Main Memory Definition – What is Main Memory?

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Whether you are interested in building or purchasing a computer or you are wondering if the latest RPG can be played on your humble PC; knowing what RAM is and how much enough is is important.

Main memory, RAM or random access memory, is an essential part of a computer system in regards to the speed and performance of a computer. RAM is primarily used for storing programs and applications whilst the computer system is running. It is fast, much faster than the hard-drive, which is used for saving large amounts of data, due to it being non-volatile; whereas RAM is volatile, meaning that all data is lost when the computer loses power.  Although main memory is quick, it is not the fastest component, that mantle goes to the registers, as well as being the smallest. Main memory helps supports the workload from caches as well as working with the I/O processor (not to be confused with the main CPU).

RAM can be restricted as:

  • Dynamic (DRAM)
  • Static (SRAM)


What is DDR RAM?

DDR simply means, double-data rate, resulting is higher transfer rates and fast bandwidth. There are 4 superseding variations of DDR RAM, with DDR 4 being the latest and greatest.


How much is enough?

To run Windows 7/8/8.1/10 on your machine you will need must have a minimum of 1GB RAM, with a maximum of 4GB for the 32-bit version. Anything more than 4GB and it won’t be used due to the fact that 32-bit operating systems can only access 232  bytes of memory. For more information, see this post on ZDNet.

For 64 bit versions of Windows, there must be at least 2GB of main memory.

Mac OS X Lion and El Capitan require there to be at least 2GB of RAM.

Regarding Linux; there are many variations of the Linux operating system; Ubuntu desktop version requires at least 512MB (half a Gigabyte) of main memory, Red Hat requires 1GB RAM.