Here in this article, we will learn about what is Virtual RAM and how does it work on (Android) smartphones?
What is Virtual RAM?
Virtual RAM, also known as swap space or paging file, is a term used to describe additional memory that is not physically installed on a device but is used when needed. Unlike permanent storage, such as internal storage, Virtual RAM is a high-speed component responsible for temporarily storing data. It operates faster than long-term storage options like eMMC or UFS 3.1 and is specifically designed for storing temporary data. While internal storage holds permanent data like images and videos, virtual RAM remembers the status of opened apps and recent activities. Increasing the amount of RAM enables a higher number of background apps and faster reopening of recent apps with minimal lag or delay.
To put it simply, it is a combination of both the physical RAM and a portion of the device’s hard drive or solid-state drive (SSD) that is allocated to a cat as additional memory when the physical RAM is insufficient, thereby expanding tha available memory capacity.
How does virtual memory work?
Virtual memory operates by combining the physical RAM with disk space through a temporary process called swapping. The RAM on a computer stores operating system data, runs programs and opens documents, but when it becomes limited, virtual memory transfers data from RAM to a designated area known as a paging file. This frees up RAM for the computer to complete tasks.
Sometimes, users may receive a notification indicating low virtual memory. This suggests the need to add more RAM or increase the size of the paging file. Operating systems like Windows typically handle this process automatically, but it can also be manually adjusted if the default virtual memory size is insufficient.
What is Virtual RAM in a phone?
Virtual RAM is now becoming more common in smartphones, although it has been widely used in PCs for a while. This feature is advertised with different terms by phone manufacturers, but essentially it refers to the same concept. Android devices have three types of memory: RAM, internal storage, and zRAM. ZRAM is a partition within RAM that stores low-priority compressed data in the background, freeing up space in RAM for foreground apps. There are two types of pages: clean pages, which store unmodified data, and dirty pages, which store modified data.
Clean pages can be cleared from RAM when resources are not needed. For example, social media apps like Facebook are stored as clean pages, while music streaming apps and YouTube use dirty pages. Virtual RAM uses internal storage as a swap partition similar to zRAM. It allows budget phones with limited physical RAM to expand their virtual RAM capacity, but it doesn’t increase the amount of physical RAM on the device.
Is Virtual RAM beneficial for your phone?
The Virtual RAM feature is primarily found on entry-level smartphones due to their limited RAM capacities, allowing them to leverage storage space for additional memory. Flagship devices, already equipped with ample RAM, typically do not include this feature. It’s important to note that using internal storage for virtual RAM involves frequent reading and writing operations, which can negatively impact the lifespan of the flash memory. Therefore, while Virtual RAM expands memory capacity on budget phones, its usage may be limited on high-end devices to preserve storage longevity.
Virtual RAM may not be as beneficial for high-end smartphones that already have ample physical RAM. The usage of internal storage for virtual RAM involves frequent reading and writing, which can impact the lifespan of the storage. Therefore, its usage may be limited to preserve storage longevity.
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