Computer data storage

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Computer data storage, often called storage or memory, refers to computer components and recording media that retain digital data used for computing for some interval of time. Computer data storage provides one of the core functions of the modern computer, that of information retention. It is one of the fundamental components of all modern computers, and coupled with a central processing unit (CPU, a processor), implements the basic computer model used since the 1940s.

In contemporary usage, memory usually refers to a form of semiconductor storage known as random-access memory, typically DRAM (Dynamic-RAM) but memory can refer to other forms of fast but temporary storage. Similarly, storage today more commonly refers to storage devices and their media not directly accessible by the CPU (secondary or tertiary storage) — typically hard disk drives, optical disc drives, and other devices slower than RAM but more permanent.[1] Historically, memory has been called main memory, real storage or internal memory while storage devices have been referred to as secondary storage, external memory or auxiliary/peripheral storage.

The contemporary distinctions are helpful, because they are also fundamental to the architecture of computers in general. The distinctions also reflect an important and significant technical difference between memory and mass storage devices, which has been blurred by the historical usage of the term storage. Nevertheless, this article uses the traditional nomenclature.


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