Computer memory refers to the physical devices which are used to store data or programs for use in a computer. Primary storage allows for the short-term storage of data: information is retained for immediate use and is directly accessible by the CPU, usually until the main device is reset or turned off. Secondary storage, either in the form of hard disk drives (HDDs), solid-state drives (SSDs), flash drives, or other longer-term storage devices, record and hold data indefinitely, even when the main device is unpowered.
The primary memory of a computer is called RAM, with the two most used forms of modern RAM being static RAM (SRAM) and dynamic RAM (DRAM). DRAM is a type of volatile memory which, unlike non-volatile flash memory, loses data quickly when cut off from a power supply. Compared to other varieties of volatile memory, DRAM is relatively structurally simple. Whereas SRAM requires four to six transistors per bit, DRAM requires only one transistor and capacitor per bit. The global DRAM market generated close to 20 billion U.S. dollars in the first quarter of 2021, with Samsung being the largest manufacturer of DRAM in terms of revenues.
HDDs and SSDs are both a form of non-volatile memory commonly used for secondary storage in PCs and are thus an important computer component. HDDs are considered to be old-school storage devices, made up of magnetic tape and with mechanical parts inside. A traditional hard drive contains a circular disc, known as a platter, that stores your data. The disc spins, allowing data to be read or written – the faster the platter spins, the faster the hard drive works. This can have an impact on the speed of the operating system, as well as the time it takes applications installed on the drive to load and open. An SSD is a newer storage technology that has no moving parts. Instead, it uses NAND flash memory, a type of non-volatile storage that does not require power to retain data. Lower-priced laptops often still come with the cheaper HDD option, but most mid-range to high-end PCs come with an SSD instead.
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In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 29 most important statistics relating to "Computer memory and data storage".