Internal or Main Memory

  • The main memory is the central unit of the computer system. It is relatively large and fast memory to store programs and data during the computer operation. These memories employ semiconductor integrated circuits. The basic element of the semiconductor memory is the memory cell.
  • The memory cell has three functional terminals which carries the electrical signal.
  • The select terminal: It selects the cell.
  • The data in terminal: It is used to input data as 0 or 1 and data out or sense terminal is used for the output of the cell's state.
  • The control terminal: It controls the function i.e. it indicates read and write.


  • Most of the main memory in a general purpose computer is made up of RAM integrated circuits chips, but a portion of the memory may be constructed with ROM chips

RAM– Random Access memory

  • Memory cells can be accessed for information transfer from any desired random location.
  • The process of locating a word in memory is the same and requires of locating a word in memory is the same and requires an equal amount of time no matter where the cells are located physically in memory thus named 'Random access'.
  • Integrated RAM are available in two possible operating modes, Static and Dynamic

Static RAM (SRAM)

  • The static RAM consists of flip flop that stores binary information and this stored information remains valid as long as power is applied to the unit.


                                                      Fig: SRAM structure

  • Four transistors T1, T2, T3 and t4 are cross connected in an arrangement that produces a stable logical state.
  • In logic state 1, point C1 is high and point C2 is low. In this state, T1 & T4 are off and T2 & T3 are on.
  • In logic state 0, point C1 is low and C2 is high. In this state, T1 & T4 are on and T2 & T3 are off.
  • The address line controls the two transistors T5 & T6. When a signal is applied to this line, the two transistors are switched on allowing for read and write operation.
  • For a write operation, the desired bit value is applied to line B while it's complement is applied to line B complement. This forces the four transistors T1, T2, T3 & T4 into a proper state.
  • For the read operation, the bit value is read from line B.

Dynamic RAM (DRAM)

  • The dynamic RAM stores the binary information in the form of electrical charges and capacitor is used for this purpose.
  • Since charge stored in capacitor discharges with time, capacitor must be periodically recharged and which is also called refreshing memory.


                                                                 Fig: DRAM structure

  • The address line is activated when the bit value from this cell is to be read or written.
  • The transistor acts as switch that is closed e. allowed current to flow, if voltage is applied to the address line; and opened i.e. no current to flow, if no voltage is present in the address line.

For DRAM writing

  • The address line is activated which causes the transistor to conduct.
  • The sense amplifier senses the content of the data bus line for this cell.
  • If the bus line is low, then amplifier will ground the bit line of cell and any charge in capacitor is addressed out.
  • If data bus is high, then a +5V is applied on bit line and voltage will flow through transistor and charge the capacitor.

For DRAM reading

  • Address line is activated which causes the transistor to conduct.
  • If there is charge stored in capacitor, then current will flow through transistor and raise the voltage in bit line. The amplifier will store the voltage and place a 1 on data out line.
  • If there is no charge stored in capacitor, then no current will flow through transistor and voltage bit line will not be raised. The amplifier senses that there is no charge and places a 0 on data out line.

SRAM versus DRAM

  • Both volatile

              o Power needed to preserve data

  • Dynamic RAM
    •  Uses capacitor to store information
    • More dense e. more cells can be accommodated per unit area
    • Slower, analog device
    • Less expensive, small in size
    • Needs refreshing circuit
    • Used in main memory, larger memory units
  • Static RAM
    • Uses flip flop to store information
    • Needs more space
    • Faster, digital device
    • Expensive, big in size
    • Don't require refreshing circuit
    • Used in cache memory

ROM– Read Only memory

  • Read only memory (ROM) contains a permanent pattern of data that cannot be changed.
  • A ROM is non-volatile that is no power source is required to maintain the bit values in memory.
  • While it is possible to read a ROM, it is not possible to write new data into it.
  • The data or program is permanently presented in main memory and never be loaded from a secondary storage device with the advantage of ROM.
  • A ROM is created like any other integrated circuit chip, with the data actually wired into the chip as part of the fabrication process.
  • It presents two problems
  • The data insertion step includes a relatively large fixed cost, whether one or thousands of copies of a particular ROM are fabricated.
  • There is no room for If one bit is wrong, the whole batch of ROM must be thrown out.

Types of ROM

  • Programmable ROM (PROM)
    • It is non-volatile and may be written into only once. The writing process is performed electrically and may be                   performed by a supplier or customer at a time later than the original chip fabrication.
  • Erasable Programmable ROM (EPROM)
    • It is read and written electrically. However, before a write operation, all the storage cells must be erased to the                same initial state by exposure of the packaged chip to ultraviolet radiation (UV ray). Erasure is performed by                      shining an intense ultraviolet light through a window that is designed into the memory chip. EPROM is optically                managed and more expensive than PROM, but it has the advantage of the multiple update capability.
  • Electrically Erasable programmable ROM (EEPROM)
    • This is a read mostly memory that can be written into at any time without erasing prior contents, only the byte or            byte addresses are updated. The write operation takes considerably longer than the read operation, on the order              of several hundred microseconds per byte. The EEPROM combines the advantage of non-volatility with the                        flexibility of being updatable in place, using ordinary bus control, addresses and data lines. EEPROM is more                      expensive than EPROM and also is less dense, supporting fewer bits per chip.
  • Flash Memory
    • Flash memory is also the semiconductor memory and because of the speed with which it can be reprogrammed,            it is termed as flash. It is interpreted between EPROM and EEPROM in both cost and functionality. Like EEPROM,                flash memory uses an electrical erasing technology. An entire flash memory can be erased in one or a few seconds,            which is much faster than EPROM. In addition, it is possible to erase just blocks of memory rather than an entire                chip. However, flash memory doesn't provide byte level erasure, a section of memory cells are erased in an action              or 'flash'.

External Memory

  • The devices that provide backup storage are called external memory or auxiliary It includes serial access type such as magnetic tapes and random access type such as magnetic disks.

Magnetic Tape

  • A magnetic tape is the strip of plastic coated with a magnetic recording Data can be recorded and read as a sequence of character through read / write head. It can be stopped, started to move forward or in reverse or can be rewound. Data on tapes are structured as number of parallel tracks running length wise. Earlier tape system typically used nine tracks. This made it possible to store data one byte at a time with additional parity bit as 9th track. The recording of data in this form is referred to as parallel recording.

Magnetic Disk

  • A magnetic disk is a circular plate constructed with metal or plastic coated with magnetic material often both side of disk are used and several disk stacked on one spindle which Read/write head available on each All disks rotate together at high speed. Bits are stored in magnetize surface in spots along concentric circles called tracks. The tracks are commonly divided into sections called sectors. After the read/write head are positioned in specified track the system has to wait until the rotating disk reaches the specified sector under read/write head. Information transfer is very fast once the beginning of sector has been reached. Disk that are permanently attached to the unit assembly and cannot be used by occasional user are called hard disk drive with removal disk is called floppy disk.

Optical Disk

  • The huge commercial success of CD enabled the development of low cost optical disk storage technology that has revolutionized computer data storage. The disk is form from resin such as Digitally recorded information is imprinted as series of microscopic pits on the surface of poly carbonate. This is done with the finely focused high intensity leaser. The pitted surface is then coated with reflecting surface usually aluminum or gold. The shiny surface is protected against dust and scratches by the top coat of acrylic.
  • Information is retrieved from CD by low power laser. The intensity of reflected light of laser changes as it encounters a pit. Specifically if the laser beam falls on pit which has somewhat rough surface the light scatters and low intensity is reflected back to the surface. The areas between pits are called lands. A land is a smooth surface which reflects back at higher intensity. The change between pits and land is detected by photo sensor and converted into digital signal. The sensor tests the surface at regular interval. 


  • Multi-layer
  • Very high capacity (4.7G per layer)
  • Full length movie on single disk
  • Using MPEG compression
  • Finally standardized (honest!)
  • Movies carry regional coding
  • Players only play correct region films


  • Loads of trouble with standards
  • First generation DVD drives may not read first generation DVD-W disks
  • First generation DVD drives may not read CD-RW disks