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Memory refresh

Memory refresh definition

Memory refresh refers to a process where data stored in temporary memory, specifically in dynamic random-access memory (DRAM), is regularly rewritten or refreshed to ensure that it doesn't disappear or get corrupted over time. In DRAM, data is stored in capacitors, which can leak charge and cause the data to degrade over time. To prevent this degradation, the computer's memory controller regularly reads and rewrites the data in the memory cells, helping maintain the integrity of the stored data.

See also: memory cache, memory allocation

Memory refresh benefits:

  • Preserving data. Regular refreshing ensures that the stored data, like opened files or running applications, isn't lost.
  • Reducing data corruption. Renewing the electrical charges that represent data, the risk of data corruption is minimized.
  • Consistent system performance. Computers rely on accurate data retrieval. So, regular refresh processes help prevent unexpected system behaviors.
  • Protecting physical hardware. It also can prolong the usable life of DRAM chips.

Memory refresh drawbacks:

  • Delay in data access. Each refresh cycle introduces a tiny delay during which data cannot be accessed.
  • Reduced overall throughput. Memory modules can't perform other tasks during the refresh.
  • Battery drain. The constant refreshing, especially in high-capacity DRAM modules, can be a significant energy consumer.
  • Maintenance. The additional components needed for the memory refresh require more maintenance.