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Memory Basics


There are two main types of semiconductor memory: volatile and non-volatile. Examples of non-volatile memory are flash memory (sometimes used as secondary, sometimes primary computer memory) and ROM/PROM/EPROM/EEPROM memory (used for firmware such as boot programs). Examples of volatile memory are primary memory (typically dynamic RAM, DRAM), and fast CPU cache memory (typically static RAM, SRAM, which is fast but energy-consuming and offer lower memory capacity per area unit than DRAM) .

The semiconductor memory is organized into memory cells or bistable flip-flops, each storing one binary bit (0 or 1). The memory cells are grouped into words of fix word length, for example 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 or 128 bit. Each word can be accessed by a binary address of N bit, making it possible to store 2 raised by N words in the memory. This implies that processor registers normally are not considered as memory, since they only store one word and do not include an addressing mechanism.