The Role of Memory
* Lesson 3 - COMPUTER PERFORMANCE AND FEATURES 3.2 - THE
ROLE OF MEMORY  The Role of Memory
When a computer performs a task, it stores data in the memory. The data
that is stored in the memory is internally represented in the form of 0s
and 1s. Each 0 or 1 is called a _bit_. A combination of eight bits is
called a _byte_. The following table explains the various terms used to
measure storage or memory capacity. Scroll down to read each description.
A bit is the smallest unit of information that a computer handles. A
single bit can hold only one of two values, 0 or 1. One of the two values
is always present. A single bit conveys little meaningful information.
However, you can obtain more meaningful information by combining
consecutive bits into larger units.
A byte is a combination of eight bits arranged in a particular sequence.
Each sequence represents a single character, symbol, digit, or letter. A
byte forms the basic unit that is used to measure the storage capacity of a
One kilobyte (KB) is equal to 1,024 bytes. Most of the user data stored
in a computer, such as simple e-mail messages or a text file, occupies
storage space of a few kilobytes.
One megabyte (MB) is equal to 1,024 KB. The amount of information
contained in 1 MB is approximately equal to a complete textbook.
One gigabyte (GB) is equal to 1,024 MB, which is approximately a billion
bytes. Most computers today have hard disks with large capacities that are
measured in gigabytes. A gigabyte denotes a huge storage capacity. For
example, a video film stored on a computer can occupy more than 1 GB of
One terabyte is equal to 1,024 GB, approximately a trillion bytes.
Storage devices having capacities in terabytes are generally used by
organizations that need to store large volumes of data. A terabyte is so
large that a few terabytes of memory space can contain the complete text of
a large number of books.
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