What Is Computer Memory and Its Types?

Our dependence on computers increases with each passing day, making it even more important that individuals understand the essential parts responsible for allowing a computer to properly function. Computers comprise several elements such as a central processing unit (CPU), motherboard, graphic processing unit, and various types of components for memory storage. These include random access memory (RAM), hard disk drives (HDD), solid-state drives (SDD), read only memory (ROM), and flash drive parts. Of these components, the computer memory storage units are the most critical part for their responsibility in performing all tasks the user enters on a computer. Memory devices store information either temporarily or permanently in a computer for use—memory stores data in the computer in binary form, i.e., 0 and 1.

Computer memory is similar to a brain, providing space to store information that can be accessed swiftly. When a user inputs a command, such as turning on the computer or typing on the keyboard, the input command will be sent to the ROM. The memory controller will look for the address and execute a quick read and write operation. The computer memory will then load data or information from the hard drive to the RAM and provide an output. Hence, a computer will not work without proper memory storage or access components.

Primary Memory

Primary memory is the internal storage in computers that allows for quick data access within the computer with the help of RAM and ROM. RAM, also called cache memory, is the heart of a computer system that allows quick access to information. RAM is a high-speed device that allows users to access information quickly; however, information stored on this component is only held for a brief period which acts to increase the speed of your computer. As a result, the more RAM a computer has, the faster it can dig through a system to find the data you are looking for. However, RAM is also volatile, which means that the data stored across such parts will be gone once a computer shuts down. Depending on one’s primary use, there are two types of RAMS, including static random access memory (SRAM) and dynamic random access memory (DRAM).

On the other hand, ROM is a primary memory that can store data permanently, making it a non-volatile memory type. Furthermore, ROM also operates as a programmable chip and stores crucial information to start the computer. The data in ROM cannot be overwritten, deleted, or modified by a user. Additionally, ROM is categorized into three types, those of which are mask ROM (MROM), programmable ROM (PROM), and an erasable programmable ROM (EROM).

Secondary Memory

The memory that serves to store data and software is known as secondary memory or auxiliary memory. Secondary memory is volatile and processes data more slowly than primary memory. Since secondary memory is not inherently required for system operations, it is not often deemed as important as primary memory. Depending on your needs, there are a number of secondary memory types, some of which we will discuss below.

A solid-state drive (SSD) is a form of storage device that relies on NAND flash memory. SSDs are known for being faster than other secondary memory types, such as an HDD. An HDD, or hard disk drive, is the most common option for secondary storage for a computer where all data is stored. The HDD is also referred to as a magnetic storage device since it uses a magnetized platter to store information. This type of memory is extremely affordable and offers large space for data storage when compared to other similar options. Other types of secondary memory include flash drives or thumb drives, pen drives, and USB drives which are all commonly used to store, rewrite, and delete data quickly.


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