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Different RAM Types and Its Uses

Different RAM Types and Its Uses



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Published by danielle leigh
Different RAM Types and its uses
The type of RAM doesn't matter nearly as much as how much of it you've got, but using plain old SDRAM memory today will slow you down. There are three main types of RAM: SDRAM, DDR and Rambus DRAM.
Different RAM Types and its uses
The type of RAM doesn't matter nearly as much as how much of it you've got, but using plain old SDRAM memory today will slow you down. There are three main types of RAM: SDRAM, DDR and Rambus DRAM.

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Published by: danielle leigh on Feb 04, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Different RAM Types and its usesIntro
The type of RAM doesn't matter nearly as much as how much of it you've got, but using plainold SDRAM memory today will slow you down. There are three main types of RAM: SDRAM,DDR and Rambus DRAM.
SDRAM (Synchronous DRAM)
Almost all systems used to ship with 3.3 volt, 168-pin SDRAM DIMMs. SDRAM is not anextension of older EDO DRAM but a new type of DRAM altogether. SDRAM started out runningat 66 MHz, while older fast page mode DRAM and EDO max out at 50 MHz. SDRAM is able toscale to 133 MHz (PC133) officially, and unofficially up to 180MHz or higher. As processors getfaster, new generations of memory such as DDR and RDRAM are required to get proper performance.
DDR (Double Data Rate SDRAM)
DDR basically doubles the rate of data transfer of standard SDRAM by transferring data on theup and down tick of a clock cycle. DDR memory operating at 333MHz actually operates at166MHz * 2 (aka PC333 / PC2700) or 133MHz*2 (PC266 / PC2100). DDR is a 2.5 volttechnology that uses 184 pins in its DIMMs. It is incompatible with SDRAM physically, but usesa similar parallel bus, making it easier to implement than RDRAM, which is a differenttechnology.
Despite it's higher price, Intel has given RDRAM it's blessing for the consumer market, and it willbe the sole choice of memory for Intel's Pentium 4. RDRAM is a serial memory technology thatarrived in three flavors, PC600, PC700, and PC800. PC800 RDRAM has double the maximumthroughput of old PC100 SDRAM, but a higher latency. RDRAM designs with multiple channels,such as those in Pentium 4 motherboards, are currently at the top of the heap in memorythroughput, especially when paired with PC1066 RDRAM memory.
DRAM comes in two major form factors: DIMMs and RIMMS.DIMMs are 64-bit components, but if used in a motherboard with a dual-channel configuration(like with an Nvidia nForce chipset) you must pair them to get maximum performance. So far there aren't many DDR chipset that use dual-channels. Typically, if you want to add 512 MB of DIMM memory to your machine, you just pop in a 512 MB DIMM if you've got an available slot.DIMMs for SDRAM and DDR are different, and not physically compatible. SDRAM DIMMs have168-pins and run at 3.3 volts, while DDR DIMMs have 184-pins and run at 2.5 volts.RIMMs use only a 16-bit interface but run at higher speeds than DDR. To get maximumperformance, Intel RDRAM chipsets require the use of RIMMs in pairs over a dual-channel 32-bit interface. You have to plan more when upgrading and purchasing RDRAM.
From the top: SIMM, DIMM and SODIMM memorymodulesMemory Speed
SDRAM initially shipped at a speed of 66MHz. As memory buses got faster, it was pumped upto 100MHz, and then 133MHz. The speed grades are referred to as PC66 (unofficially), PC100and PC133 SDRAM respectively. Some manufacturers are shipping a PC150 speed grade.However, this is an unofficial speed rating, and of little use unless you plan to overclock your system.DDR comes in PC1600, PC2100, PC2700 and PC3200 DIMMs. A PC1600 DIMM is made up of PC200 DDR chips, while a PC2100 DIMM is made up of PC266 chips. PC2700 uses PC333DDR chips and PC3200 uses PC400 chips that haven't gained widespread support. Go for PC2700 DDR. It is about the cost of PC2100 memory and will give you better performance.RDRAM comes in PC600, PC700, PC800 and PC1066 speeds. Go for PC1066 RDRAM if youcan find it. If you can't, PC800 RDRAM is widely available.
CAS Latency
SDRAM comes with latency ratings or "CAS (Column Address Strobe) latency" ratings.Standard PC100 / PC133 SDRAM comes in CAS 2 or CAS 3 speed ratings. The lower latencyof CAS 2 memory will give you more performance. It also costs a bit more, but it's worth it.DDR memory comes in CAS 2 and CAS 2.5 ratings, with CAS 2 costing more and performingbetter.RDRAM has no CAS latency ratings, but may eventually come in 32 and 4 bank forms with 32-bank RDRAM costing more and performing better. For now, it's all 32-bank RDRAM.
Understanding Cache
Cache Memory is fast memory that serves as a buffer between the processor and mainmemory. The cache holds data that was recently used by the processor and saves a trip all the
way back to slower main memory. The memory structure of PCs is often thought of as just mainmemory, but it's really a five or six level structure:The first two levels of memory are contained in the processor itself, consisting of the processor'ssmall internal memory, or 
, and
L1 cache
, which is the first level of cache, usuallycontained in the processor.The third level of memory is the
L2 cache
, usually contained on the motherboard. However, theCeleron chip from Intel actually contains 128K of L2 cache within the form factor of the chip.More and more chip makers are planning to put this cache on board the processor itself. Thebenefit is that it will then run at the same speed as the processor, and cost less to put on thechip than to set up a bus and logic externally from the processor.The fourth level, is being referred to as
L3 cache
. This cache used to be the L2 cache on themotherboard, but now that some processors include L1 and L2 cache on the chip, it becomesL3 cache. Usually, it runs slower than the processor, but faster than main memory.The fifth level (or fourth if you have no "L3 cache") of memory is the
main memory
itself.The sixth level is a piece of the hard disk used by the Operating System, usually called
. Most operating systems use this when they run out of main memory, but some use itin other ways as well.This six-tiered structure is designed to efficiently speed data to the processor when it needs it,and also to allow the operating system to function when levels of main memory are low. Youmight ask, "Why is all this necessary?" The answer is cost. If there were one type of super-fast,super-cheap memory, it could theoretically satisfy the needs of this entire memory architecture.This will probably never happen since you don't need very much cache memory to drasticallyimprove performance, and there will always be a faster, more expensive alternative to thecurrent form of main memory.
Memory Redundancy
One important aspect to consider in memory is what level of redundancy you want. There are afew different levels of redundancy available in memory. Depending on your motherboard, it maysupport all or some of these types of memory:The cheapest and most prevalent level of redundancy is
non-parity memory
. When you havenon-parity memory in your machine and it encounters a memory error, the operating system willhave no way of knowing and will most likely crash, but could corrupt data as well with no way of telling the OS. This is the most common type of memory, and unless specified, that's whatyou're getting. It works fine for most applications, but I wouldn't run life support systems on it.The second level of redundancy is
parity memory
(also called true parity). Parity memory hasextra chips that act as parity chips. Thus, the chip will be able to detect when a memory error has occurred and signal the operating system. You'll probably still crash, but at least you'll knowwhy.The third level of redundancy is
(Error Checking and Correcting). This requires even morelogic and is usually more expensive. Not only does it detect memory errors, but it also corrects

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