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What Is The Difference Between Primary and Secondary Memory?2 min read

What is Primary and Secondary Memory in Computer?

by TechABU
What is Primary and Secondary Memory

One of the crucial and necessary parts of every computer system is computer memory. It serves as an electronic repository for data and instructions that computers can access.

Computer memory is used to temporarily or permanently store data or applications for execution in a computer.

The computer’s CPU uses memory continuously from the moment the user turns the Computer on until it shuts off. Storage, or the physical media that holds considerable amounts of data for future use is frequently separated from memory. Primary Memory is a volatile memory.

There are two main types of computer memory:

  • Primary/Main/Internal Memory
  • Secondary/Auxiliary/Backing Storage Memory

#1. Main Memory:

Main Memory is sometimes called “Internal Memory” or “Primary Memory.”  The part of the computer where data and processing instructions are stored in the main memory.

Internal memory in computers is used to execute programs, including the operating system, and to store data that the system needs to start up.

Internal memory is typically contained on tiny microchips connected or attached to the computer’s motherboard. Computer memory can range from a couple of megabytes to several gigabytes.

Even though it is closely related to the CPU, it is actually distinct from it. Software that users load from a storage device is initially stored in the main memory before being executed by the CPU. The main memory is accessed by the CPU to process the programs.

Integrated semiconductor circuits are the basis of the technology that powers the main memory.

Types of Primary Memory

Fundamentally Main or Primary memory is classified into three types:

  1. Internal Processor Memory
  2. Random Access Memory (RAM)
  3. Read Only Memory (ROM)

RAM and ROM are already discussed on our websites, although the Internal Processor Memory will be covered on our website shortly.

#2. Secondary Memory:

Secondary storage is sometimes termed “Auxiliary,” “Backing Storage,” or “External Storage.” Data or information is stored permanently in secondary storage. It lies outside the CPU.

The computer typically accesses secondary storage through its input/output channels and transfers the required data utilizing the intermediary area in primary storage. Since secondary storage is non-volatile memory, data is not lost when the computer is turned off.

Hard Disk Drives (HDD), CD, DVD, Blue Ray Disk, Flash Memory, and Memory Cards are a few types of secondary storage devices.

Types of Secondary Memory

~ Characteristics of Secondary Storage:

Following are a few characteristics of secondary storage:

  • They are non-volatile as the data is not lost when the power goes off.
  • The capacity of these devices is very high. It goes to terabytes and can permanently store large data like videos, images, audio, files, etc.
  • They are cost-effective as compared to the main memory.
  • Some auxiliary devices are portable. As a result, we can effortlessly save or transfer data from one computer or device to another.

Difference Between Primary and Secondary Memory

Primary MemorySecondary Memory
Primary Memory is also known as Main or Internal Memory.Secondary Memory is also known as Auxiliary, Backing Storage, or External Storage Memory.
Primary Memory is a volatile memory.Secondary Memory is non-volatile memory.
Main Memory is directly accessible by the Processor.The CPU can’t directly access it.
Integrated semiconductor circuits are the basis of the technology that powers the main memory.These types of memory are based on magnetic tapes and optical memories.
These types of memories are costly.Secondary memory storage is less expensive.
Examples of these types of memories are RAM, ROM, and Internal Processor Memory.Examples of these types of Memories are HDD, CD, DVD, Pen Drives, etc.

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