Definition

DRAM (dynamic random access memory)

Dynamic random access memory (DRAM) is the most common kind of random access memory (RAM) for personal computers and workstations. The network of electrically-charged points in which a computer stores quickly accessible data in the form of 0s and 1s is called memory. Random access means that the PC processor can access any part of the memory directly rather than having to proceed sequentially from some starting place. DRAM is dynamic in that, unlike static RAM (SRAM), it needs to have its storage cells refreshed or given a new electronic charge every few milliseconds. Static RAM does not need refreshing because it operates on the principle of moving current that is switched in one of two directions rather than a storage cell that holds a charge in place. Static RAM is generally used for cache memory, which can be accessed more quickly than DRAM.

DRAM stores each bit in a storage cell consisting of a capacitor and a transistor. Capacitors tend to lose their charge rather quickly; thus, the need for recharging. A variety of other RAM interfaces to the computer exist. These include: EDO RAM and SDRAM.

Contributor(s): Evan Jennings and Reg G. Proudfoot
This was last updated in September 2005
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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