cpe229_lec12 - CPE 229 Course Notes Lecture 12 Copyright...

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CPE 229 Course Notes: Lecture 12 Copyright: 2005 Bryan Mealy An Overview of Memory One of the high-level computer architectures we’ve previously discussed is shown in Figure 1. One of the basic modules in this architecture is the memory unit. At its higher level, the memory serves one function: it stores data. In official computer terms, a memory is a collection of cells capable of storing binary data. This set of notes discusses some of the more basic aspects of memory. Once again, we’ll be discussing computer memory for one set of notes; while this will hopefully present a solid overview of the subject, it is by no means overly complete in its approach. You should refer to other sources for the full story. The unstated goal of these notes is to grasp the basic concepts and basic lingo regarding computer memory. The reality is that there are so many different types of memory out there, a few pages of notes can’t possibly go into too much detail. The hope is that if you’re ever faced with picking up a memory spec and are forced to read through it, you’ll be roughly familiar with some of the terms you come across. Before we start, there is one clarification that we need to make. Often time when discussing computer concepts, the terms “data” and “information” are used interchangeably. In most cases, this is no big deal, but you need to understand there is a distinct difference. In the context of computer, data is nothing more than a bunch of 1’s and 0’s. Information is related to the interpretation of that data. Data is often referred to as having information content and there is actually a unit used to measure the information content of data 1 . Roughly speaking, it is up to the user to interpret data as having certain information content or not. For example, a given set of 1’s and 0’s may appear complete random but it could also represent a set of instructions for a given computer. Or better yet, a memory unit stores data; if this data represents instructions to a computer, then you could consider the data to be information. If the data was nothing more than random bit patters, then the data would be nothing more than data. The point here is that you need to be on the lookout for misuses of the terms “data” and “information”; it usually does not matter but sometimes it actually does. For this set of notes, it probably doesn’t. But hopefully it was worth the toner used to print out this humble verbage. Figure 1: General model of a computer. In reality, data is stored in many different parts of modern computer system. For this discussion, we’ll be dealing with only a basic computer model so we’ll be skipping over many of the possibilities. For this discussion, we’ll only consider our memory to bits associated with “data memory” and “instruction memory”. In this context, the instruction is used to store bit patterns that control the basic functions of the computer while data memory is used as temporary storage of bits for various purposes which mainly
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cpe229_lec12 - CPE 229 Course Notes Lecture 12 Copyright...

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