The Different Types Of Memory Devices

2561 words - 10 pages

The Different Types of Memory Devices

This technical report will look at various different memory devices
and how they are implemented in a standard computer system. Internal
memory devices such as ROM, PROM, RAM, SRAM, DRAM, SIMM and DIMM will
be looked at in order to give a clear idea of how each one operates,
and external devices such as memory sticks will also be touched upon.
Each of these devices uses different types of memory in different
ways. Over the course of this report, each of the aforementioned terms
will be technically defined and reasons will be established as to why
there are so many memory devices within a standard computer system.

Memory Devices

Technically, memory is electronic storage of any capacity; however, it
is increasingly being used to identify temporary forms of storage. If
the CPU in a standard computer system was to frequently access the
hard disk drive for data retrieval, it would operate very slowly. On
the other hand, if this much-needed data was stored in memory, not
only would it be easier to access, but the CPU would also be able to
access it much more quickly. Data that is stored in memory is
generally only kept there on a temporary basis.

The term “memory” identifies data storage that comes in the form of
silicon chips, and the word “storage” is used for memory that is
stored on disks or tapes. Moreover, the term “memory” is usually used
as shorthand for physical memory, which refers to the actual silicon
chips capable of carrying data. Some computer systems also have what’s
called “virtual memory,” which expands physical memory onto a hard
disk.

Read-Only Memory

The first memory device that will be looked at is ROM (Read-Only
Memory). ROM is "built-in" computer memory which holds data that
normally can only be read, not written to. It is used to store some of
the operating system commands, and the instruction set of the
computer. The data in ROM is not lost when the computer system is
switched off, as it is sustained by a small long-life battery embedded
within the system itself. In special purpose computers used, for
example, in washing machines and video recorders, the program
instructions are stored in ROM.

Programmable Read-Only Memory

PROM (Programmable Read-Only Memory) is ROM that can be changed only
once through user activity. Once a set of instructions or program have
been written to PROM, they are stored there permanently. This
particular internal memory is a way of allowing a user to amend/modify
a microcode program using a special machine called a “PROM Programmer”
or “PROM Burner.” This machine supplies an electrical current to
specific cells in the ROM that effectively blows a fuse in them. The
process is sometimes known as “burning the PROM.” The difference
between ROM and PROM is that a PROM is...

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