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What is RAM?

RAM is an acronym for random-access memory. If you've ever looked into the specs of a PC, laptop, smartphone, or tablet, you might have come across this term, but do you know what RAM means, or have you only heard that the more memory a product has, the better? While the latter may be true, it's important to understand why we place so much value on RAM when choosing electronic devices.

What random-access memory does is saving information that is currently in use, so data reading and writing processes can happen quickly, no matter where the data is stored within the system. We can think of RAM as quick-access, temporary virtual storage for faster data access and processing. This means that whichever information is retrieved from the storage unit by the random-access memory will be erased from the RAM at some point (usually when the device is switched off, although the most used data may be retained for longer in a memory cache).

Usually measured in gigabytes (GB) for consumer products, the random-access memory is typically located on the motherboard or connected to it. There are two main types of RAM:

Dynamic random-access memory (DRAM)

Static random-access memory (SRAM).

Dynamic RAM needs to refresh by rewriting data every few milliseconds, whereas static RAM doesn't require refreshing, being a faster (but more expensive) kind of random-access memory.

The amount of RAM available in a system is not the same as the system's storage space, as the permanent storage takes place in a hard drive, network, or cloud storage. Still, a substantial amount of RAM is critical to support demanding processes – influencing, for instance, smooth gameplay. If you're keen on gaming or image, audio, and video editing, make sure to pay attention to the minimum RAM requirement indicated by the software's manufacturer. Other features, such as total clock speed, GPU clock speed, and sufficient internal storage, may also be listed among these conditions, as they all play a role in a device's speed and overall performance.

Although the average amount of RAM for smartphones is of 4GB (considering older and newer devices), a few phones such as the ZTE Nubia Red Magic 6 Pro and the Asus ROG Phone 5s flaunt no less than 18GB of RAM.

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