What is read only memory (ROM) ?

Read-only memory (ROM) is a type of non-volatile memory used in computers and other electronic devices. Data stored in ROM cannot be electronically modified after the manufacture of the memory device. Read only memory is useful for storing software that is rarely changed during the life of the system, also known as firmware. Software applications (like video games) for programmable devices can be distributed as plug-in cartridges containing read-only memory.

Strictly, read-only memory refers to memory that is hard-wired, such as diode matrix or a mask ROM integrated circuit, which cannot be electronically changed after manufacture. Although discrete circuits can be altered in principle, through the addition of bodge wires and/or the removal or replacement of components, integrated circuits (ICs) cannot. Correction of errors, or updates to the software, require new devices to be manufactured and to replace the installed device.

Erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM) and electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM) can be erased and re-programmed, but usually this can only be done at relatively slow speeds, may require special equipment to achieve, and is typically only possible a certain number of times.

The term “ROM” is sometimes used to mean a ROM device containing specific software, or a file with software to be stored in EEPROM or Flash Memory. For example, users modifying or replacing the Android operating system describe files containing a modified or replacement operating system as “custom ROMs” after the type of storage the file used to be written to.

Use for storing data :-

Since ROM (at least in hard-wired mask form) cannot be modified, it is only suitable for storing data which is not expected to need modification for the life of the device. To that end, ROM has been used in many computers to store look-up tables for the evaluation of mathematical and logical functions (for example, a floating-point unit might tabulate the sine function in order to facilitate faster computation). This was especially effective when CPUs were slow and ROM was cheap compared to RAM.

Notably, the display adapters of early personal computers stored tables of bitmapped font characters in ROM. This usually meant that the text display font could not be changed interactively. This was the case for both the CGA and MDA adapters available with the IBM PC XT.

The use of ROM to store such small amounts of data has disappeared almost completely in modern general-purpose computers. However, Flash ROM has taken over a new role as a medium for mass storage or secondary storage of files.

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