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How Computer Memory is measured

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How Computer Memory is measured

How Computer Memory is measured is a commonly asked question among PC enthusiasts from across the globe. In the year 2021, we are all quite familiar with computers. But, if you have the experience of operating many computers, you must have noticed that not all computers perform similarly. The reason behind that is almost all the computers are built differently. They have certain parts that differentiate how they perform. Memory is one of those sectors of a computer that can dictate its performance.   

Well, almost all of us know how much memory our computer has, right? We are not talking about the actual memory of our computer. Everyone knows the exact specification of their computer as they determine what type of computer they want before buying it. People know that their computer has a certain amount of memory, and they are usually defined as a number. Now, suppose your computer has 16 gigabytes of memory and one terabyte of storage. So, by this, you know what to expect from your computer. But, what these numbers mean exactly, and how do you measure how much memory a computer has? 

If you seek answers to such questions, you are in the right palace. In this article, we are going to explain everything about computer memory and how you can measure them. So, without further ado, let us dive right in.

All you need to know about computer memory

Two factors decide how memory will perform. These two factors are its capacity and its interval. Capacity determines how much data it can store, and interval determines how fast a memory performs while operating. There are two types of memory in a computer.

  • Primary memory
  • Secondary memory

Continue reading to know more about these two types of memory.

Primary memory 

The memory that can directly communicate with the processor of your computer and help in the total operation of your computer is the primary memory. This type of memory can store pieces of information that the computer initially needs to operate. But the information is not kept there permanently. Once you turn off or restart your computer, those memories are completely whipped out. The sole purpose of primary memory is to ensure the smooth operation of your computer. There are two types of primary memory. 

  • RAM(Random access memory)
  • ROM(Read-only memory)

RAM (Random access memory)  

RAM is by far the fastest performing memory inside your computer. It holds information about all the running applications on your computer. So, once you open an application, that information is stored inside of your RAM. But RAM stores its information as long as it needs and wipes out everything once you shut down your computer.

ROM (Read-only memory)

ROM or read-only memory can also directly communicate with your processor. But the difference between RAM and ROM is that ROM does not lose its information once you remove power. ROM can store data, but just like its name suggests, it can only allow you to read its data without any write capabilities. What it means is, you can write the data on your ROM device once and cannot change it afterward. People also call this memory firmware. 

Secondary memory

The secondary memory of a computer cannot directly communicate with the processor of a computer. Instead, it uses primary memory as a means of communication. 

Secondary memory usually has a large capacity and can hold information for a long time. The information of secondary memory is not removed after power removal. Usually, they hold their information without making any type of change to it unless they are damaged. This type of quality makes secondary memory the perfect vessel to store information or work as a storage device. There are a lot of devices that work as secondary memory, but the most common ones are mechanical drives and solid-state drives.  

Mechanical drives

Mechanical drives or hard drives are becoming less and less popular as the days go by because of the rise of solid-state drives. Though most users do not fancy using mechanical drives anymore, mechanical drives still have the most amount of storage space. 

Hard drives are connected to the disk controller of a motherboard via a cable. They are made out of an air tide structure. The inside of a mechanical drive includes some platters and a magnetic head that moves when writing data to the platters of the hard drive. 

Solid-state drives

Apart from being a lot faster than a mechanical drive, solid-state drives are a lot more durable than them too. These enticing qualities of the solid-state drives, or more commonly known as SSDs, have made them quite popular in recent years. Most PC users nowadays prefer to have an SSD over an HDD. SSD uses flash memory chips instead of spinning platters as a storage device. This makes the data stored inside of an SSD more accessible compared to an HDD. 

How Computer Memory is measured

As we all know, computer functions using binary numbers instead of regular decimal numbers. The difference between binary and decimal is binary only contains two numbers, whereas decimal contains ten. 

The smallest data of a computer is one bit that has two values, one and zero. As they are so small, it is not possible to operate a computer with such small numbers. That is why we see bytes as a way to contain information. A byte consists of eight bits. The number goes up rapidly as you store more and more information on your computer. So, we use kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes to make things easier to understand.

  • 1 kilobyte = 1024 bytes
  • 1 megabyte = 1024 kilobytes or (1024 X 1024) bytes
  • 1 gigabyte = 1024 megabytes or (1024 X 1024 X 1024) bytes
  • 1 terabyte = 1024 gigabytes or (1024 X 1024 X 1024 X 1024) bytes
  • 1 petabyte = 1024 terabytes or (1024 X 1024 X 1024 X 1024) bytes

And the list goes on and on.  

These numbers indicate the total capacity of the memory of your computer or how much information your computer can store. 


As you can see, there is a lot more to the memory of your computer than just some simple numbers. It is quite easy to understand your computer memory once you know How Computer Memory is measured. No matter what type of computer memory you want to measure, the method is the same for all the different types of memory inside your computer. 

We hope this article helped you.

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