What is cache memory?

We explain what cache memory is and what types exist. Also, how it works and what are the advantages of this alternate memory.

  1. What is cache memory?

In computing , it is known as  cache memory  or quick access memory to one of the resources that a CPU has ( Central  Processing Unit , that is, Central Processing Unit) to temporarily store recently processed data in a special buffer, it is say, in an auxiliary memory. 

The cache operates similarly to the Main Memory of the CPU, but with greater speed despite being much smaller. Its effectiveness provides the microprocessor with extra time to access the most frequently used data , without having to track them to their place of origin whenever they are needed.

Thus, this alternate memory is located between the CPU and the RAM ( Random  Access Memory , that is, Random Access  Memory ), and provides an additional push in time and resource savings to the system. Hence its name, which in English means “hiding place”.

There are several types of cache memory, such as the following:

  • Disk cache . It is a portion of RAM associated with a particular disk, where recent access data is stored to speed up its loading.
  • Cache track . Similar to RAM, this type of solid cache used by supercomputers is powerful, but expensive.
  • Web cache . It takes care of storing the data of the recently visited Web pages , to speed up its successive load and save bandwidth. This type of cache in turn can work for a single user (private), several users at once (shared) or together for the entire network managed by a server (gateway).
  1. How does the cache work?

The cache allows access to a copy of data and not the originals.

The operation of this alternate memory is simple: when we access any data in our computerized system, a copy of the most relevant data in the cache is immediately created, so that the following accesses to that information have it hand and should not trace it to its place of origin.

Thus, by accessing the copy and not the original, it saves processing time and therefore speed, since the microprocessor should not go all the time to the main memory. It is, let’s say so, a constantly updated working copy of the most frequently used data.

  1. Clear cache does not delete your files

Clearing the cache does not alter the information on the hard disk.

Like all memories, the cache can be filled or have such disorganized data that the process of verifying if any requested data is available in cache is delayed: a procedure that all microprocessors routinely carry out. This can slow the machine, producing an effect totally contrary to the one sought. Or, it can also cause copying or reading errors from the cache.

Whatever the case, you can clear the cache manually , asking the system to free up the alternate space and refill it as necessary. This operation does not alter the content of our information on the hard disk at all, much less in our email or social media accounts . It is a working copy, and deleting it leaves us in front of the original, identical but in another location.

  1. Advantages of clearing the cache

It is advisable to clear the cache with some periodicity.

The cache memory release serves two fundamental purposes, such as:

  • Delete old or unnecessary data (since we do not always use the same data in the system), such as old files or processes that we will not need again but are stored there “just in case” to speed up their execution.
  • Accelerate and streamline the system by providing new free space to copy data in current use, shortening processing times.

This maintenance work must be done with a certain periodicity, which however should not be exaggerated, as we would be preventing the cache memory from fulfilling its task.

If we delete it continuously, the data stored there must be searched and copied again from its original location, which translates into a greater need for processing time for each program.

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