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What is Memory


Memory refers to any form of data storage, whether it's the amount of available space on a USB flash drive, a hard disk or DVD or the amount of random access memory you have in your computer. Every file and program stored on a computer or any other device takes up a certain amount of memory. When a file or program is open, the data is loaded into RAM (random access memory) for immediate access.

Memory is measure in bytes, but exactly which form of bytes depends on the type of memory we are talking about. It's often confusing to those unfamiliar with computer terminology as many people confuse things like hard disk capacity with system memory, even though they are completely different components. Storage media, such as hard disks where you store all of your programs and files on a computer, portable media such as USB flash drives, digital camera memory cards or DVDs are typically measured in gigabytes.

RAM is something quite different. RAM is what your computer uses to store open files and data from running programs. With more RAM installed in your computer, you'll be able to run more programs (a process known as multitasking) and get more done. You'll also be able to open larger files. Having a decent amount of RAM in your computer is essential for memory-intensive tasks such as playing 3D video games, editing home videos and running various productivity applications. RAM is installed in your computer in the form of RAM sticks. These are long, narrow circuit boards which are connected to the main circuit board inside your computer. Laptop computers use a slightly different, more compact design. Adding more RAM to your desktop or laptop computer is one of the cheapest and easiest ways of greatly improving performance.

Memory is also found in other components in your computer, such as the graphics card. Computer specifications usually list something called "graphics memory." This is the amount of memory dedicated to rendering 3D graphics such as those in video games. A high-end modern graphics card, for example, may provide more than one gigabyte of memory of its own, entirely dedicated to improving the performance of video games and 3D productivity applications.

Another type of memory often referred to in computing specifications is "cache" memory. Cache memory (pronounced "cash") is where frequently used data and instructions are stored for the quickest access. A processor, for example, has two to three caches where the most commonly used instructions are stored.

 

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