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Memory Types

Memory Types

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Published by: api-3836139 on Oct 18, 2008
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Memory Types
There are several different technologies when it comes to memory.

This is read-only memory, memory that can only be read, but cannot be written to. ROM is used in
situations where the data must be held permanently. This is due to the fact that it is non-volatile
memory. This means the data is "hard-wired" into the ROM chip. You can store the chip forever and
the data will always be there. Besides, the data is very secure. The BIOS is stored on ROM because
the user cannot disrupt the information.

There are different types of ROM, too:
Programmable ROM(PROM). This is basically a blank ROM chip that can be written to,
but only once. It is much like a CD-R drive that burns the data into the CD. Some companies
use special machinery to write PROMs for special purposes.
Erasable Programmable ROM (EPROM) . This is just like PROM, except that you can
erase the ROM by shining a special ultra-violet light into a sensor atop the ROM chip for a
certain amount of time. Doing this wipes the data out, allowing it to be rewritten.
Electrically Erasable Programmable ROM (EEPROM) . Also calledflash BIOS. This
ROM can be rewritten through the use of a special software program. Flash BIOS operates this
way, allowing users to upgrade their BIOS.
ROM is slower thanRAM, which is why some try to shadow it to increase speed.

Random Access Memory (RAM) is what most of us think of when we hear the word memory
associated withcomputers. It is volatile memory, meaning all data is lost when power is turned off.
The RAM is used for temporary storage of program data, allowing performance to be optimum.

Like ROM, there are different types of RAM:
Static RAM (SRAM) . This RAM will maintain it's data as long as power is provided to the

memory chips. It does not need to be re-written periodically. In fact, the only time the data
on the memory is refreshed or changed is when an actual write command is executed.
SRAM is very fast, but is much more expensive than DRAM. SRAM is often used as cache
memory due to its speed.

There are a few types of SRAM:
Async SRAM. An older type of SRAM used in many PC's for L2 cache. It is
asynchronous, meaning that it works independently of the system clock. This
means that theCPU found itself waiting for info from the L2 cache.
Sync SRAM. This type of SRAM is synchronous, meaning it is synchronized
with the system clock. While this speeds it up, it makes it rather expensive at the
same time.
Pipeline Burst SRAM. Commonly used. SRAM requests arepipe lined,
meaning larger packets of data re sent to the memory at once, and acted on very
quickly. This breed of SRAM can operate atbus speeds higher than 66MHz, so
is often used.
Dynamic RAM (DRAM) . DRAM, unlike SRAM, must be continually re-written in order

for it to maintain its data. This is done by placing the memory on a refresh circuit that re- writes the data several hundred time per second. DRAM is used for most system memory because it is cheap and small.

There are several types of DRAM, complicating the memory scene even more:
Fast Page Mode DRAM (FPM DRAM). FPM DRAM is only slightly faster

than regular DRAM. Before there was EDO RAM, FPM RAM was the main
type used in PC's. It is pretty slow stuff, with an access time of 120 ns. It was
eventually tweaked to 60 ns, but FPM was still too slow to work on the 66MHz
system bus. For this reason, FPM RAM was replaced by EDO RAM. FPM RAM
is not much used today due to its slow speed, but is almost universally

Extended Data Out DRAM (EDO DRAM). EDO memory incorporates yet

another tweak in the method of access. It allows one access to begin while
another is being completed. While this might sound ingenious, the performance
increase over FPM DRAM is only around 30%. EDO DRAM must be properly
supported by the chipset. EDO RAM comes on a SIMM. EDO RAM cannot
operate on a bus speed faster than 66MHz, so, with the increasing use of higher
bus speeds, EDO RAM has taken the path of FPM RAM.

Burst EDO DRAM (BEDO DRAM). Original EDO RAM was too slow for the

newer systems coming out at the time. Therefore, a new method of memory
access had to be developed to speed up the memory. Bursting was the method
devised. This means that larger blocks of data were sent to the memory at a time,
and each "block" of data not only carried the memory address of the immediate
page, but info on the next several pages. Therefore, the next few accesses would
not experience any delays due to the preceding memory requests. This
technology increases EDO RAM speed up to around 10 ns, but it did not give it
the ability to operate stably at bus speeds over 66MHz. BEDO RAM was an
effort to make EDO RAM compete with SDRAM.

Synchronous DRAM (SDRAM). SDRAM became the new standard after EDO

bit the dust. Its speed is synchronous, meaning that it is directly dependent on the clock speed of the entire system. Standard SDRAM can handle higher bus speeds. In theory, it could operate at up to 100MHz, although it was found that many other variable factors went into whether or not it could stabily do so. The actual speed capacity of the module depended on the actual memory chips as well as design factors in the memory PCB itself.

Do get around the variability, Intel created the PC100 standard. The PC100
standard ensures compatibility of SDRAM subsystems with Intel's 100MHz FSB
processors. The new design, production, and test requirements created
challenges for semiconductor companies and memory module suppliers. Each
PC100 SDRAM module required key attributes to guarantee full compliance,
such as the use of 8ns DRAM components (chips) that are capable of operating
at 125MHz. This provided a margin of safety in ensuring that that the memory
module could run at PC100 speeds. Additionally, SDRAM chips must be used in
conjunction with a correctly programmed EEPROM on a properly designed

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