Random-access memory

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Random-access memory (RAM) is a form of computer data storage. Today, it takes the form of integrated circuits that allow stored data to be accessed in any order (that is, at random). "Random" refers to the idea that any piece of data can be returned in a constant time, regardless of its physical location and whether it is related to the previous piece of data.[1]

The word "RAM" is often associated with volatile types of memory (such as DRAM memory modules), where the information is lost after the power is switched off. Many other types of memory are RAM as well, including most types of ROM and a type of flash memory called NOR-Flash.

Contents

History

An early type of widespread writable random-access memory was the magnetic core memory, developed from 1949 to 1952, and subsequently used in most computers up until the development of the static and dynamic integrated RAM circuits in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Before this, computers used relays, delay line/delay memory, or various kinds of vacuum tube arrangements to implement "main" memory functions (i.e., hundreds or thousands of bits), some of which were random access, some not. Drum memory could be expanded at low cost but retrieval of non-sequential memory items required knowledge of the physical layout of the drum to optimize speed. Latches built out of vacuum tube triodes, and later, out of discrete transistors, were used for smaller and faster memories such as random-access register banks and registers. Prior to the development of integrated ROM circuits, permanent (or read-only) random-access memory was often constructed using semiconductor diode matrices driven by address decoders, or specially wound core memory planes.

Types of RAM

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