by Hamish Krompaszky
how do changes in memory technology lead to innovate computer design?
What is Virtual Memory?
Because this copying happens automatically, you don't even know it is happening, and it makes your computer feel like is has unlimited RAM space even though it only has 32 megabytes installed. Because hard disk space is so much cheaper than RAM chips, it also has a nice economic benefit.
The read/write speed of a hard drive is much slower than RAM, and the technology of a hard drive is not geared toward accessing small pieces of data at a time. If your system has to rely too heavily on virtual memory, you will notice a significant performance drop. The key is to have enough RAM to handle everything you tend to work on simultaneously -- then, the only time you "feel" the slowness of virtual memory is is when there's a slight pause when you're changing tasks. When that's the case, virtual memory is perfect.
When it is not the case, the operating system has to constantly swap information back and forth between RAM and the hard disk. This is called thrashing, and it can make your computer feel incredibly slow.