Fundamentals of volatile memory technologies

BY BRIAN DIPERTPrincipal Sierra Media

RAM, i.e., "random access memory," is a commonly interchanged term for "volatile memory," i.e., memory that loses its stored data when power is removed. Yet RAM is not an acronym with which I'm particularly fond. Several decades ago when first coined, it admittedly was reasonably accurate, in contrast to ROM (read-only memory). ROMs, specifically mask ROMs (programmed at the fab) and PROMs and EPROMS (programmed in dedicated lab bench hardware, or on an assembly line), were random-location readable but not random-location writeable, at least in-system. RAMs, on the other hand, could be randomly read and written, thereby leading to the more general "random access" qualifier.

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