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RAM Speed: What is Random Access Memory Speed?

RAM Speed: What is Random Access Memory Speed?
Written by twitiq

Let us know more about random access memory and more specifically the RAM Speed in this post.

What is a RAM?

Your computer’s random access memory is one of the most vital components that determining your system performance. It is physical memory and virtual memory as well. And, It gives random access applications to store and access data quickly for temporarily. Besides, It stores the information your system is actively using so that it can be accessed very quickly. More importantly, it is short-term memory where data is stored as the application’s needs for processing. It is highly volatile, and it cannot be retained in the absence of a power source. It is perfect for handling the multitude of high-speed tasks that your system throws at it in all instances.

In simple terms, RAM is a short-term memory used for quick data accessing and processing of the CPU.

There are two types of Random Access Memory. They are

  • SRAM or Static RAM
  • DRAM or Dynamic RAM

SRAM is faster than DRAM; therefore, it is the ideal memory chip in most applications. Whereas the DRAMs are a little slower than the first one. They are capacitor-based and need to refresh more frequently. DRAMs consume less power than SRAMs.

RAM is named random access memory because the processor can access any location in memory in contrast with any sequential access. It is made from reed relays, transistors, ICs, magnetic core. Static RAM will continue to hold and store information even when the power is removed. The Dynamic RAM loses all data when power is disconnected.

Functions of RAM:

  • It is a temporary short term memory
  • It temporarily stores the data currently running on the device
  • Stores data of System OS-specific services
  • Stores your web browser, game, or any other application you are currently using
  • It helps the CPU to speed up the process.
  • It helps the CPU quickly, and thereby it allows the CPU to avoid it from digging through the hard drive.
  • Data available in the RAM is readable at the same speed by the components.
  • It has a hardwired connection. Therefore no actual latency in the connection.

What Does RAM Speed Mean?

The time taken by RAM to receive a request from the computer processor and then read or write the data is the speed of the RAM.  If the RAM is faster, then the processing speed will be high. If your RAM is faster, you can increase the speed of memory that transfers information to the other component applications. It means your processor is talking to the other components faster. Thereby it makes your system more efficient.

The speed is measured in cycles; each read and write done on cycle. Random Access Memory speed is the ability of the RAM measured in how many cycles per second it can perform. And, It is measured in MHz clock speed. Therefor,  it is millions of cycles per second (MHz). It is usually compared with the processor’s clock speed. The CAS latency and clock speed are the affecting factors.

The speed of your processor is directly influenced by the motherboard and the speed of the processor.

Each read and writes done on a cycle. RAM speed is measured by how many cycles per second it can perform. For example, if RAM is rated at 3200 MHz, it means it performs 3.2 billion cycles per second.

RAM Speed Explained:

It is nothing but memory frequency. It is the clock speed of the memory. We know the clock speed usually quote in terms of Hertz. Its unit is Hz.  One complete clock cycle is termed as one Hertz.

And It is something similar to CPU frequency. But it is not exactly the same. We know the Random Access Memory does not process the data. It stores and transfers the data between the component hardware like hard drive, CPU, and GPU. Therefore you can easily understand RAM speed is bandwidth.

If the RAM is faster, then it can store and retrieve the data stored more quickly.  In other words, the higher the Clock’s speed, the more data the memory can transfer in a short period of time. Therefore to boost the speed of the memory, some people choose to overclock the RAM. Let us discuss overclocking, its limitations, and potential danger in another post. Technically speaking, the Memory speed purely depends on the Motherboard and CPU. It is important to note that RAM capacity is more critical for high performance than the speed.

RAM Speed vs. Latency:

In simple terms, CAS Latency (CL) refers to the time delay between the command entered and the data delivered.  So it is the gap between the two events, namely query and the response.

The Latency is generally referred to in numbers. Lower the number better is the performance. Lower Latency means quick and faster data access. With lower Latency gives higher data transfer to the CPU. Therefore it speeds up the computer performance overall. Latency can be described as the time taken by the volatile memory to input the data. The number of cycles the volatile memory it takes to find to send the data to the Processing Unit.

CAS latency stands for Column Access Strobe Latency. It is the number of clock cycles taken when the processing unit sends instructions to the volatile memory’s particular column.  And the time taken to respond to that specific query with available data. Higher clock cycles and shorter latency RAM offer good performance.  Please note that the CAS latencies are an inaccurate indicator of performance. Latency is described in nanoseconds. The CAS Latency (CL) indicates only the total number of clock cycles. They do not detail the duration of each clock cycle. Therefore you can rely on CL rating as a sole indicator for the performance of the Volatile memory.

The CL ratings indicate only the total number of clock cycles. They don’t have anything to do with the duration of each clock cycle. Thus, they shouldn’t be extrapolated as the sole indicator of latency performance.

So the Latency has two variables, namely, the number of clock cycles the data needs to go through and the time taken for each clock cycle.

There fore;

Latency = Clock cycle time x Number of clock cycles per operation.

How Speed and Latency are Related?

The Latency and the speed are directly proportional to each other. In other words, the speed and the clock cycle are inversionally proportional to each other. Therefore, there we need a balance between the speed and CL. Which is more critical, Speed or Latency?

It is a very tricky question to answer; since both of them play a vital role in the system’s overall performance. Both Bandwidth and Latency are crucial factors of RAM Speed. Some workloads need more bandwidth over Latency, and some need more Latency than the bandwidth. But overall, both are essential factors for computer performance. And the deciding factor is your need and the budget.

Therefore, we recommend identifying the highest memory speed supported by both the system processor and the motherboard first. Then select the lowest CL-that best fits your budget.

RAM Latency Vs. Clock Speed:

We already discussed Latency is a function of time, but we specify it in clock cycles. Let us discuss that with some examples. Let us consider a RAM that cannot process a request in less than 0.5 nanoseconds. Then it will remain the same even if you increase or decrease the frequency.  If you increase the frequency, you reduce the time of each clock cycle, which means that RAM needs more cycles to reach that 0.5 nanoseconds.

Latency is measured in clock cycles, even though it is a function of time. If a particular memory stick can’t process a memory request in less than half a nanosecond, which will continue to be true even if you increase or decrease the frequency. So if you increase the frequency, you are decreasing the time of each clock cycle, which means that you will need more cycles to reach that half nanosecond. Therefore to compare the Latency with clock speed, we need to convert the latency value to the time value. That is, we need to find the time taken for the clock cycle.

Understanding Clock Cycle Time:

RAM speed calculator Or RAM Latency Calculator:

As we discussed earlier, to calculate the effective Latency, we need to find the clock cycle time that will be in nanoseconds. And then need to work out the time taken for one complete transfer in nanoseconds; it is in ns/T or nanoseconds per transfer. Nowadays, the memory speed is measured in Mega transfers per second (MT/s). This is the data transfer rate. For DDR RAM, it is double the clock rate, and for SDRAM, the data transfer rate and the clock rates are the same, and they are measured in a million cycles per second.

Let us consolidate the following:

MT/s is a million transfers per second

MHZ Million cycles per second

Working on this Clock cycle time is D/2000. Since there is two data cycle in DDR. It is D/1000 for DDR.

Therefore

Effective Latency E= Latency x 2000/ D

Burst Transfer:

Bust mode is a temporary high-speed data transfer. It facilitates sequential data transfer at maximum speed. The burst mode data transfer rate maybe a few times higher than the normal data transmission. This functionality is device-dependent and does not require any additional input from other sources. Therefore during a burst transfer, initial Latency and the data transfer rate are considered for calculating the total transfer time.

The burst transfer occurs when the processing unit can keep the queue memory request incomplete order. The subsequent preparation happens during the Latency. RAM is arranged to enable the saved memory data extraction prior to the actual request to achieve the maximum.

Usually, the Latency changes the RAM speed drastically. Latency is the number of clock cycles needed to read a single bit of information. The 100MHz RAM can send a bit in 1/100000000 seconds, but it will take 1/200000000 seconds to start the reading. To compensate for this lag of Latency, the processor uses a unique technique called burst mode. In burst mode, the processor will store the data request in sequential memory cells. The memory controller prefers that whatever processor is working will come from the same series of memory addresses.

Burst Transfer and Latency:

Therefore it reads several consecutive bits of data together. Thus the first bit is subject to Latency, and successive bits take lesser time in the burst mode. The burst mode of memory is normally expressed as four numbers separated by dashes. The first number tells the required clock cycles need to begin the operation, and the consecutive numbers tell how many cycles are required to read each bit in the row, known as Wordline.

For example, 5-2-2-2-2 tells that it takes five cycles to read the first bit and two cycles for each bit successively.  The bust mode is used in combination with Pipelining.

Pipelining is another means for minimizing the Latency. It organizes the data retrieval into a sort of assembly line process in the queue. The memory controller simultaneously reads one or more from memory, sends the current data to the processor, and writes one or more words to the memory cells. If burst mode and Pipelining are used together, then it can minimize the lag caused by Latency to nil.

RAM Frequency:

The RAM frequency is nothing but the number of bits being transferred on one data line per second. The DDR RAM has two buses, namely the instruction bus and the data bus.

The data bus carries the address of the data from the processor to the memory. And the Instruction bus carries instruction among the memory, processor, and I/O devices.

The data bus is a 64 bits width parallel bus. This means it can transfer 64 bits of parallel data at any given point of time. In a DDR RAM, the data will be assigned at both posedge and negedge. Therefore higher the memory frequency, the higher the data bandwidth, and hence the faster RAM.

RAM Bus Speed:

The RAM speed is affected by the bus width and bus speed. The bus width is nothing but the number of bits that can send to the processor simultaneously. The Bus Speed is nothing but the number of times a group of bits can be sent in each second. Besides, the bus cycle happens every time data travels from volatile memory to the CPU. For example, a 100MHZ 32-bits bus can send 4bytes of data 100 million times per second while 66MHz 16 bits can send 2 bytes of data 66 million times per second. From the above data, you can easily understand that raising the bus width from 16 to 32 bits can triple the data transfer.

Does RAM Speed Affect FPS?

RAM can affect FPS. If you want to maximize the performance, you need to Dual channel the RAM.  Instead of using 16GB single stick RAM; You need to use two eight GB sticks. Generally speaking, the speed does not affect the FPS.

Does RAM Speed Matter?

Actually, your random access memory speed does not alter how fast your CPU can work. Even when you overclocked or hyper-threaded your RAM, it cannot change the speed of the processor. But your RAM can alter the speed of the processor. How fast your information is transferred can depend on the type of DDR memory you are using. The faster your CPU is, the faster most of the things on your computer run. It can play your game without frame rate dipping. And in most applications, any increase in speed will not decrease video rendering or encoding time. Unless you are running out of RAM capacity, nothing will be a slowdown. Most of the tasks will have little or no benefit from Speed but might benefit from havingmore RAM capacity.

Does RAM speed matter for gaming on Intel?

It does not matter for gaming on Intel. Even a high-speed RAM doesn’t make that much difference in gaming for Intel processors.  But in the case of AMD, your performance will increase with random access memory speed relatively.

RAM Speed Test:

The overall performance of your system not only depends on CPU and Mother Board but also RAM Speed. But the random access memory speed depends on the CPU and Motherboard. If you think your system is slow; before overclocking your RAM or replacing it, first do the Speed test to judge your performance of your Random Access Memory.

How to Check RAM Speed?

There are so many ways to check the speed. Here are a few methods:

Task Manager

Command Prompt

Bios

And by using Software

Task Manager:

  • Open the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc at the same time
  • Go to Performance Tab
  • Click on the Memory Tab
  • View the RAM performance

You can see the RAM speed, the amount of RAM that is currently used, and also you can see the available memory, which you can further utilize.

Command Prompt:

  • Go to the Run command by pressing the Windows logo key and R simultaneously to activate Run Command.
  • Type cmd
  • Click Enter to go to the command prompt
  • Type or Copy paste wmic memorychip get speed in the command prompt
  • Press Enter

This will allow you to check your volatile memory chip’s performance and speed.

BIOS Setup:

At the BIOS setup, you can check the RAM Speed.  And, if you wish to make any appropriate changes in the RAM settings, then follow the below steps to do it.

  • Switch on your computer
  • Press the appropriate Function key to enter the BIOS setting.
  • Move on to overclock setting by using arrow keys on your keyboard
  • Hit Enter
  • Select DRAM or Memory to view the RAM Setting
  • Do the needful changes (if you need any)
  • Press ESC until you return to Main Menu
  • Press F10 to save your changes

Your system will reboot with the desired changes you made.

With Software and Online Tools:

UserBenchMark

You can check the speed with online tools and Software like User BenchMark. Download the app. You open the file folder. It will automatically run the speed tests of various varieties, such as the advance memory test or the performance test.

You will get the results quickly in the web browser. With the test results with the present configuration, it will give appropriate explanations. It just tells you what kinds of tasks your computer can employ at the current configuration.

CPU-Z

Visit their home page and download the Software and run. It will run an analysis of your system, including RAM speed. The report will provide the RAM type, size, channels, frequency, DRAM frequency, Refresh cycle times and clock speed, and more.

 

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