What is RAM?

When configuring a spo-comm Mini-PC, among other things, the amount of memory respectively RAM can be selected. But what is RAM actually and what is its function in the PC?

What is RAM?

The abbreviation "RAM" stands for "random access memory”. In this type of memory access to each memory cell is possible, while other species, such as Flash only stores in blocks. Unlike the hard drive RAM is a volatile (semiconductor) memory. This means as soon as the power is turned off, all data is lost.

While hard drives can store large amounts of data over a long time, RAM stores small amounts for a short time. At the same time it works at a much higher speed: The read and write operation is up to 250 times faster than SSDs, access times up to 120,000 times faster. Due to its speed RAM is usually used as the main memory. Therefore, the two terms are used interchangeably.

The store is located in the form of chips on the RAM modules. Therefore more gigabytes of RAM mean more memory chips on the RAM module. In general, the modules now have 2 up to 64 gigabytes of memory.

What does the memory?

The RAM serves as a short-term buffer for the CPU. In the memory the operating system, web browser and other data on which changes or calculations are performed, are cached. The processor loads, for example, text, images and videos in the RAM, so that they can be viewed and edited quickly. Only when saving the data is backed up on the hard drive or SSD.

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3 Aug 2016 Array ( [id] => 196 [title] => What’s new? From 4K@60 Hz up to DDR4 memory [authorId] => [active] => 1 [shortDescription] => With this entry we launch our new column in which we introduce trends and innovations in the IT world. Here and there we also want to have a look behind the scenes of spo-comm. In August we start with even smaller Mini-PCs, 4K@60Hz resolution and DDR4 memory. [description] =>

Small, smaller, the smallest: Mini-PCs shrink from day to day

In the near future a couple of Mini-PCs will be launched, which are again considerably smaller than previous models at a comparable performance. Thanks to new production technologies not only the size of major components, such as CPUs,  are reduced, they will also consume less power. This allows smaller fans or heat sinks and consequently smaller housings. The downside: There is less room for connections.

Now even sharper: 4K@60Hz

With new systems the standards HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2 and higher are introduced increasingly. Thereby, many models of Mini-PCs for the digital signage market can easily display UHD movies and animations.

New storage technology: DDR4

From 2017, new PCs will be equipped with DDR4 memories. In addition to the higher clock speed, the maximum storage capacity of the RAM modules increases too. Mini-PCs from the mid- to high-performance class can therefore address up to 32 gigabytes of memory.

No more unplugged cables: Mount your digital connectors

Connectors which are exposed to mechanical influences can easily get lost without additional security. Therefore, the traditional DB9, DVI and VGA connectors are still popular because they can easily be secured with two screws. With newer standards this is slightly more difficult since in certain design guidelines a security option was rarely taken into account. With the USB port this is changing now – for the type C standard the first screw-plugs have been defined. spo-comm also tries to offer secure connections for as many systems and connectors as possible.  For Instance: Various systems are already equipped with screw-mode power supplies.

spo-book WINDBOX II Quad: Now with 4 GB RAM

The WINDBOX II Quad is the first spo-comm PC that is from now on equipped with 4 gigabytes of memory as standard. The price stays the same.

Tablet support rises: Consistent Windows licenses

Not only in the field of consumer devices (for instance Microsoft Surface Pro), but also in commercial environments tablets or handheld devices are increasingly offered with a full Microsoft operating system. The advantage is obvious: Separate apps do not need to be developed. Instead, the ERP or CRM systems used in the enterprise can be installed and used directly.

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know-how
What’s new? From 4K@60 Hz up to DDR4 memory
With this entry we launch our new column in which we introduce trends and innovations in the IT world. Here and there we also want to have a look behind the scenes of spo-comm. In August we start with even smaller Mini-PCs, 4K@60Hz resolution and DDR4 memory.
17 May 2016 Array ( [id] => 188 [title] => What is the difference between HDD and SSD? [authorId] => [active] => 1 [shortDescription] => All spo-books can be configured as desired and can be ordered with an HDD or SSD. This brings many customers to the scratch which choice is the best for them: The standard 500 gigabyte sized HDD or the more expensive SSD? We want to bring a little light into the darkness. [description] =>

What means HDD?

The term HDD stands for “hard disk drive”. For simplicity it is often referred to as a hard drive. An HDD is composed of many mechanical parts. In the storage process, the data is written on the surface of one or more rotating magnetic platters. Therefore a reading head is moving – similar to a record player – back and forth.

Hard drives have been around since the 50s and are until today often installed by default as a storage medium in PCs. With the emergence of the SSD this has changed. These were in the early days extremely expensive and were only used for very specific applications. Anyway they have now become much more affordable and due to their advantages are increasingly used even at home.

What is an SSD?

The term SSD stands for "Solid State Disk" or "Solid State Drive", which can also be described as a semiconductor memory. An SSD is not mechanical but an electronic memory. Unlike the rotating platters from the HDD you can imagine the SSD like an USB flash drive.

Which advantages can I expect from an SSD?

The probably biggest advantage is that an SSD boots and works much faster because it runs electronically and does not constantly have to move a reading head back and forth. Although it is faster, the SSD has much lower energy consumption than a conventional hard drive. Who wants his PC to run completely silent and therefore chooses a passive cooled system, should also decide for an SSD. Thanks to the absence of moving parts it works without a sound.

But there’s more to come: It is also much more robust, as the mechanical drives of an HDD break  a lot easier if dropped. Likewise it also stands an extended temperature range. Thanks to its ruggedness the SSD is still running, even under concussions or vibration. Hard drives often have the protection mechanism to stop working as soon as the running PC is moved. For instance this could be the case if a laptop is carried around or if a PC is installed in a vehicle, like our MOVE-series. To prevent the reading head from striking the platter, the HDD stops its operation cautionary. With an SSD this cannot happen. Since it has no moving parts, it works without problems even in rough circumstances.

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know-how
What is the difference between HDD and SSD?
All spo-books can be configured as desired and can be ordered with an HDD or SSD. This brings many customers to the scratch which choice is the best for them: The standard 500 gigabyte sized HDD or the more expensive SSD? We want to bring a little light into the darkness.
14 Jun 2016 Array ( [id] => 192 [title] => Should I take an actively cooled or passively cooled Mini-PC? [authorId] => [active] => 1 [shortDescription] => It’s underestimated quite often how important it is to make the right choice regarding the cooling architecture of your Mini-PC. Especially location and operation purpose play an important role here. What you definitely should know in any case about the two different types of cooling and which advantages and disadvantages they bring along, you will learn here. [description] =>

Active Cooling

This option is the most common type of cooling. One speaks of an active cooling of your PC if the hardware is cooled down by a stream of air from one or more ventilators. The faster the rotational speed the cooler the hardware. The air ventilation automatically adapts, thanks to “SmartFan”, to the capacity utilization of the PC and rotates, as necessary, sometimes faster and sometimes slower.

Advantages:

  • Even if the air needs to have some room inside of the computer, in order to circulate properly, actively cooled systems are generally slimmer than fanless systems.
  • You can achieve good cooling results, even with high-performance hardware.
  • It is a cheap solution compared to passively cooled PCs.

Disadvantages:

  • Since the fans are most likely affected by wearing, they have, depending on use, a relatively shorter life.
  • The noise level: Even at low utilization the fan will always be audible.

How do I know if active cooling is the right choice for my purpose?

Mostly active cooling for a PC is useful if the environment of the site allows the warm air to go out in order to prevent heat accumulation. For instance this can happen if an Embedded-PC is mounted in steles, tables or walls.
Also active cooling is useful when processors and graphic cards experience a temperature rise above-average, due to applications which need a lot of hardware resources.

Passive Cooling

First of all the most striking contrast to the active cooling here is that there is no fan used for a passive solution.
Due to heat sinks which are integrated in the systems, like thermally conductive metal, the produced heat is transported to the outside, via lamellar cooling fins on the housing of the computer.

Advantages:

  • Silent working with simultaneous use of an SSD (See: “Shall I go for an HDD or SSD?”).
  • Robustness by massive PC cases and compact constructions.
  • High durability of the systems.
  • Systems are often completely closed and not prone to dust, sawdust and the like.
  • Extended range of temperature.
  • Above mentioned advantages both count for outdoor and vehicle installations.

Disadvantages:

  • Performance of the systems is limited (compared with actively cooled PCs of the same size), since high performance requires a bigger heat sink.
  • The environment has, to a certain degree, to provide thermal discharge in order to prevent heat accumulation.
  • More expensive compared to actively cooled systems.

How do I know if passive cooling is the right choice for my purpose?

There are so many opportunities that we actually don’t really know where to start. Wide application areas are rough environments like factory work rooms, workshops or production facilities since the fanless computers are less prone to dust or similar. Even installations in, for instance, steles, walls or in the open air where it sometimes can be a bit colder than usual, but you nevertheless have to rely on the computer. Not to mention in open-plan offices where every little noise reduction is a boon for the staff, passively cooled systems are always welcome.

Conclusion

If you attach importance to an increased durability and robustness of your product, we recommend to invest some extra cash and to opt for a passively cooled solution. Those who don’t want to lower their sights regarding performance and size of the Mini-PC are well served with the classical actively cooled alternative.

##spo-comm PCs with active cooling

 

##spo-comm PCs with passive cooling

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know-how
Should I take an actively cooled or passively cooled Mini-PC?
It’s underestimated quite often how important it is to make the right choice regarding the cooling architecture of your Mini-PC. Especially location and operation purpose play an important role here. What you definitely should know in any case about the two different types of cooling and which advantages and disadvantages they bring along, you will learn here.