Have you ever looked at the specs for a computer and felt like you were reading another language? Gigahertz (GHz), Gigabytes (GB) and Terabytes (TB) are common terms in computer advertisements, but what do they mean to a person in the real world. Lets get behind the numbers to find out what they really mean and why you need them.
Random-Access Memory (RAM) is a form of computer data storage which allows the information to be accessed by the Central Processing Unit (CPU). This memory is reset each time the computer is turned off. By increasing the amount of RAM in your computer, you allow it to work faster by reducing the need of the CPU to access information on the hard drive, which is read at a much slower rate than the RAM. Typical sizes of RAM on new computers range from 1GB on the lowest end computer, to around 8GB on the most optimized models.
In addition to RAM storage that is erased every time the computer is turned off, every computer also has storage that isnt erased where all necessary programs, documents, and operating information is stored. This storage is called the hard drive. Hard drives are much larger than RAM because the amount of long-term storage necessary is much larger than short term. For example, a computer is required to have 16GB of hard drive space available for Windows 7 alone. To give an idea of how much storage some of these hard drives hold, a large high resolution photo can easily take 2 to 3 megabytes of space. A two hour movie will take about 2GB, whereas 1TB is about the same amount of information as all the books of a large library, or around 1,610 CDs worth of data. Drives range from around 40GB for a lowly computer to a massive 2TB, which could store the contents of two large libraries.
The clock speed is a measure of how quickly a computer conducts basic computations and operations. The clock speed is measured in megahertz (MHz), which is a million cycles per second, and gigahertz (GHz), which is one billion cycles per second. Where clock speed is often debated is between different chip makers whose 1GHz always tends to vary slightly. It is important to research the differences between the chipmakers to find out how they stack up against each another.
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