Originally published at: http://www.howtogeek.com/171872/why-does-ram-have-to-be-volatile/
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In short it can't work both ways. Well it can but that NVRAM is considerably slower, gets hotter, uses more energy and he'res the kicker. Is way more expensive to produce.. It'd essentially be like using your thumbdrive as ram it'd make everything miserably slow. and we're talking 386 PC slow.
I wonder if you could do a split type setup, where you could have a flash type RAM in conjunction with volatile RAM where the more persistent and less modified portion that's used in RAM would be on the flash and the constantly changing would be in volatile. I mean, take Windows (please!), the majority of it resides in RAM but does not get changed, it's there just as reference for how everything else is handled, right?
And that would mean that to restart your PC you'd have to format your RAM.
That is just plain stupid.
Sorry, not a hardware genius, and it's been a looong week. Just thought there could be someway to keep what's always used (like the O/S) constantly available and not have to reload it every time you boot. I mean, look at how Linux runs. In every instance I've seen, it loads faster (is it less code, handled differently or what?) and can reside (in some setups) entirely in RAM, and still can load as fast or faster than Windows. It just seems like there should be a hardware way to duplicate that.
Well, no, he has a point, and it's exactly what we are already doing with the BIOS. It is non-volatile memory that was originally designed as a low-function bootstrap facility, capable of just enough function to get the computer started (load the OS and branch to it).
Modern BIOS facilities do a lot more (RAID, security elements, boot order, and a host of other tasks). It is quite easy to migrate system specific read-only functions and data into that environment - at the expense of generality of the BIOS. Functions placed there would, ideally, be used by any OS the machine is designed to host, and/or there would be a proliferation of OS-specific BIOS products. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I suspect the manufacturers would not find that approach to be financially viable.
Furthermore, OS updates would have to use non-volatile memory modification techniques, such as are currently used for BIOS updates, to install the changes. Without going into detail, such changes are currently risky, slow, and energy-consuming.
Bottom line: Doable, but probably not worth the effort financially or from a usability standpoint.
Shame on me - my argument was based on current technology, and of course new developments can change the equation drastically. Let's see where THIS one goes from here ...
I'm looking forward to this. It makes sense to me because it is more in line with how a electro-chemical brain works. Our neurons not only store long-term memory, but also handle the short-term. Now if only we could find a way to have a single component operate as a memristor and a transistor all in one single compact cell, but at speeds far exceeding the chemical processing of our comparatively slow neurons...
Now that's interesting!
You know what they say, ask and ye shall receive!
Thanks @johnsen that looks (if I'm reading right) pretty much like what I was thinking (although I didn't realize it would take a new twist in Tech)(but isn't that what Tech is all about?)
I was actually envisioning something along the lines of what @johnsen was describing. Of course I'm running on 2 day's with no sleep and very little in the last few days prior, so my mind could be playing tricks on me and it's just a Déjà vu type remembering.
But if that works the way it looks like it's going to, and doesn't drive temps up with the power needed to switch states, that looks very nice!
I'll have to go back to their site and read more later when I've gotten some sleep, but, you don't happen to know why they keep talking 64 Mb do you? I'm pretty sure I'm missing something there. Like I said earlier, I'm not really hardware (except as a Tinker).