General Guide on RAM

RAM - Random Access Memory Guide

Random Access Memory/RAM is an important part of your computer. This is a guide is meant to help explain what it is, what it does, how it affects things on your computer, and getting the right RAM.

Table of Contents

The beginnings of DRAM

While various others forms of RAM have existed for much of computing history, capacitive DRAM based on field effect transistors similar to what we know today was first invented in 1966 by Dr. Robert Dennard at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center.

Dennard, at the time a fellow at the IBM research center was working on field effect transistors and integrated circuits. After observing colleagues working on thin film memory technology using the then standard six-transistor memory cell for each bit of data, he struck upon the idea of creating a simpler memory cell. [The DRAM memory of Robert Dennard]

He devised a way of using a single capacitor. The problem with capacitors though is that they loose their charge over time, it ‘leaks’ away. Thus it was combined with a single field effect transistor that is repeatedly ‘dynamically’ refreshing the charge of the capacitor to it’s correct voltage depending on if the capacitor is storing a 1 (charged) or a 0 (discharged/less charged).

IBM and Dennard were granted U.S. patent #3387286 for DRAM in 1968. [Who invented the Intel 1103 Chip]

As this later patent shows the new Capacitive Filed Effect transistor DRAM was a revolutionary improvement over the prior 6 transistor design, being cited in no fewer than 168 other patents of new RAM technologies.

Among those companies was Intel, at the time Intel was less concerned with acquiring patents but rather canvasing the entire industry looking for talent and knowledge desperately trying to get new products to market.

Based on the new DRAM technology Intel designed and created what become the first commercially available RAM chip, the Intel i1103 in 1970. They had started work on it in 1969 Initially creating the 512bit i1102 then later innovating their design to create the revolutionary 1024bit i1103. By 1972 it became the best selling type of computer memory, beating the previously prevalent magnetic core memory.

The first computer to ship with the intel i1103 RAM was the HP 9800 series in 1971.
You can read more about the invention of the Intel 1103 Here.

What it is and What it Does

RAM allows for you to multitask. RAM does not speed up single task. RAM stores memory the CPU needs to retrieve quickly. The speed of the RAM is how quickly the RAM stores and retrieves this memory. RAM timing is the Latency of the RAM. The Lower the number for RAM timings the lower the latency.

How it affects APUs

An APU is an Accelerated Processing Unit. Recently AMD released Ryzen APUs. APU have discrete graphic cores. RAM is very important to get right with the APU. In the Case of APUs you want a higher speed if it is all you'll be gaming on for awhile. A higher speed will get you a higher frame rate in games on APUs. However if your going to game on a GPU, there is no need to get a higher speed of ram.

RAM and Video Editing

RAM does not affect the Rendering Speed for video editing. Those are bound to your CPU and GPU. The More RAM you have though does affect how you’ll be able to work. If you want work with just 1080 p then 16 GIGs is enough. 4k just 32 GB is all that is needed.

RAM and Video Games

Video Games do need RAM and as the years have gone the days of getting by with 4GB are long gone. The minimum now is 8GB but I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it goes to 16 GB. Why would you need so much?

I personally have 32 cause I do video editing. However I’m also a ReShade Expert and user. For those you that doesn’t know ReShade is a Shading tool for Games. That’s the simple version. Anyway it runs with in the game so by me having more RAM allows my work with ReShade to go a lot easier.

Consider the fact: When your gaming on PC, your typical launching the game by Steam or Origin or GOG. These Launchers are running in the background and have overlays. These use RAM.

Getting the Right RAM for your motherboard or laptop

Before you buy RAM, you need to check to see if it is compatible with your motherboard or laptop. Just cause your Motherboard takes DDR4 RAM does not mean it will work with all DDR4 RAM.

Crucial, G-Skill, and Corsair have tools to search for RAM by Motherboard. Doing this will allow to find ram that works for your motherboard.

Crucial Advisor Memory Tool

G-Skill RAM Configurator

Corsair Memory Finder

More resources on RAM

How it works in depth, from MEMORY “1997”, by the Smithsonian Institute.

@catsay Wrote an excellent guide About RAM, CAS & Refresh Rate that you should check out

There is an older guide on GURU3D forums you can also read. It is from 2004 but the information in it is still relevant in ways.

Hardware Canucks Video: 16 GB vs 32 GB vs 64 GB RAM is a good video showing how ram affects gaming and video rendering.

Wiki Talk Page for General Guide on RAM

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