Memory Primer- Giordan on Graphics | WebReference

Memory Primer- Giordan on Graphics

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RAM Requirements for Graphics

Memory is everything.

It is more important than your applications or your hard drive.

If you’re faced with a choice between buying a faster processor without much memory, or buying a slightly slower processor with more memory...take the memory.

Everyone knows that these things are true, but there are a great many designers who still don’t understand why they are true. They just know that they need lots of RAM, which at least is a good place to start. This week I will look at this greatest of all system investments in some detail, discussing how memory works, what applications use the most of it, how to shop for it., and how to install it.

Acronyms Abound

When we venture into the realm of memory, the acronyms really start to fly. There are terms like RAM, DRAM, SRAM, VRAM, SIMM, DIMM, EDO, PCMCIA, Cache RAM...all thrown about by techies and non-techies alike. Some know what these things mean, at least to the point of being able to recite the various acronyms back to you. My experience has been, however, that most of the people who know what these acronyms mean (usually the dealers), don’t have a real understanding of how important RAM is for large files. They hide under catch phrases like, "More is better.", and "You can never have enough RAM." When you’re shelling out ten grand for a few chips you can fit in your pocket, I think you’re entitled to more than catch phrases.

We’ll dispense with the acronyms first, then we’ll get down to explaining what all this stuff does. The list that follows are definitions for the most important memory acronyms and terms:

RAM- Random Access Memory
DRAM- Dynamic Random Access Memory
SRAM- Static Random Access Memory
VRAM- Video Random Access Memory
SIMM- Single Inline Memory Module
DIMM- Dual Inline Memory Module
EDO- Extended Data Output
PCMCIA- (Also called PC Card)- Personal Computer Memory Card Industry Association
Nanosecond- One billionth of a second. The unit of measure for the performance of memory chips.
Chip- The engineering term for an integrated circuit
Module- The printed circuit boards that chips are mounted on
Virtual Memory- Apple’s method of segmenting hard drive space for use as RAM
RAM Disk- The RAM disk is a block of DRAM that is configured to work as a hard drive.


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Produced by Daniel Giordan

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URL: 14/
Created: May 17, 1999
Revised: May 17, 1999