Memory and Storage

Objectives of memory and storage are interconnected yet significantly separate in the computing environment. These can continue to retain their states within a computer even in the absence of a power supply.

RAM and Storage

We are referring to an internal computer storage whenever using terms such as storage and memory. Memory means Random Access Memory or RAM, which is associated with CPU that processes data. On the other hand data is retained in the form of storage on the hard disk of computer that can either be for a long or short period.

In fact, storage has been commonly associated with a hard drive or Hard Disk Drive over a long period. The Solid State Drives are now being increasingly sought after as an effective and more efficient storage device as compared to Hard Disk Drives. An SSD does not operate with help of moving parts unlike an HDD. Absence of mechanical components helps SSDs more durable and faster.

Random Access Memory is nothing but the memory part of the computer system. In terms of costs for every megabyte, RAM is far costlier than a corresponding storage space of a storage disk.

There is a very basic difference between storage and memory and that relates to the power supply. If a computer system is switched off, then storage will continue to hold the data till the time you turn the system on. However, such data retention capability is not exhibited by RAM that does not retain the data in the same state due to its volatile nature. In case of storage the data is retained in a non-volatile state and hence the difference.

Storage and Memory

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Other Storage Options

In a swap space environment, part of the storage is converted into computer’s memory in order to transfer data or applications to the drive from active memory. In any situation that requires virtual memory space to be created a paging space can deliver twice the amount of RAM.

ROM or Read-only Memory is another type of storage in a computer system that is aimed at facilitating storage of mission critical files including BIOS and firmware programs that can at the most updated by implementation of flashing.

We are quite familiar with small USB drives that can be carried along and used on any computer system for exchange of files from one system to another. Such storage devices are used only for file storage. These cannot be used to store applications.

These portable and small devices are available as memory sticks, cards, or pen drives and they enable storage of a wide spectrum of files including video, images, documents, music, and much more. These are also very popular among executives who need to conduct meetings by giving presentations.

RAM Memory

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Advanced Memory Options

As stated earlier, the gap between memory and storage is reduced considerably in case of flash memory. The future technology advancement is poised to reduce this divide even further. Storage Class Memory is in a development stage as of now, but it is certainly going to provide solution for dealing with the difference between memory and storage solutions.
SCM is fundamentally being designed as an advanced version of memory, which is not only non-volatile but also promises to be the next generation data processing technology. Storage Class Memory would integrate legacy technologies that deal with memory and storage.

Major cause of differences between storage and memory can be attributed to efficiency and cost factor. While data retention and cost are considered to be a significant limitations of even the most advanced memory options such as dynamic RAM, storage solutions provide extremely economical alternatives that can not only retain data but offer excellent cost efficiency as well.

However, storage cannot be relied upon to deliver supreme efficiency and speed of data processing, which are the main attributes of memory. Main challenges of memory revolve around limited scalability in machine learning and other environments such as in-memory databases. These technologies exert considerable stress on memory to the extent that it is no longer affordable and capable of sustaining the pressure.

The new technology of Storage Class Memory deals with improving memory by adding features of scalability and data retention to it. SCM is aimed at empowering data management as enterprises need faster and significantly scalable memory solutions to deal with data intensive technologies such as big data and machine learning.


Traditionally, memory and storage have always been treated as two separate entities that are essential for managing data in an enterprise environment. However, one has to deal with two different systems that need to be managed individually due to difference between their performance and efficiency. Swap space allows conversion of storage into memory to a limited extent. Similarly SSDs have also proved to be effective alternatives to Hard Disk Drives

Although Storage Class Memory appears to be an effective solution to these issues, it would be still early days for this technology to become practical and affordable. Unless we are able to entirely replace storage factor, such a solution would not be possible. Roles played by memory and storage are inter-connected. However, in a computing environment these are functioning as separate entities.