.

They had RAM that was calculated in bytes, and some of the most sophisticated computers where their RAM was calculated in megabytes.

Now, compare that to the standard 16-32 Gigabytes of RAM that some standard laptops and computers have today. The difference is mental once you understand that 1 gigabyte is 1024 megabytes and that 1 megabyte is 1024 kilobytes. Calculate that, I suck at math.

Table of Contents

Now lets talk about RAM Memory

What is RAM memory and why it is important?

RAM stands for random access memory or “temporary memory”, It is where applications you are using are stored. Without it, none of your programs, files and games would work.

Every computing device has RAM, whether it’s a desktop computer (running Windows, MacOS, or Linux), a tablet or smartphone, or even special-purpose computing devices (such as smart TV’s and watches). Nearly all computers also have some way to store information for long-term access too, but the working processes are done in RAM.

Types of RAM

Today, two types of RAM exist: Static RAM (SRAM) and  Dynamic RAM (DRAM)

Static RAM (SRAM)

The word static indicates that the memory retains its contents as long as power is being supplied. However, data is lost when the power gets down due to volatile nature. SRAM chips use a matrix of 6-transistors and no capacitors. Transistors do not require power to prevent leakage, so SRAM do not need to be refreshed on a regular basis.

There is extra space in the matrix, hence SRAM uses more chips than DRAM for the same amount of storage space, making the manufacturing costs higher. SRAM is thus used as cache memory and has very fast access. 

Characteristic of Static RAM

•             Long life

•             No need to refresh

•             Faster

•             Used as cache memory

•             Large size

•             Expensive

•             High power consumption

Dynamic RAM (DRAM)

DRAM, unlike SRAM, must be continually refreshed in order to maintain the data. This is done by placing the memory on a refresh circuit that rewrites the data several hundred times per second. DRAM is used for most system memory as it is cheap and small. All DRAMs are made up of memory cells, which are composed of one capacitor and one transistor.

Characteristics of Dynamic RAM

•             Short data lifetime

•             Needs to be refreshed continuously

•             Slower compared to SRAM

•             Used as RAM

•             Smaller in size

•             Less expensive

•             Less power consumption

What is the purpose of RAM memory

As you can probably imagine, RAM memory has variety of purposes. But of course the most important job that RAM has is to save stuff, since you know you are gonna probably need it at some point.

But RAM doesn’t work like normal memory, instead it only saves the data that you are using in the current session on your computer. When you shut it down, the RAM shuts down with it and deletes all of the temporary files. RAM is temporary storage that goes away when the power turns off. So what is RAM used for, then? It’s very fast, which makes it ideal for tasks the computer is actively working on, such as applications that are currently running (for example, the web browser in which you’re reading this article) and the data those applications work on or with (such as this article).

It can help to think about RAM with the analogy of a physical desktop. Your working space — where you scribble on something immediately — is the top of the desk, where you want everything within arm’s reach and you want no delay in finding anything. That’s RAM. In contrast, if you want to keep anything to work on later, you put it into a desk drawer — or store it on a hard disk, either locally or in the cloud.

Ultimately, RAM allows you to access multiple programs at once with speed and efficiency.

RAM is significantly faster than a hard disk — twenty to a hundred times faster, depending on the specific hardware type and task the computer is being given.

Because of its speed, RAM is used to process information immediately. When you want to accomplish a specific task, computer operating systems load data from the hard disk into RAM to process it, such as to sort a spreadsheet or to display it on screen. When it’s done actively “doing something,” the computer (sometimes at your instruction) saves it into long term storage.

How Much RAM Do You Need?

The more RAM a computing device has, the faster it runs. If your device is old, you might need to upgrade the hardware. Every open application (including tabs in a web browser) consumes RAM. You can run out — and when that happens, the computer has to move things around on the hard disk, which slows down the computer. ? It really depends on the kind of work you do, how many things you do at once, and how impatient you are. As with so many other parts of computing, we always want our devices to respond instantly!

2 GB RAM

Starting from the worst of course, since we are normal people. 2 GB of RAM is considered low, and this amount is most commonly found in the cheapest laptops and notebooks. It will be more than enough for running basic everyday tasks like Microsoft Office apps or your preferred Web browser.

You won’t be able to install and run Windows 11 because it requires at least 4 GB of RAM. But I am being honest, for today’s standards 2 GB of RAM is terrible.

Even some mediocre smartphones have at least 4 to 8 GB’s of RAM memory, and they need it a lot less then a PC or a Lap Top should have it . For almost sometime now, computers are not being made with this low amount of RAM memory(a least the commercial ones), but instead they have at least 4 GB of RAM. And now if you can see and understand, 4 GB’s of RAM is really a low point for any type of computer or smartphone’s today.

This is due to the incredibly fast evolution of technology, and even some of the most basic programs that you can install on your device require at least 4 GB of RAM so they could even start at all.

4 GB RAM

Not a massive difference in comparison to 2 GB of RAM, but it can still do some more demanding tasks.

For example, running several web browsing tabs and applications other than Microsoft Office. Most suitable for students and average computer users. It’s worth considering if you’re on an extreme budget. If you choose this amount, it’s highly advisable to use an operating system that requires less RAM since windows will eat up most of it. Like I said, for today’s standard this is basically a low point for any type of computer device since anything below this , wouldn’t be able to start even some of the most basic programs of today’s standards.

With 4 GB’s of RAM you can basically just play games that are made prior to the 2010. From that time and in the future it is almost impossible to play any game without difficulties. And if you are gamer, like I am, a game that lags is really frustrating and it kills all joy of playing it.  So you see my point, avoid it. That is of course if you aren’t a student or you are just on a really tight budget.

8 GB RAM

Typically installed on entry-level notebooks and laptops, 8 GB of RAM is fine for basic Windows gaming at lower to medium settings, but it rapidly runs out of steam. It can handle more demanding tasks like high-end games, 3D animation, and graphic programs, but it will struggle to do so.

For todays standard, 8 GB’s of RAM is considered to be a lower to mid range of amount of memory and it usually comes with devices that are in that type of price range.

With 8 GB’s of RAM you can run some older version of Adobe Photoshop and it would run somewhat smoothly and you can play games that were made between 2013. And 2016. Without big trouble. But anything after that you are going to go trough a living hell if you try it. So don’t. Just don’t.

16 GB RAM

Okay, now we are talking! 16 GB is the golden ratio when it comes to RAM.

It’s optimal and will run most games without problems while also being affordable. It’s slightly more expensive than the three types listed above. But the capabilities are worth the little extra you’re paying. It won’t have any problems running the heaviest and most graphically intensive applications such as 3D games, 3d Modelling software, editing software and other complex programs.

Typically found in devices that are relative in the current tech community and in devices of the “medium” price range. You can play almost any game released before 2020 on very high settings.

But anything after that, when it comes to the some of the more demanding games, you are probably going to have to settle for medium settings. Sucks, I know, but that’s life.

32 GB RAM

This is the sweet spot for professionals. Gamers can enjoy occasional and slight performance improvement in the most demanding games. But it’s most beneficial to those users that are running Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Virtual Linux, or simply those who like keeping 50 chrome tabs open. It really is self explanatory since I can guess that many of you are even surprised that this even exists today.

32 GB’s of RAM has been around for some time now, but as you can guess it was reserved for only the high end devices and some for consumers with deeper pockets.

64 GB RAM

Alright, now we are getting into some fantasy world. 64 GB of RAM(or more) tends to be overkill for 99.9% of users.

However, there might be niche situations where this much power is beneficial. Some examples include editing 4K footage, working with 3D models, running virtual machines, and so on. Even I didn’t know this existed until some time ago. It really isn’t necessary unless you’re working for NASA or something like that, or if you have a lot of money.

But if you have money for 64 GB;s of RAM, then it would really be a shame if you didn’t make your PC all covered in diamonds, am I right?

In conclusion, the amount of RAM you will need depends on the tasks you want to perform. Like I said above, different jobs will use different amounts of RAM.  And different pockets too!

Understanding what DDR means and RAM product names.

There are five generations of DDR memory. DDR5 is the most recent and advanced one. Most modern PC’s and the best motherboards require DDR5 or DDR4, as they are the most advanced ones. Unfortunately, older systems may only support DDR3 or even DDR2.

When it comes to understanding RAM product names, you’ll see the vendor name, followed by the product’s branding. Then the RAM type and finally a four-digit number. That four-digit number tells you how many mega transfers a RAM can do in one second. 

In general, the higher the number, the better. For example, the Super Talent Project X DDR4-3000 16GB RAM can conduct 3000 mega transfers in one second. Simply put, the best options for buying are DDR4 and DDR5, with the highest MT/s numbers.

RAM memory speed

Memory Speed: The amount of time that it takes RAM to receive a request from the processor and then read or write data. Generally, the faster the RAM, the faster the processing speed.

With faster RAM, you increase the speed at which memory transfers information to other components. Meaning, your fast processor now has an equally fast way of talking to the other components, making your computer much more efficient.

RAM speed is measured in Megahertz (MHz), millions of cycles per second so that it can be compared to your processor’s clock speed. For Dell desktops and laptops, memory speed can range from the standard 1333 MHz all the way up to speeds of 2133 MHz.

The speed of your processor and the bus speed of the motherboard are the limiting factors on the speed of RAM installed in your computer. RAM upgrades are limited by the capability of the computer and the availability of expansion slots for adding RAM. Often, upgrading RAM may involve replacing existing RAM modules with larger modules that are again limited by the capability of the computer.

DDR speeds

Friendly nameIndustry namePeak Transfer RateData transfers/second (in millions)
DDR-200PC-16001600 MB/s200
DDR-266PC-21002100 MB/s266
DDR-300PC-24002400 MB/s300
DDR-333PC-27002700 MB/s333
DDR-400PC-32003200 MB/s400

DDR2 speeds

Friendly nameIndustry namePeak Transfer RateData transfers/second (in millions)
DDR2-400PC2-32003200 MB/s400
DDR2-533PC2-42004266 MB/s533
DDR2-667PC2-53005333 MB/s667
DDR2-800PC2-64006400 MB/s800
DDR2-1000PC2-80008000 MB/s1000

DDR3 speeds

Friendly nameIndustry namePeak Transfer RateData transfers/second (in millions)
DDR3-800PC3-64006400 MB/s800
DDR3-1066PC3-85008533 MB/s1066
DDR3-1333PC3-1060010667 MB/s1333
DDR3-1600PC3-1280012800 MB/s1600

DDR4 speeds

Friendly nameIndustry namePeak Transfer RateData transfers/second (in millions)
DDR4-2400PC4-1920019200 MB/s2400
DDR4-2666PC4-2130021300 MB/s2666
DDR4-2933PC4-2340023400 MB/s2933
DDR4-3000PC4-2400024000 MB/s3000
DDR4-3200PC4-2560025600 MB/s3200
DDR4-3600PC4-2880028800 MB/s3600
DDR4-4000PC4-3200032000 MB/s4000
DDR4-4400PC4-3520035200 MB/s4400

Conclusion

So, we have learned today what RAM is and why is it important to us!  We have also learned different speeds and types of RAM memory. This may seem complicated for someone that is just getting into the amazing world of technology but trust me it is not. Once you get in a little bit more, you will fully understand every single thing without difficulty.

The world of technology is vast and amazing and with the speed that tech is evolving every single day, the opportunities that technology brings are so big. Technology opens doors for jobs and many new stuff that make our lives more interesting and easier every single day. This also leaves me a big opportunity to share my knowledge with you and teach you everything I know.

Stay tuned, we have only just begun.

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