What is unbuffered memory?

There are two main types of random access memory (RAM); are buffered memory – or registered memory – and unbuffered memory, also known as unregistered memory. Unbuffered memory is faster, more common, and considerably cheaper to buy than buffered memory. As such, these unregistered forms of memory are the type of module found in almost all home desktops and laptops. Buffered memory is more expensive than unbuffered memory and is also slower due to the way it handles data storage and retrieval. Buffered memory is, however, much more stable than unbuffered forms, so it is primarily used in mainframe computers and network servers.

A RAM card.

Unbuffered memory is by far the most common form of computer memory module in everyday use. These memory modules are inexpensive to produce compared to buffered memory modules, in part because of their common use in home and business computers, and also because there is less hardware used. In an unbuffered memory module, there is no built-in hardware way to act as an instruction register between the RAM chip and the computer’s memory controller. This results in a faster operating speed, but an increased risk of a critical memory leak error occurring due to the random nature of information placement and retrieval, especially during periods of intense activity.

Unbuffered RAM is cheaper to buy and install than buffered RAM.

More commonly referred to as registered memory is buffered memory. Unbuffered memory strangely retains its name and has not been changed to unregistered memory. Buffered memory differs from the unbuffered type in that it has a hardware register that stores information in a cache for one clock cycle of the memory chip. While this operation may result in a slower execution time for the memory chip, it provides additional stability and a reduced risk of errors or memory corruption.

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In general home use, the speed difference between the two types of memory module seems negligible. It is during periods of intensive information transfer that the latency experienced by using the registry becomes apparent. Buffered memory is commonly used in server computers and mainframe systems to provide stability and protection against corruption that can occur in unbuffered modules when they are subject to continuous intensive use. While buffered modules are more expensive and generally slower in operation, memory stability and data security more than make up for it in a commercial environment.

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