Difference Between Volatile Memory and Non-Volatile Memory

Volatile Memory Vs Non-Volatile Memory

Both volatile and non-volatile memories are types of computer memories. The volatile memory stores data and computer programs that the CPU may need in real-time, and it erases them once a user switches off the computer. Cache memory and RAM are types of Volatile memory. Non-volatile memory, on the other hand, is static. It remains in a computer even after a user switches it off. HDD and ROM are types of non-volatile memory.

What is a Volatile Memory?

Volatile Memory is a type of memory hardware that stores and fetches data at a very high speed. We can also call it a temporary memory. The system stores its data within the volatile memory until its capacity. It then deletes this data automatically as soon as one shuts the system down. The fetching and storing of data are very fast and economical in volatile memory. Some very typical examples of volatile memory are Cache memory and Random Access Memory (RAM).

Volatile memory is a temporary memory because it can only hold the information until the device or the computer runs on power. It loses the stored memory as soon as someone interrupts the power supply. The operating system (OS) loads the memory of RAM. Once the power suddenly switches off, it wipes out everything from RAM. That’s why users need to restart their system and wait for the OS to load so that it could work further on that system.

It is faster than non-volatile memory, and takes minimum time for accessing the system files. Volatile memory has several uses, being the primary source of memory. It can protect sensitive data because it becomes unavailable once someone interrupts the power. Data transfer is not very easy with volatile memory, and any processor or device can read it.

What is a Non-Volatile Memory?

Non-volatile memory is a permanent memory. A system does not lose the data and information stored within the memory even after a user shuts down the system or interrupts the power supply. This type of memory is not very economical, and it takes time to fetch and store data. But it can store higher volumes of data. Thus, users can store all the information in a non-volatile memory that they want for an extended amount of time on their device. The most common example of non-volatile memory is ROM (Read Only Memory).

Non-volatile memory affects a system’s capacity to a large extent. It is a type of digital memory that does not lose any content with an interruption of the power supply. One does not need to refresh it periodically. Since the system can easily retrieve the stored data and info even after a user turns the power off and back on, this memory is also called permanent memory. Flash memories, optic discs, hard drives, paper tape, etc., are also a few more examples of non-volatile memory.

People use this kind of memory for secondary storage or a long-term type of persistent storage. An operating system takes more time to load this memory. Thus, it delivers less performance and costs way more than any volatile memory. But it is suitable for storing important data that a user needs with them for a longer time.

Difference Between Volatile Memory and Non-Volatile Memory

Parameter Volatile Memory Non-Volatile Memory
Definition It is a temporary type of computer memory that stores data and information only until it gets a continuous power supply. It is a permanent type of computer memory that stores and retains the data even after a user turns the system off.
Stored Data The volatile memory stores data of those programs that the CPU is processing in real-time. A system stores all the frequently used information and data in the device’s volatile memory. The non-volatile memory stores data from the basic booting process of any computer system BIOS. It stores all the types of data and media that need to exist for a longer time or permanently on the computer.
Effect on Performance Volatile memory does not affect a system’s performance. A higher amount of storage space for cache, RAM, and other volatile memory increases the efficiency of a computer system. Non-volatile memory also affects a system’s performance and storage. A higher amount of storage space lets a user save more data permanently. Thus, the system runs comparatively smoother.
Speed The volatile memory is the fastest form of memory in nature. These memories hold the most frequently used data- and any user can access them quickly. Non-volatile memory is a relatively slower form of memory. The process of accessing data from a non-volatile memory is comparatively slower.
Data Retention It can only retain data until there is a continuous power supply. It retains data and info even after one turns the power supply off.
Data Transfer Transferring data from a volatile memory is very easy. Transferring data from a non-volatile memory is very difficult.
Permanency The information and data in volatile memory are not permanent. The information and data in non-volatile memory are permanent unless deleted.
CPU Access The device’s CPU can easily access the data stored on the Volatile memory. The system needs to copy data to the volatile memory from the non-volatile memory to allow the CPU to access it.
Amount of Storage A volatile memory has a very low capacity. A non-volatile memory, like an HDD, has a very high capacity.
Cost Efficiency Volatile memory is not very cost-efficient. Per unit size is very expensive here. Non-volatile memory is very cheap. Per unit memory is less expensive here.
Reading and Writing In a volatile memory, the process can both read and write. It means that the process would have direct access to the data and information within it. In a non-volatile memory, the process can only read. It means that the processor won’t have direct access to the data and information within.
Position of Memory You can generally find the volatile memory chips on the memory slot. You can generally find the non-volatile memory chips embedded on the motherboard.
Example A few common examples include the cache, RAM of the computer, etc. A few common examples are optical storage discs, hard discs, secondary storage like ROM, flash memory, etc.

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