Why is adding RAM better at increasing throughput than upgrading to a faster processor?

or adding an additional hard drive? What is the role of RAM?

7 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    That is not necessarily true in every scenario, the only time adding / upgrading RAM will increase throughput / system performance is when your swap usage (page file use) is high and adding RAM will prevent that from happening.

    When system RAM runs low, it uses virtual memory to swap inactive process data to the HDD (hard drive) via the page file (a.k.a swap space). Compared to system RAM, the page file on the HDD is incredibly slow and the system overall feels very sluggish. Adding more system RAM will prevent virtual memory swapping and the system performance will improve.

    Another downside to high RAM demand, unused physical memory is often used by the OS to buffer or cache frequently used data so the system will decrease this memory allocation as it is needed for application data. Adding more system RAM will remedy this situation as well so frequently used data will not have to be reloaded as often, it remains cached for quick access.

    Adding a second HDD (hard drive) generally will not improve the performance, as the original system drive read / write throughput remains the same with or without the second hard drive.

    The only way to improve HDD throughput with multiple HDDs are to use two (or more) of them simultaneously so read / write operations are shared among them. This is known as "striping" the data via hardware or software RAID. So a single file will occupy data on both (or all) the drives in the stripe - if a read / write request is performed it will request this from all the drives at the same time.

    In a nutshell, RAM (a.k.a Random-Access Memory) is used in conjunction with virtual memory to give the total system memory. This provides the "workspace" needed by the operating system to perform an organized layout of the data needed by the various hardware devices / drivers and the application data in an addressable scheme that can be accessed and transferred as quickly as possible. Solid-state RAM can provide this (hence it was named "random-access") at a great speed improvement over devices that store data sequentially like HDDs and optical disks that rely on physical movement of the media and being read by a sensor.

  • Wombat
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    It depends. If you have too little RAM, what will happen is that the operating system will start moving data from memory to a swap file on the hard drive. There will be a lot of hard drive activity, and the computer will be slow to respond.

    It also depends on what you're doing. With stuff like audio and video editing, the hard drive is the bottleneck. Going to a faster hard drive, or a higher-performance multi-drive RAID arrangement would help there. I guess if you had several gigs of RAM you could set up a ramdisk, and use that for editing. Just remember to save the work to a real drive when you're done.

  • 1 decade ago

    RAM is electronically stored data in binary format that is located on the motherboard and directly accessible by the CPU. The more memory a system has available the less often it has to go to the hard drive to get data.

    Most CPU's spend the largest portion of their time waiting for responses and availability of the other hardware to take additional instructions. For the most part, unless you are using large complicated games or doing huge calculations, you don't need the fastest processor available.

    An additional hard drive can help keep up the system speed by being used as the data storage drive and keeping the system drive clean.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    You are trying to get pretty technical, but RAM means "random access memory". First is your processor, which contains a small memory, then virtual memory, then ram. every program that runs on your computer uses some of the memory available, so your ram might not be big enough for you. Go into your start> .programs>.accessories.>system tools.>system information to find out how much memory you have, and how much is being used. If you need more memory, go to www. crucial. com and get your computer scanned, they can tell you exactly what u need.

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  • 1 decade ago

    ram, you could read all about it in wikipedia

    ram is used as a temporary storage room for programs

    so when many programs are running the more ram u use

    when u start running out of ram space yuor computer will get slower, go into task manager, under performance, u can see how much ram its being used,

    1gb of memory wouldn't be bad 2gb would be ideal, but i'm talking about xp, not vista

  • 1 decade ago

    Many CPU's are so fast they spend most of their time, waiting for data. More RAM, the less time it waits.

    If you have insufficient RAM, the CPU must store the data on your HD, which is much slower than RAM.

  • 1 decade ago

    Simply put.

    Your cpu can only transfer the amount and speed of info that your ram can hold and send.

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