Random Access Memory (RAM)

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  • DIMMs and SIMMs
  • RAM
  • Random Access Memory
  • Memory
  • Memory Sticks


What Is RAM?

RAM is an acronym, it’s short for Random Access Memory.  A single RAM (memory) module is made up of integrated circuits. Those integrated circuits store information on them and that information can is then accessed by the computers CPU. The modules are usually installed (on your motherboard) in pairs.

Since it is also referred to as memory, it is often confused with hard drive space, which is also sometimes called memory.  However, generally speaking, when someone mentions memory, they are more than likely talking about RAM.

Note: Usually when someone is looking to buy a new computer, one the first things they should ask is the amount of available memory the computer comes with.

The images below show what various RAM modules look like:

Random Access Memory Modules

Different RAM Modules – Click to Enlarge

What Does RAM Do?

The miracle of RAM happens when you turn on the computer and double click on your favorite game or program.  The contents information such as your software programs and data documents is temporarily stored in the RAM modules, meaning it is now ready for use and appears on your computer screen.

Your program will remain stored in RAM until you exit (close) the program.  Also everything is removed from RAM when you turnoff the computer, so make sure you save it to your hard drive before closing your application or shutting off the computer.


Why is it Called Random?

While read only memory (ROM) can be accessed in a certain order, like a cassette tape, random access memory can be accessed from any point at any time, as long as you know the exact location of the cell the memory is stored in. Most of a computers’ quick access memory is stored in RAM, but there is an issue when the computer looses power; the memory is erased.


What are Some Technical Things About RAM?

RAM is measured in megabytes or gigabytes.  A megabyte is the equivalent of one million (1,048,576) bytes, while a gigabyte represents 1,024 megabytes (1,073,741,824 bytes).  A byte equals one unit of information.  Megabytes and gigabyte are the measurement used for RAM, CD-ROMs, Floppy Disks and Hard Drives.

The speed of the the memory, or its data transfer rate, is how fast the data can travel between the RAM and the processor. The speed is measured in MHz, (or megahertz). One megahertz is one million frequency cycles per second.


What are the Different Types of Computer RAM Modules?

  • Fast Page Mode RAM (FPM RAM) – Fast Page Mode RAM was the traditional RAM for computers. It was eventually replaced by EDO RAM.
  • Extended Data Output RAM (EDO RAM) – EDO RAM was an improvement to FPM RAM. One such improvement was that data was read faster with EDO.
  • Synchronous Dynamic RAM (SDRAM)
  • Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic RAM (DDR2 & DDR3 SDRAM) – Today’s standard.


How Can I Find Out How Much RAM is Installed on My Computer?

The steps you need to take in order to find out the amount of random access memory (RAM) that is installed on your computer, will depend on the type of computer you have.  See steps below.

How much RAM is installed on a:

Personal Computer (PC)

Windows 10

1. Click the Windows “Start” button
2. Click the “Settings” wheel (looks like a round gear)
3. Select “System” Icon
4. Scroll down and select “About”
5. Look for “Installed RAM” near middle of screen
6. To close the screen, click the “X” near the top right of the dialogue box

Note: In Windows 10, if you have activated “Cortana”, you can also type “Settings” or say “Go to Settings” in the “Ask me anything” box and you will be taken to the settings area.  You can also just say “How much RAM” and Cortana should replay back with the amount of RAM installed on your PC.

Windows 7 and 8

1. Click on the “Start” button (bottom left on desktop)
2. Go to the “My Computer” icon
3. Right click on “My Computer” and select “Properties”
5. In the “System” section of “View Basic Information About Your Computer” screen, refer to the “Installed memory (RAM)” area, you will be shown the available amount of RAM and usable RAM installed

Macintosh Computer (Mac)

1. Click the “Apple” menu
2. Select “About this Mac”
3. Click the “More Info” selection, this will then bring up the “About Mac” window
4. Click “Memory” you will then be shown the amount of RAM that is installed
5. To close the screen, click the Red dot or light in the top left of the dialogue box

Linux PC

Since most Linux distributions are different, the best way to find out the amount of RAM on a Linux PC, is by using the “Command” console, also known as the “Terminal”. You will need to search for an icon either on the desktop or in the applications area in most Linux PC’s.

1. Open the “Terminal” app (might be in the accessories section)
2. Type in the following commands without the quotes: “cat /proc/meminfo” and hit the “Enter” button or “Return key”
3. Look for “Total Memory” expressed in KB (kilobytes)
4. To Exit Type: Exit and then click “X” in top of dialogue box.

Note: If you don’t want to perform the keyboard commands in terminal, try looking for:

1. Applications ==> System Settings ==> “About” or “Hardware”

How Do I Find Out What Type RAM Memory is in My PC?

Below are three ways to do so:

  1. Using a memory configurator is one quick way to solve is problem. Some memory makers will have a memory configurator on their site.
  2. The best way to determine the type of memory you use in your computer is to read the owner’s manual. No owner’s manual, no problem. Visit your computers motherboard website should you need assistance.
  3. Another very important thing to consider when buying your memory is to be sure it is compatible with your system. Also, you’ll need to decide how much memory you need and consider the price, quality, availability, service, and warranty.


Who Makes Random Access Memory (RAM)?

Learn More About Random Access Memory (RAM)!