Understanding of Memory and Functions, Characteristics, Types and Ways of Working Memory

You certainly are familiar with this one component. Memory is one important component in a computer.

Well, in this article, I will explain the understanding, functions, characteristics, and workings of internal memory. As with other devices (besides computers), memory is used to store data / information temporarily.

Some of us may already have basic knowledge about what memory is and its function. But, do we already know the meaning and function of memory in detail and what are the characteristics, and how does internal memory work? For more information on understanding internal memory, let’s see the explanation below.

table of contents

  • Definition of Memory
    • RAM (Random-Access Memory)
    • ROM (Read-Only-Memory)
    • SRAM (Static Random-Access Memory)
    • DRAM (Dynamic Random-Access Memory)
    • SDRAM (Sychronous Dynamic Random-Access Memory)
    • CMOS (Compmentary Meta-Oxyde Semiconductor)
    • DIMM (Dual in-line memory module)
    • Cache Memory
  • Memory function
  • Characteristics of Memory
    • Memory Location
    • Memory Capacity
    • Transfer Unit 
    • Memory Access Method
    • Memory Performance
    • Physical Types of Memory
    • Physical Characteristics of Memory
    • Organization
  • How it Works Memory

Definition of Memory

Memory or what is referred to as physical memory or internal memory is the media that stores data or information temporarily on the computer. Memory is an important component in a computer that is inside the CPU  (Central Processing Unit). This memory will store every program and data that is processed by the processor.

The data or information stored in memory is temporary because the data will only be stored while the computer is on or alive. So, when the computer is turned off, the data stored in memory will be lost. Therefore, before you turn off the computer, save all your data on permanent storage media (fixed) on disk-based storage media such as hard disks and floopy disks .

Here below are some types of physical or internal memory.

  1. RAM (Random-Access Memory)

RAM is used to store data temporarily which can be accessed immediately by the processor when needed. Because it is temporary, when the computer is turned off, the data will also be erased. Data storage is done randomly and data access by the processor is also done randomly.

  1. ROM (Read-Only-Memory)

ROM is a permanent storage medium and does not allow the data in it to be modified. This means that data on ROM can only be accessed and read by users without being able to be modified. Computer vendors will provide ROMs on computers that contain programs or data. On a computer, ROM is generally referred to as BIOS (Basic Input / Output System) or ROM-BIOS.

  1. SRAM  (Static Random-Access Memory)

SRAM is a type of RAM that stores data in it while the computer is still on. Unlike the DRAM that needs to be refreshed periodically. This ability is because SRAM is designed using a transistor without a capacitor. Certainly, SRAM is more expensive and faster than DRAM.

  1. DRAM (Dynamic Random-Access Memory)

DRAM is a type of RAM that is widely used in computers as main memory that must be refreshed by the CPU periodically so that the data inside is not lost. This DRAM is slower than SRAM  (Static Random-Access Memory).

  1. SDRAM (Sychronous Dynamic Random-Access Memory)

SDRAM is a type of DRAM (dynamic computer memory) that includes computer memory in the solid-state category  that  has been synchronized by a clock system where the speed is higher than DRAM.

  1. CMOS (Compmentary Meta-Oxyde Semiconductor)

CMOS is a chip from an integrated circuit that is used in microprocessors, static RAM, micro controllers, and other digital logic circuits. CMOS itself is part of ROM.

Not only in digital circuits, CMOS is also used in analog circuits such as data converters, image sensors, and integrated transceivers. This chip uses a battery as its power source. Well, in this CMOS, various basic computer settings are made and stored such as loading the operating system and setting the date and time of the system.

  1. DIMM (Dual in-line memory module)

DIMMs consist of a series of DRAM integrated circuits. These modules are installed on a circuit board and are designed for use on personal computers, servers and workstations . Consists of 2 speeds namely 00MHz (PC100) and 133MHz (PC133). 168 PIN DIMM.

  1. Cache Memory

Cache memory is a small, temporary, high-speed memory that is used to store data or instructions that are frequently accessed. Cache memory bridges the flow of data between the processor with main memory or RAM which is usually low speed.

The price of this memory is also more expensive than the main memory. Cache memory is  useful so that the processor refers to cache memory which access speeds are higher so that system performance increases.

Memory function

Internal memory serves as a reminder as a data storage media or programs that are temporary. In other words, if the computer dies then the data will be lost. In use, internal memory is accessed directly by the processor. The main function of internal memory is

  • Store data from input devices until the data is sent to the ALU ( Arithmetic and Logic Unit)for further processing.
  • Save the power of the results of the ALU ( Arithmetic and Logic Unit)  before being sent to the output device.
  • Holds instructions or programs from an input device or from a secondary reminder device.

Characteristics of Memory

Here below are some characteristics of internal memory.

  1. Memory Location

Internal memory, often referred to as physical memory, primary or primary, is located inside the CPU and is internal to the computer system. Well, internal memory itself usually uses RAM media.

  1. Memory Capacity

Usually, internal memory capacity is expressed in  bytes  (1 byte = 8 bits) or  word . Word length  is generally 8, 16, and 32 bits.

  1. Transfer Unit 

What is a transfer unit? The transfer unit is the same as the number of data channels entering and leaving the memory module. Now, for internal memory (main memory), the transfer unit is the number of bits that are read or written into memory at a time.

Let’s see the explanation below.


Word is usually the same as the number of bits used to represent numbers and length of instructions except VAX and CRAY-1.

  • CRAY-1 has a 64-bit wordlength using a 24-bit integer representation.
  • VAX has various instruction lengths with 32-bit wordsizes .

Addressable Units

On some systems, the addressable unit is the  same as word . Meanwhile, the relationship between the length of an address (A) and the number of addressable units (N) is 2  = N.

  1. Memory Access Method

Following below are four memory access methods.

Sequential Access

  • Memory is organized into data units called  records.
  • Access to memory is made in the form of a specific or clear linear sequence.
  • To separate existing records and assist the search process addressing information is used.
  • The read or write mechanism (shared read / write mechanism) isused together to go to the desired location to issue a record .
  • Very diverse time of access record.
  • An example of sequential accessis access to magnetic tape.

Direct Access

  • Direct access also uses a shared read / write mechanism, but each record  and block has a unique address based on its physical location.
  • Accessing the memory is done directly to the general range (general vicinity)to reach the final location.
  • The variety of access times.
  • An example of direct accessis disk access.

Random Access

  • Each location can be chosen randomly and accessed and given an address directly.
  • Access time at a particular location is constant and does not depend on the previous access sequence.
  • An example of random accessis the main memory system.

Associative Access

  • Each wordcan be found based on its contents and not the address.
  • Each location has its own addressing mechanism.
  • Search time does not depend constantly on previous access patterns or locations.
  • An example of associative accessis cache memory .
  1. Memory Performance

Here below are three parameters for measuring the performance of a memory system.

Access Time  Access Time )

For internal memory or RAM, access time is the time needed to perform read or write operations .

Cycle Time  Cycle Time )

Cycle time is the sum of access time and transient time until the signal disappears from the signal channel or to reproduce data if this data is read destructively.

The transfer rate of  Transfer Rate )

Transfer rate is the speed at which data is transferred to the memory unit or data transferred from the memory unit. In internal memory or RAM, the transfer rate is equal to 1 / cycle time.

  1. Physical Types of Memory

The physical type of internal memory or RAM is semiconductor memory. This type of memory uses LSI or VLSI (very large scale integration) technology .

  1. Physical Characteristics of Memory

Internal memory or RAM, including Volatile  memory, which means temporary. Why is it temporary? Because data will be lost if the computer turns off or does not have electricity. So, this internal memory is only used to store programs or data that are being used by the CPU alone.

  1. Organization

Organization is the arrangement of bits in the physical arrangement of words . Memory speed and capacity are distinguished by memory hierarchy. This hierarchy is arranged from the fastest to the slowest type of memory, arranged from the smallest to the largest capacity, and is arranged from the price of each bit of memory from the most expensive to the cheapest.

How it Works Memory

Memory is shaped like a cell consisting of a small piece of information. Information in memory can be in the form of data or instructions to the computer to do something. Data in memory can be a command for certain circumstances. Information is stored in memory as binary numbers. Now, information that is not yet in binary form will be encoded by instructions that will break it into numerical sequences.

More complex information-solving instructions can be used to store sounds, images, videos and various other information. Well, the information stored in one cell is called a byte . Memory can be written and deleted repeatedly according to its use.

Each address from a memory location is written in hexadecimal numbers (base 16). Then, the CPU will track that location then read and write data. Meanwhile, transistors and capacitors in a memory chip, arranged in the form of rows and columns. The most common computer internal memory is RAM (Random Access Memory)  which is able to store data temporarily optimally because it can retrieve and store data faster.

Temporary storage of data on internal memory requires electricity to mean that the computer must be turned on. When the computer dies, the data disappears. What happens when the computer is turned on? Now, when the computer is turned on, the BIOS (Basic Input Output System) loads from ROM (Read – Only Memory), and the memory controller, checking all memory addresses to make sure there are no errors in them.

In this process, the BIOS will provide basic information about the storage device, boot arrangement, and other components. Then, the operating system will be loaded from the hard drive to the RAM system, allowing the CPU to have direct access to the operating system. So, every application that is run on a computer will be loaded into RAM. With the computer’s memory, the data transfer process can be faster.

The computer’s internal memory works by involving interrelated processes between RAM and ROM with the CPU ( Central Processing Unit)  as the mediator. Some people add extra RAM to their computers so their computers can work better and faster so they can support their work.

Well, hopefully the discussion about the understanding of internal memory, functions, characteristics, and workings of internal memory that has been explained above is useful and good luck. Thank you!


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