Important Computer Awareness Materials (Day-20) – Memory:
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The processor performs all the fundamental computation of the computer system. Other components contribute to the computation by doing such things as storing data or moving data into and out of the processor. But the processor is where the fundamental action takes place.
A processor chip has relatively little memory. It has only enough memory to hold a few instructions of a program and the data they process. Complete programs and data sets are held in memory external to the processor.
This memory is of two fundamental types: main memory, and secondary memory.
Main memory is sometimes called volatile because it loses its information when power is removed. Secondary memory is usually nonvolatile because it retains its information when power is removed. (However, it needs power when information is stored into memory or retrieved from it.)
Main memory is sometimes called main storage and secondary memory is sometimes called secondary storage or mass storage.
- closely connected to the processor.
- stored data are quickly and easily changed.
- holds the programs and data that the processor is actively working with.
- interacts with the processor millions of times per second.
- needs constant electric power to keep its information.
- connected to main memory through the bus and a controller.
- stored data are easily changed, but changes are slow compared to main memory.
- used for long-term storage of programs and data.
- before data and programs can be used, they must be copied from secondary memory into main memory.
- does not need electric power to keep its information.
Main memory is where programs and data are kept when the processor is actively using them. When programs and data become active, they are copied from secondary memory into main memory where the processor can interact with them. A copy remains in secondary memory.
Main memory is intimately connected to the processor, so moving instructions and data into and out of the processor is very fast.
Main memory is sometimes called RAM. RAM stands for Random Access Memory. “Random” means that the memory cells can be accessed in any order. However, properly speaking, “RAM” means the type of silicon chip used to implement main memory.
Secondary memory is where programs and data are kept on a long-term basis. Common secondary storage devices are the hard disk and optical disks.
- The hard disk has enormous storage capacity compared to main memory.
- The hard disk is usually contained inside the case of a computer.
- The hard disk is used for long-term storage of programs and data.
- Data and programs on the hard disk are organized into files.
- A file is a collection of data on the disk that has a name.
Question and Answer Session:
- Which is fastest? Main memory or secondary memory?
Answer: Main memory.
- Where is the word processor program that you are running located?
i. In main memory.
ii. Running programs are always located in main memory.
iii. A permanent copy will also be in secondary memory on the hard disk.
- Where are the characters you have typed?
Answer: 1. In main memory, When you “save” your document, the characters are copied to a file on the hard disk.
- Do you think that data transfer from the network is slower or faster than from main memory?
Answer: Data transfers from the network are much slower than from main memory and even slower than from hard disk.