RAM Full Form - Random Access Memory

RAM is one of the most important parts or components for any electronic device, such as a computer, laptop, mobile phone, etc. Most people know that it plays a vital role in deciding or optimizing the overall processing power of the machine. Since often used as an abbreviation, most of the people do not know that RAM also has a full form.

In this article, we are discussing the term RAM along with other essential details, such as the full form of RAM, what is RAM, its history, characteristics, working, advantages, disadvantages, and many more.

What You Will Learn

What is the full form of RAM?

The meaning or full form of RAM is “Random Access Memory”. It is an essential type of memory used in electronic devices like computers, mobiles, etc. RAM's read and write speed is much faster than other memory types. RAM often acts as volatile cache memory, meaning that the data stored in it is temporary. This is known as 'random access' because the CPU can randomly read and write data in any single byte within this memory.

RAM Full Form

The full form of RAM can be explained as below:

R Random
A Access
M Memory

Let’s talk about what exactly the RAM is:

What is a RAM?

By definition, “RAM refers to one specific type of on-board memory or hardware in computing devices that help store core operating system services, programs, and data in a current or working state to make it accessible to CPU”.

As the computer or other electronic device is turned on, the associated operating system and other necessary data files and services are initially loaded from secondary storage into RAM. This is done because RAM is significantly faster and allows faster read/write operations than traditional storage devices such as HDDs or SSDs.

RAM is accessed directly by the computer's processor, enabling faster performance. The data stored in RAM can be erased or written as per the need of the system, which is done automatically by the CPU. A higher amount of free RAM enables faster operation. Since RAM is volatile memory; the data remains in it as long as it is connected to the power source. All stored data is erased or released once the power source is disconnected or turned off. Simply put, when we shut down the computer, the data stored in RAM is released.

Note: RAM (specifically DRAM) is known as the primary memory or main memory of a computer system.

A Brief History of RAM

Earlier in 1947, Williams tubes were included as the first type of RAM that used cathode ray tubes (CRTs). In this form of RAM, data was stored as electrically charged spots on the surface of the tubes. However, soon, magnetic-core memory was introduced to be used as another form of RAM, which was widely used at the time. Several patents were registered under the name of Frederick Viehe, who is believed to have done more work on the development or design part.

In order for it to function properly, the magnetic-core memory was equipped with small metal rings and wires attached to each ring. Each such ring had the ability to store a single bit of data that could also be retrieved at any time when required by the system.

Despite this, Robert Heath Dennard is primarily credited with inventing RAM, which significantly increased computer memory density while balancing overall cost. In 1967, he introduced one-transistor dynamic RAM, which soon developed into the industry standard for RAM and spurred the microcomputer revolution. Later in 1968, a patent for the device also was filed in his name.

Types of RAM

The random access memory of RAM is categorized mainly in the following two forms:

Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM)

DRAM uses a transistor and capacitor to store its data in bits (0 or 1). A transistor here acts as a gate that determines whether the capacitor's value can be accessed (read/written). Although it is less expensive, it is slower than SRAM. DRAM is the standard type of RAM used in most computing devices. It is a volatile memory and each cell of this memory carries a charge or lack of a charge, which is usually held in its electrical capacitors.

Data in DRAM needs to be constantly refreshed with an electronic charge to compensate for leaks through the capacitors, typically in intervals of every few milliseconds. By refreshing its data at certain intervals, it retains the temporarily stored data. Since it requires data to be refreshed more frequently, it uses more power than SRAM.

With the introduction of synchronized clock speeds in the early 1990s, the name Synchronous Dynamic RAM (SDRAM) was coined. While this helped increase speed, the original Single Data Rate SDRAM (SDR SDRAM) had the issue of reaching its limits too quickly. Therefore, double data rate synchronous dynamic random access memory (DDR SDRAM) was created in the early 2000s, which helped to transfer data twice in one clock cycle, at the beginning and end. DDR SDRAM has also been upgraded with its versions, such as DDR2, DDR3, DDR4, and DDR5 (by 2023).

Static Random Access Memory (SRAM)

SRAM is also a volatile memory since it is also a kind of RAM, but unlike DRAM, it does not require a continually refreshing mechanism. That is the reason it used comparatively less power; however, it is more costly than DRAM. Also, SRAM is much faster in speed, so it is often used in computers as a cache memory inside the CPU in small amounts. Furthermore, it is often used in smartphones, wearables, automobiles, medical equipment, and many IoT devices.

SRAM uses multiple transistors to retain each bit of data, unlike DRAM which requires only one transistor per bit. In this memory, the transistor acts as a switch instead of a capacitor carrying the charge. One state of a transistor acts as a 1 while the other state acts as a 0. Due to the many transistors, the size of SRAM is also large if we compare it with the same size of DRAM. This is also a reason why an equivalent amount of SRAM costs more than DRAM.

SRAM is not used as primary memory in computers. Instead, it is used for other purposes, such as a buffer cache in a disk drive, or as a RAM digital-to-analog converter (RAMDAC) on a computer's video or graphics card. It is also used for the operation of LCD displays, peripheral devices, or network devices.

How does RAM work?

As the name suggests, any storage location (memory address) of RAM can be accessed directly or randomly without following any specific sequence. The term was primarily used to distinguish regular core memory from offline memory such as magnetic tape, which allows data to be accessed only by navigating through a specific sequence. Although there are some other memory types that allow direct or random access to memory addresses, the term 'random access' is not used to represent them.

RAM operates by storing data in a set of boxes called an array. However, every single box is called a cell. Such a box can store 0 or 1, and each box has its own unique memory address. Each box is assigned a specific cell path. Each cell consists of rows and columns, and the memory address of each box is identified by counting the numbers in the column and the rows below.

The processor (CPU) of the system is responsible for managing the operation of RAM. To access a particular cell, the RAM controller sends the column and row address down a narrow electrical line present in the chip. Each row and column array also has a unique address row. However, when data is read, a new or different data line is used to send back the result. In this way, the cells in RAM help the CPU to access different types of data.

Upgrading RAM

When one is considering upgrading RAM, he/she must first ensure that his/her system (PC or laptop) supports expansion and has the additional slot or capacity to expand. For Windows, it is always recommended to go through 'Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc)' and check the 'Memory' tab under the ‘Performance’ section. It usually displays the availability of slots, the frequency, the capacity of the current RAM, and some other properties.

So, if there is an empty or spare slot for memory (RAM) expansion, one needs to go for the same capacity (or system-allowed capacity) and frequency and there will be more likely to work appropriately.

Although it is easy to install or upgrade the RAM memory on the system, it is recommended to do it through a technician person at an authorized store. Some well-known and widely used manufacturers of RAM include Corsair, Crucial, Kingston, and Adata.

Note: It is not yet possible to upgrade RAM in smartphones. However, some phones now support allowing virtual RAM memory to be used from an existing portion of storage.

Characteristics of RAM

Some essential features or characteristics of RAM are discussed below:

RAM differs from HDD/SSD in that it is volatile while HDD/SSD is non-volatile memory, which means data remains stored in HDD/SSD even after disconnecting power.

RAM is so fast and this can be understood from the fact that its access time is in nanoseconds, whereas for other storage memory like HDD or SSD, the access time is in milliseconds.

RAM is comparatively much smaller than hard disk drives in terms of physical size as well as storage capacity limit.

RAM only stores working data that is being used or executed by the CPU of the computer.

The speed of the device also depends on the free amount of RAM available and the overall speed frequency (MHz) of the RAM.

Advantages of RAM

Some essential advantages of the RAM are listed below:

RAM has no mechanical parts, so it works silently.

RAM consumes less power than mechanical storage devices, which helps reduce carbon emissions and extend battery lifespan.

RAM is one of the fastest types of computer memory.

Disadvantages of RAM

Some essential disadvantages of the RAM are listed below:

RAM is an expensive memory and large-capacity RAM will cost a lot.

RAM is volatile memory so we cannot store permanent data in it for future use.

Devices or machines with low RAM often face performance issues and reboots frequently. Despite this, electronic devices cannot operate without RAM.


RAM (stands for 'Random Access Memory') is an essential component used in many electronic machines. However, it is mainly known for its use in computers, laptops, and smartphones. By storing temporary data, it helps to speed up computer processing. It would not be wrong to say that RAM is one of the fastest memory types used in computers.

Weekly Hits

Latest Tutorial

© 2024 TutorialsMate. Designed by TutorialsMate