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  Computer Dictionary : memory
 

Welcome to the eComputer Bay's Computer Dictionary - the free online dictionary of computer and technology terms. The goal of the Computer Dictionary is to not just define computer terms, but explain them as well.

Definitions of computer terms are helpful, but explanations with examples are even better. eComputer Bay contains hundreds of computer and technology terms, all with detailed explanations.

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Computer Term

1. Memory

Just like humans, computers rely a lot on memory. They need to process and store data, just like we do. However, computers store data in digital format, which means the information can always be called up exactly the way it was stored. Also, unlike our memory, the computer's memory doesn't get worse over time.

While memory can refer to any medium of data storage, it usually refers to RAM, or random access memory. When your computer boots up, it loads the operating system into its memory, or RAM. This allows your computer to access system functions, such as handling mouse clicks and keystrokes, since the event handlers are all loaded into RAM. Whenever you open a program, the interface and functions used by that program are also loaded into RAM.

RAM is a very high-speed type of memory, which makes it ideal for storing active programs and system processes. It is different than hard disk space in that RAM is made up of physical memory chips, while hard disks are magnetic disks that spin inside a hard drive. Accessing RAM is much faster than accessing the hard disk because RAM access is based on electric charges, while the hard drive needs to seek to the correct part of the disk before accessing data. However, all the information stored in RAM is erased when the computer's power is turned off. The hard disk, on the other hand, stores data magnetically without requiring any electrical power. For more information on the difference between RAM and hard disk space, view this Help Center article.

Another common type of memory is flash memory, which is typically used for small devices such as digital cameras, USB keychain drives, and portable music players like the iPod nano. This kind of memory, known as "electrically erasable programmable read-only memory" (EEPROM), is convenient for portable devices, since it stores information even when its power source is turned off, but is smaller and more resilient than a hard drive.

To summarize, memory is a vital part of the way computers and many electronic devices function. While memory and RAM can often be used synonymously, it is good to know about other types of memory as well. Hopefully you will be able to store the information you've learned in your own memory.

2. Memory Module

A memory module is another name for a RAM chip. It is often used as a general term used to describe SIMM, DIMM, and SO-DIMM memory. While there are several different types of memory modules available, they all serve the same purpose, which is to store temporary data while the computer is running.

Memory modules come in different sizes and have several different pin configurations. For example, the original SIMMs had 30 pins (which are metal contacts that connect to the motherboard). However, newer SIMM chips have 72 pins. DIMMs commonly come in 168-pin configurations, but some DIMMs have as many as 240 pins. SO-DIMMs have a smaller form factor than standard DIMM chips, and come in 72-pin, 144-pin, and 200-pin configurations.

While "memory module" is the technical term used to describe computer memory, the terms "RAM," "memory," and "RAM chip" are just as acceptable. But remember, while memory terms may be interchangeable, the memory itself is not. This is because most computers only accept one type of memory. Therefore, if you decide to upgrade you computer's RAM, make sure the memory modules you buy are compatible with your machine.

3. Memory Stick

Memory Stick is a type of flash memory developed by Sony. It is used to store data for digital cameras, camcorders, and other kinds of electronics. Because Memory Stick is a proprietary Sony product, it is used by nearly all of Sony's products that use flash media. Unfortunately, this also means Memory Stick cards are incompatible with most products not developed by Sony.

Memory Stick cards are available in two versions: Memory Stick PRO and Memory Stick PRO Duo. Memory Stick PRO cards are 50mm long by 21.5mm wide and are 2.8mm thick. Memory Stick PRO Duo cards are 31mm long by 20mm wide and are only 1.6mm thick. High-speed versions of Memory Stick media support data transfer rates up to 80Mbps, or 10 MB/sec, which is fast enough record high-quality digital video.



 
 



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