How Is Computer Memory Made?


Types of Memory

  • Because certain types of computer memory work in conjunction with other hardware, the need for different circuits and chips are necessary. In modern computers, three types of memory are used: SRAM (for cache/temporary storage), SDRAM (for processor requests) and DDRRAM (a faster version of SDRAM). Each type of memory is unique to the system and controls different computer functions. Regardless, all computer memory is made of fairly similar components, just using different wiring.

How is Memory Made?

  • The production of computer memory is similar to the production of computer chips. The process begins with the creation of a silicon wafer. The wafer is made by pressing liquid silicon crystals into a large thin sheet. After the crystals solidify, the sheet is cut into individual strips based on the type of memory and system. Once the sheet is cut, it is taken through a computer-guided laser system that creates etchings in the board. These etchings work as the "roadways" for the transistors and capacitors in the memory. The transistors and capacitors store and conduct the flow of electrons (electricity) through the various components. After this process is complete, the physical memory modules are added. Each module is created from a silicon material (similar to the base wafer). The modules are soldered to the board, using a series of copper pins. Once the pins are in place, the memory moves on to final protection and testing.

Protection and Testing

  • Because computer memory uses a controlled process of electrical flow, it needs to be protected from outside shock caused by static electricity. To begin the process, the memory is sprayed with a special static-free chemical. Throughout the manufacturing process, the memory is kept in a static-free environment and all workers must use static-free tools and clothing. After the protective layer is added, the testing process can begin. Because computer memory is volatile (meaning that it is very unstable), the testing process can be intensive. To begin, the memory is placed in an empty computer to test its startup functionality. If the memory does not work with the computer on startup, it is determined as faulty and scrapped. If the test is positive, the memory is moved on to the second stage of testing: stress. Ideally, computer memory would only be used when the computer is in use, however, because consumers tend to run their systems for extended amounts of time, an endurance test is performed. Heat testing, liquid testing, time testing, and shut down testing (power outages and hard resets) are administred. Finally, the memory is sealed in a static-free bag and sent to packaging and shipping.

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