Problems With Computer RAM
Sometimes, while working, one might have experienced problems with Computer RAM, out of nowhere. Here are some common problems and their simple but logical solutions.
RAM (Random Access Memory) – An Overview:
RAM (Random Access Memory) is the hardware/component in a computer where the operating system (OS), application programs and data in current use are loaded for operations by the device’s processor (CPU). RAM is the main memory in a computer. It is much faster to read and write to other kinds of storage, such as a hard disk drive (HDD), solid-state drive (SSD) or optical drive (CD/DVD).
Random Access Memory is volatile. That means data is retained in RAM as long as the computer is on, but it is lost when the computer is turned off. When the computer is rebooted, the OS and other files are reloaded into RAM, usually from an HDD or SSD.
Function of RAM
Because of its volatility, RAM can’t store data permanently. RAM can be compared to a person’s short-term memory, and a hard disk drive to a person’s long-term memory. Short-term memory is focused on immediate work, but it can only work a limited number of facts in view at any given specific time. When a person’s short-term memory fills up, it can be refreshed with facts stored in the brain’s long-term memory.
A computer also works this way. If RAM fills up, the computer’s processor must repeatedly go to the hard disk to overlay the old data in RAM with new data. This process slows the computer’s operation.
A computer’s hard disk can become completely full of data and unable to take any more, but RAM won’t run out of memory. However, the combination of RAM and storage memory can be completely used up.
How does RAM work?
The term random access as applied to RAM comes from the fact that any storage location, also known as any memory address, can be accessed directly. Originally, the term Random Access Memory was used to distinguish regular core memory from offline memory.
Offline memory typically referred to magnetic tape from which a specific piece of data could only be accessed by locating the address sequentially, starting at the beginning of the tape. RAM is organized and controlled in a way that enables data to be stored and retrieved directly to and from specific locations.
Other types of storage — such as the hard drive and CD-ROM— are also accessed directly or randomly, but the term random access isn’t used to describe these other types of storage.
RAM is similar in concept to a set of boxes in which each box can hold a 0 or a 1. Each box has a unique address that is found by counting across the columns and down the rows. A set of RAM boxes is called an array, and each box is known as a cell.
To find a specific cell, the RAM controller sends the column and row address down a thin electrical line etched into the chip. Each row and column in a RAM array has its own address line. Any data that’s read flows back on a separate data line.
RAM is physically small in size and stored using microchips. It’s also small in terms of the amount of data it can hold. A typical laptop computer may come with 8 gigabytes of RAM, while a hard disk can hold 10 terabytes.
A hard drive, on the other hand, stores data on the magnetized surface of what looks like a vinyl record. Alternatively, an SSD stores data in memory chips that, unlike RAM, are nonvolatile. They don’t depend on having constant power and won’t lose data once the power is turned off. RAM microchips are gathered together into memory modules. These plug into slots in a computer’s motherboard. A bus, or a set of electrical paths, is used to connect the motherboard slots to the processor.
Most PCs enable users to add RAM modules up to a certain limit. Having more RAM in a computer cuts down on the number of times the processor must read data from the hard disk, an operation that takes longer than reading data from RAM. RAM access time is in nanoseconds, while storage memory access time is in milliseconds.
How much RAM is needed?
The amount of RAM needed all depends on what the user is doing. Usually, the OS requires 4 GB RAM for smooth operation. When editing video, for example, it is recommended that a system have at least 16 GB RAM, though more is preferred. For photo editing using Photoshop, Adobe recommends a system have at least 4GB of RAM to run Photoshop CC on a Mac. However, if the user is working with other applications at the same time, even 8GB of RAM can slow things down.
Types of RAM
RAM comes in two primary forms:
- Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) makes up the typical computing device’s RAM, and as was previously noted, it needs that power to be on to retain stored data.
Each DRAM cell has a charge or lack of charge held in an electrical capacitor. This data must be constantly refreshed with an electronic charge every few milliseconds to compensate for leaks from the capacitator. A transistor serves as a gate, determining whether a capacitor’s value can be read or written.
- Static Random Access Memory (SRAM) also needs constant power to hold on to data, but it doesn’t need to be continually refreshed the way DRAM does.
In SRAM, instead of a capacitor holding the charge, the transistor acts as a switch, with one position serving as 1 and the other position as 0. Static RAM requires several transistors to retain one bit of data compared to dynamic RAM which needs only one transistor per bit. As a result, SRAM chips are much larger and more expensive than an equivalent amount of DRAM.
However, SRAM is significantly faster and uses less power than DRAM. The price and speed differences mean static RAM is mainly used in small amounts as cache memory inside a computer’s processor.
History of RAM: RAM vs. SDRAM
RAM was originally asynchronous because the RAM microchips had a different clock speed than the computer’s processor. This was a problem as processors became more powerful and RAM couldn’t keep up with the processor’s requests for data.
In the early 1990s, clock speeds were synchronized with the introduction of synchronous dynamic RAM, or SDRAM. By synchronizing a computer’s memory with the inputs from the processor, computers were able to execute tasks faster.
However, the original single data rate SDRAM (SDR SDRAM) reached its limit quickly. Around the year 2000, double data rate synchronous Random Access Memory (DDR SRAM) was developed. This moved data twice in a single clock cycle, at the start and the end.
DDR SDRAM has evolved three times, with DDR2, DDR3 and DDR4, and each iteration has brought improved data throughput speeds and reduced power use. However, each DDR version has been incompatible with earlier ones because, with each iteration, data is handled in larger batches.
Graphics double data rate (GDDR) SDRAM is used in graphics and video cards. Like DDR SDRAM, the technology enables data to be moved at various points in a CPU clock cycle. However, it runs at higher voltages and has less strict timing than DDR SDRAM.
With parallel tasks, such as 2D and 3D video rendering, tight access times aren’t as necessary, and GDDR can enable the higher speeds and memory bandwidth needed for GPU performance.
Similar to DDR, GDDR has gone through several generations of development, with each providing more performance and lower power consumption. GDDR6 is the latest generation of graphics memory.
RAM vs. virtual memory
A computer can run short on memory, especially when running multiple programs simultaneously. Operating systems can compensate for physical memory shortfalls by creating virtual memory.
With virtual memory, data is temporarily transferred from RAM to disk storage, and virtual address space is increased using active memory in RAM and inactive memory in an HDD to form contiguous addresses that hold an application and its data. Using virtual memory, a system can load larger programs or multiple programs running at the same time, letting each operate as if it has infinite memory without having to add more RAM.
Virtual memory is able to handle twice as many addresses as RAM. A program’s instructions and data are initially stored at virtual addresses, and once the program is executed, those addresses are turned into actual memory addresses.
One downside to virtual memory is that it can slow a computer because data must be mapped between the virtual and physical memory. With physical memory alone, programs work directly from RAM.
Identification of different types of RAM:
DDR1, DDR2, DDR3 and DDR4 RAM are mostly used in the market. However, DDR 1 and DDR 2 are hard too find nowadays but, if you find any here is how you can identify it.
First, keep your RAM front-facing as you can see in the image below. Just, take a look to the notch each DDR cut out or notch distance is different from others DDR. You can see it in the image.
1. Distance of Notch
A notch means a little cut out mark between the pins of a RAM.
- DDR1, DDR2, DDR3 and DDR 4 all of them have a cut-out mark on the base of the RAM.
- But you can see the cut-out mark or notch distance easily.
- Notch of DDR1 and DDR2 RAM are quite similar but if take a closer look.
- You can find DDR1 notch right underneath the IC (Integrated Chip) and DDR2 notch is a bit far from the IC.
- Notch of DDR3 is different from the other two.
- Notch of DDR4 is almost in the middle and right underneath the IC.
2. Integrated Chip (IC)
- DDR3 RAM has a small and square type IC.
- DDR2 RAM IC is bigger than DDR3 but, it’s smaller than DDR1.
- IC in DDR1 touches both the top and bottom of the RAM.
- The IC in DDR2 RAM is in the centre.
- DDR 4 RAM also has small and square type IC like DDR 3 but, in two rows.
3. Number of Pins in DDR1, DDR2, DDR3 and DDR4
- DDR1 RAM contains 184 Pins.
- DDR2 RAM contains 240 Pins.
- DDR3 RAM contains 240 Pins.
- DDR4 RAM contains 288 Pins.
4. Voltage of RAM
The voltage of RAM cannot be used to physically identify any RAM. But, it can be very helpful when you place a RAM in the motherboard slot because the voltage is written on the RAM slot of the motherboard.
- DDR1 RAM operates at a voltage of 2.5 V.
- DDR2 RAM operates at a voltage of 1.8 V.
- DDR3 RAM operates at a voltage of 1.5 V.
- DDR4 RAM operates at a voltage of 1.2 V.
How To Identify DDR1, DDR2, DDR3 And DDR4 RAM On Windows
First, launch the Task Manager on your PC and click on the Performance Tab. Now, select memory option from the left column, and look at the very top right. It will show how much RAM you have and on what type of RAM your PC is using.
Common RAM Problems and Best Solutions 2022
How To Identify Different Types Of RAM On Mac
A quick way to see what type of RAM is installed in your Mac. Look at the top left corner of your screen, you will see an Apple icon click on it. Now, go to About this Mac >> Under Overview >> Memory and it will show the information about the RAM.
|DDR SDRAM generations details:|
Common RAM problems and solutions:
RAM (Random Access Memory) can trigger problems sometimes, and they are easy to resolve. Here, only the most common problem is discussed as other problems are rare.
- Improper installation or
- RAM comes out of slot due to overheating/loose contact
From time to time, check the Ram whether it is seated tightly/firmly and the upper and lower notch/lock is attached properly. Sometimes, blue screen error “error reading address at x0000….” appears, which can be resolved by changing the RAM Slot, if available. It also may appear if your HDD/SSD is faulty and the RAM cannot read /write from a specific cluster or there is an error in the HDD/SSD due to bad shutdown. Using check disk may resolve this, too.