With the recent announcement of the 2GB RAM packing LG Optimus LTE2 and word that the recently unveiled Docomo Samsung Galaxy S3 with 2GB RAM would likely be making its way to US LTE variants, for some of us who are less knowledgeable of technical terms it begs the question – what actually is RAM? And further; how much RAM do we actually need on our computers and our phones?
Will 2GB RAM tipped for US Samsung Galaxy S3 models offer any improvements over the 1GB international model?
RAM stands for “Random Access Memory” and runs alongside the CPU, GPU and ROM (storage) in making up a computer.
Think of it like this: ROM contains all the information. Instructions are given to the CPU to process the information, and then the GPU displays this on our screens. RAM is the part that connects all these parts and helps information travel from ROM to the CPU. RAM needs to be incredibly fast and powerful in order to do this. For this reason, it is also incredibly expensive. This is why, it is unnecessary to have high levels of RAM on small devices like phones and tablets.
One also has to be careful with RAM – unlike other parts of the computer, information is not stored for future use – it needs to have a power supply in order to keep information, so it would be wise not to let the battery run out on your tablet. Those who were in possession of one of Microsoft’s early palm-sized PCs will know exactly what we’re talking about. In order to make the PCs run fast, they had almost everything stored on the RAM – meaning if the battery ran out, all the information just disappeared.
Although generally it is considered the more RAM the better, but you should not waste space by having more than you need. You should also never have less than you need to keep the important bits of your OS loaded in RAM, as this can result in swapping (data being moved from the RAM onto a non-volatile cache such as a swap file). The level of RAM that we would recommend as appropriate for a smartphone is anywhere in the region of 512MB to 1GB – 2GB is just unnecessary. However 2GB in a tablet may be more useful, with OSes getting more complicated and apps getting larger in memory, we need something that goes that bit faster.
This can be a vicious cycle though – as RAM capacity increases, so do the volume of larger memory apps and more advanced operating systems, which leads to slower devices, so RAM will need to be increased yet again, requiring faster CPUs and more cores.
On a side note, the US Samsung Galaxy S3 models are rumored to hit the market sometime this summer, while the LG Optimus LTE2 is tipped for Verizon Wireless.