DRAM vs SRAM vs SDRAM: What Are the Differences?

Acronyms, acronyms, acronyms! We can’t seem to get away from them. Specifically, DRAM, SRAM, and SDRAM. Each of these access memory terms is important and necessary. The good news is that there is a relatively easy way to understand these terms and differentiate between them.

Hello folks! My name is Lavelle and I am a professional photographer, videographer, and filmmaker. I am also a computer engineering technology graduate and have been delving into RAM for decades.

In this article, I will explain the terms RAM, DRAM, SRAM, and SDRAM. I will also discuss the differences between these terms and give you some specifications to view.

Key Takeaways

  • SRAM is an on-chip memory whose access time is small while DRAM is an off-chip memory that has a large access time.
  • DRAM is available in larger storage capacity while SRAM is of smaller size.
  • SRAM is more expensive and DRAM is normally cheaper.

What is RAM

RAM is an acronym that stands for random access memory. RAM is the main memory on your computer system. It allows your system to store data for short-term access.

It’s important to understand that RAM is a volatile component, which simply means it is not meant to retain data. There are basically two types of RAM: Static Random Access Memory (SRAM) and Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM).

What is DRAM

DRAM or Dynamic Random Access Memory is constantly changing (dynamic) data that is stored in capacitors. The capacitors gradually discharge energy. When the energy is exhausted, the memory can be lost.

To prevent the loss of data in DRAM, the capacitors must be constantly refreshed. If the refresh doesn’t take place, then the capacitors drain, and data is lost.

What is SRAM

SRAM or static random access memory is stored in transistors and requires a constant (static) source of power. There is no need to refresh SRAM since it is always connected to a flow of power.

SRAM is much faster than DRAM and has more storage capacity. It also requires less power to function.

What is SDRAM

There is also one other type of memory called SDRAM. This is synchronous dynamic random access memory. SDRAM uses a system clock to coordinate or synchronize the memory access. 

This allows the computer (CPU) to know the exact cycle number of the available data of the random access memory (RAM). It also allows the computer to know the input and output bus to improve the read and write speed of the memory.

What is the Difference Between DRAM and SRAM

The following table shows a comparison between DRAM and SRAM.

CapacityLower bits per chipHigher bits per chip
MemoryMain memoryCache memory
DensityHighly denseLess dense
Power ConsumptionLessMore
PriceCheaperMore expensive
  • Speed: DRAM is typically slower than SRAM primarily because it has lower bits per chip and is used in the main memory.
  • Capacity: DRAM has lower bits per chip while SRAM has higher bits per chip.
  • Memory: The DRAM is used in the computer’s main memory bank while the SRAM is used in the computer’s cache memory bank.
  • Density: DRAM is highly dense and SRAM is less dense than DRAM.
  • Latency: DRAM has a lower latency of about 2.25 while SRAM is at about 3.43.
  • Power Consumption: DRAM uses less power than SRAM.
  • Price: DRAM is much cheaper than SRAM.

Final Thoughts

The DRAM versus SRAM with a touch of SDRAM is a continual and normal discussion. The reality is that DRAM is a product of SRAM and was developed to remedy some of the problems with SRAM. The memory elements were reduced which has also reduced the DRAM cost while increasing its storage capacity. 

However, DRAM is a much slower element that consumes more power and needs constant refreshing to retain charges. 

Does your computer use SRAM or DRAM? Have you noticed any functional differences? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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