ram vs rom

RAM vs ROM: What’s the Difference?

Do you know the difference between ram and rom? Most people don’t, but it’s an important distinction to make when choosing a computer. Ram is short for random access memory, and Rom is short for read-only memory. Rom stores information that is permanently written on the chip, while ram can be rewritten or “updated.” So which one do you need? That depends on what you plan to use your computer for.

What does RAM stand for?

RAM is a temporary memory, so when you restart or shut down your computer, the information temporarily stored in the module is lost. Since data is stored electrically on transistors, it is lost when there is no electric current. When you ask for a file or piece of information, it comes from either the computer’s hard drive or the internet. The information is kept in RAM, so when you switch from one program or page to another, you can get to it right away. When you turn off the computer, the memory is cleared until the process starts over again. Users can easily change, improve, or add to volatile memory.

What does ROM mean?

In computers, ROM stands for “non-volatile memory.” This means that the information is always stored on the chip. The memory doesn’t use an electric current to store information. Instead, binary code is used to write information to each cell. Non-volatile memory is used for parts of the computer that don’t change, like the first part of the software that runs when the computer starts up or the instructions that make your printer work. ROM doesn’t care if you turn off the computer or not. Users can’t change non-volatile memory.

Characteristics of RAM

Here are some important things about RAM: the temporary memory

  • RAM chips are often used to start and load the operating system and applications when a computer is working normally.
  • Much quicker to read and write.
  • The information in RAM stays there as long as the computer is on.
  • A RAM chip can hold many gigabytes (GB) of information.
  • A 32-bit computer can only have up to 4 GB of RAM, while a 64-bit computer can have up to 16 exabytes of RAM.

Characteristics of ROM

Here are some of the most important things about ROM memory:

  • You can only write something once. But once it’s written, you can read it as many times as you want.
  • Most of the time, a ROM chip is used when a modern computer starts up.
  • Nonvolatile ROM memory can only hold a few megabytes (MB) of information, up to 4 MB or more per chip.
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Differences between RAM and ROM

UsageRAM allows the computer to read data quickly to run applications.ROM stores all the application which is needed to boot the computer initially. It only allows for reading.
VolatilityRAM is volatile. So, its contents are lost when the device is powered off.It is non-volatile, i.e., its contents are retained even if the device is powered off
AccessibilityInformation stored in the RAM is easily accessed.The processor can’t directly access the information that is stored in the ROM. In order to access ROM information first, the information is transferred into the RAM, and then it can be executed by the processor.
Read/WriteBoth R (red) and W (write) operations can be performed over the information which is stored in the RAM.The ROM memory allows the user to read the information. But, the user can’t alter the information.
StorageRAM is used to store temporary information.ROM memory is used to store
permanent information, which is non-erasable.
SpeedThe access speed of RAM is faster.Its speed is slower in comparison with RAM. Therefore,
ROM can’t boost up the processor speed.
CostThe price of RAM is quite high.The price of ROM is comparatively low.
Chip sizeThe physical size of the RAM chip is bigger than the ROM chip.The physical size of the ROM chip is smaller than the RAM chip of the same storage capacity.
Preservation of DataElectricity is needed in RAM to flow and preserve informationElectricity is not required to flow and preserve information
StructureThe RAM chip is in rectangle form and is inserted over the motherboard of the computer.Read-only memory (ROM) is a type of storage medium that permanently stores data on personal computers (PCs) and other electronic devices.

RAM vs ROM: Frequently Asked Questions

What kinds of ROM (Read Only Memory) are there?
There are four types of ROM: ROM, PROM (programmable read-only memory), EPROM (erasable programmable read-only memory), an EEPROM (Electrically erasable programmable read-only memory).

What kinds of RAM (Random Access Memory) are there?
RAM comes in two types: Static RAM (SRAM) and Dynamic RAM (DRAM).

What does ROM do?
ROM contains the instructions that allow different pieces of hardware to talk to each other. As was already said, it is necessary for the BIOS to store and run, but it can also be used for basic data management, to hold software for basic utility processes, and to read and write to peripheral devices.

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Where does RAM live?
Even though there are many kinds of RAM, the place where it connects to the computer is easy to find and is almost always in the upper right corner of any consumer-level motherboard. These slots look like long, thin grooves that are only a few millimeters wide.

What does ROM hold?
ROM is the memory that a program or user cannot change. Even when the computer is turned off, ROM keeps its memory. For instance, ROM stores the instructions for how to start up the computer when it is turned back on.


RAM (Random Access Memory) is different from ROM (Read Only Memory) in that it can be changed. So, when the device is turned off, everything on it is lost. ROM stores all the programs that are needed to start up the computer, but you can only read from it.

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Levi Alston is a student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He is currently studying computer science, and he plans to minor in business. Levi enjoys spending his free time on PC and internet forums, where he can talk about anything and everything with friends. He is a witty guy with a friendly demeanor, and he loves making people laugh.