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What Is Static Random Access Memory?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 10 April 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Static Random Access Memory (SRAM) is a form of computer memory typically used to read and write during execution of programs and processes. It is usually volatile, which means that it requires power for data to remain within it, so it is not used for long-term storage of information. Static random access memory is designed to retain data on it, while powered, without being refreshed continuously, allowing it to run faster than other types. Unlike Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM), however, SRAM design allows for only a rather low amount of memory on a small card or chip and is more expensive.

Although the term "memory" can be used to refer to computer data storage, it more often indicates processing power through something like static random access memory. Most SRAM is volatile and so it only retains information that it is reading or writing as long as it has power. Non-volatile memory is typically used for storage, such as a hard drive, because it can retain data even without a power supply. There are non-volatile forms of static random access memory, but they are fairly rare, typically only used within small electronic devices and appliances.

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Static random access memory is basically used for running processes, either through reading or writing data. As a computer is used to run a program or read information contained on a storage device, the processor within the computer sets the pace for how quickly data can be accessed. This information is read or written by something like static random access memory, which can hold data while the computer is being used, but does not contain it afterward. The term "static" indicates that SRAM can maintain the information upon it, as long as there is power, without the computer refreshing it periodically.

In contrast to static random access memory, there is also Dynamic Random Access Memory or DRAM, which is commonly used as the major processing memory within personal computers. DRAM is typically volatile memory, but it is designed to maintain data only through frequent refreshes by the computer system. Since SRAM does not require this refresh from the processor or computer, it is able to read and write information faster than DRAM. The architecture of static random access memory, however, requires more space than DRAM, making it inefficient for applications that need a great deal of memory. SRAM is also more expensive than dynamic memory, so it is typically used in more specialized applications such as memory for processors and devices like printers.

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