chap6 - All-In-One CompTIA Network All-in-One Exam Guide...

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CHAPTER 6 221 RAM In this chapter, you will learn how to • Identify the different types of DRAM packaging • Explain the varieties of RAM • Select and install RAM • Perform basic RAM troubleshooting Whenever people come up to me and start professing their computer savvy, I ask them a few questions to see how much they really know. In case you and I ever meet and you decide you want to “talk tech” with me, I’ll tell you my first two questions just so you’ll be ready. Both involve random access memory ( RAM ), the working memory for the CPU. 1. “How much RAM is in your computer?” 2. “What is RAM and why is it so important that every PC has some?” Can you answer either of these questions? Don’t fret if you can’t—you’ll know how to answer both of them before you finish this chapter. Let’s start by reviewing what you know about RAM thus far. EXAM TIP The CompTIA A+ certification domains use the term memory to describe the short-term storage used by the PC to load the operating system and running applications. The more common term in the industry is RAM , for random access memory, the kind of short-term memory you’ll find in every computer. More specifically, the primary system RAM is dynamic random access memory ( DRAM ). For the most part, this book uses the terms RAM and DRAM. When not in use, programs and data are held in mass storage, which usually means a hard drive but could also mean a USB thumb drive, a CD-ROM, or some other device that can hold data when the computer is turned off. When you load a program by click- ing an icon in Windows, the program is copied from the mass storage device to RAM and then run (Figure 6-1). You saw in Chapter 5, “Microprocessors,” that the CPU uses dynamic random access memory (DRAM) as RAM for all PCs. Just like CPUs, DRAM has gone through a number of evolutionary changes over the years, resulting in improved DRAM technologies with
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CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 222 names such as SDRAM, RDRAM, and DDR RAM. This chapter starts by explaining how DRAM works, and then moves into the types of DRAM used over the past few years to see how they improve on the original DRAM. The third section, “Working with RAM,” goes into the details of finding and installing RAM. The chapter finishes with trouble- shooting RAM problems. Historical/Conceptual Understanding DRAM As discussed in Chapter 5, “Microprocessors,” DRAM functions like an electronic spreadsheet, with numbered rows containing cells and each cell holding a one or a zero. Now let’s look at what’s physically happening. Each spreadsheet cell is a special type of semiconductor that can hold a single bit—one or zero—by using microscopic capacitors and transistors. DRAM makers put these semiconductors into chips that can hold a certain number of bits. The bits inside the chips are organized in a rectangular fashion, using rows and columns.
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