What You Need To Know About ROM and RAM

What You Need To Know About ROM and RAM


There is much talk today on ROM and RAM. This is partly due to the ever-increasing production of smartphones, PCs, and other computers and their proliferation in our society. The size of these memory devices is a very important feature of any computer, yet very few people understand what it means. I clearly recall an incident where a friend of mine wanted to launch an app on his j2me (java) phone. When he opened it, his phone quipped, ‘Not enough Memory’. Confused, he said, ‘ but I have enough space on my SD card now’.

The Concept of RAM and ROM

For the record, RAM means Random-access Memory, also known as ‘memory’ in android devices. The RAM is usually volatile ( doesn’t retain information after power loss), expensive ( hence not as large as the ROM ) but much faster.

While ROM means Read-Only Memory, also known as Mass Storage in android devices. The ROM is much cheaper, not volatile but slower.

To help us understand these concepts, let us use an analogy: Let’s say you are a student sitting an OBJ math exam. You (the student) are representing an application (maybe Chrome). The examiner stands for the User; the question paper stands for the ROM. The questions are the instructions the application has to process. Now to have a successful math exam, You will definitely need a rough sheet. The rough sheet is the RAM. You will notice that the contents of the rough sheet are relevant only during the exam(ie. the app running).

Hence the RAM is temporary storage that apps need to carry out their calculations upon instructions on the user. Every app needs its RAM space to function properly. That is why low-memory ( RAM ) devices always seem to have performance issues because, when more apps are launched that the RAM space can cater to, the Android OS would have to kill some apps( usually those running in the background) to make room for the more active apps (foreground apps); this slows down the processor making your phone slow and laggy. Unlike popular claims, there is no app that can increase the RAM of your device. The only way to increase it is to physically install bigger or more RAM modules as is done in PCs, but for smartphones, it is impossible to increase the RAM.

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