Memory is an essential part of a computer system and plays a major role in deciding how smoothly it works. If you’re new to the world of computers, you’ll probably find it surprising how many types of computer memory is used inside a computer system. To keep matters simple, the computer memory is broadly classified as primary memory and secondary memory.
– Primary Memory
Also referred to as the “volatile memory”, primary memory is the internal memory of a computer. It forms the foundation of your computer’s working space.
Here’s what comes under the category of “primary memory”.
1. Random Access Memory (RAM)
RAM or Random Access Memory is read/write computer memory that stores information on temporary basis. Every time your computer is shut down or loses power supply, your RAM gets flushed.
2. Read Only Memory (ROM)
As the name suggests, the information in ROM is stored permanently. It can be read but not changed or erased. It stores the standard boot programs that enable your computer to function properly.
The PROM is the Programmable Read Only Memory. Contrary to its typical characteristics, the information on PROM can be altered and stored by programmers. However, once saved, the information remains intact even if the computer is shut down.
The Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory defies all typical definitions of ROM. Not only is it programmable but its information can also be erased by exposure to the ultraviolet light. A programmer can reuse the EPROM indefinitely.
5. Cache Memory
It acts as an intermediary between the main memory and the central processing unit (CPU). It stores temporary information about programs currently being used or those used frequently. This makes it possible to improve the processing speed of your computer. However, to keep costs under control, most computers have a small cache memory sufficient enough to improve performance without being too expensive.
Processed data needs to be transferred with high speed. To facilitate this process, computers have registers – small, data-saving units located near the main memory, which store information temporarily as instructed by the central control unit.
– Secondary Memory
The secondary memory of a computer system is primarily concerned with creating backups. This computer memory is externally placed and usually stores information permanently. It includes the following:
7. Magnetic Tape
Not very popular for personal use, the magnetic tape is an inexpensive method of archiving data. Its mechanism is very similar to the cassette tape – data is stored along the magnetic material and read by a central processor. It is still very popular with ecommerce and large scale businesses.
8. Magnetic Disk
These disks are coated with magnetic material on both sides, enabling users to store double the amount of data. The information on a magnetic disk is stored in concentric circles called tracks. The disk can be read many times; however, recording new information requires you to erase off the previous data.
9. Optical Disk
The optical disk allows you to expand your computer’s memory in order to accommodate new applications and software. They’re capable of storing voluminous amounts of information and are therefore becoming a storage medium of choice for many.
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