Virtual RAM : what it is? and How does it works on your smartphone?

Virtual RAM

However, if you observe smartphone launches over the last 6 months in India. Then you have a good chance to heard the terms Virtual RAM, Dynamic RAM expansion and Extended RAM. More than 90% of people are buying smartphone because of RAM. RAM is something that every smartphone comes with and more people are aware of. But, the word like extended RAM or Virtual RAM are almost new. And here we will try and explain what it is, how it works. Also read : Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 5 Pro With AMD Ryzen 5000 Series Processors Launched In India

All the introductory terms are the same on Android. Nevertheless, things can change depending on how you trigger the feature and how much the brand limits it.

In one week, realme will announce two new smartphone realme 8i 5G and realme 8s 5G. Which comes with an 8 GB of original RAM and 5 GB additional virtual RAM capacity total count 13 GB of RAM. Dynamic RAM Expansion is Realme’s marketing term for Virtual RAM.

Correspondingly, Reame Narzo 30 5G and IQOO also uses the “dynamic RAM expansion”. In this article, we will try to understand exactly what Virtual RAM is and everything you need to know about Virtual RAM on your smartphone.

On just handful of devices, going forward, this feature could become an essential part of most smartphones in India, So, before it goes into the mainstream, here’s what you need to know about Virtual RAM. Also read : Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro With Up To 30h Total Battery Life Launched In India For Rs. 2999

What is Virtual RAM? 

Virtual RAM

However, to understand the Virtual RAM concept, you first need to understand what is RAM?. RAM on your smartphone is a vaporous memory that is quicker than any other type of storage. When you open the app on the phone, it will be called a process. And these processes (multiple apps) will be store on the physical RAM in the background. RAM allows you to load apps quicker without much lag or delay.

A forementioned, virtual RAM actually uses the phone’s internal storage as temporary RAM 一popularly known as Virtual RAM.

In simple words, Virtual RAM is a feature where a portion of your phone’s internal memory will be use as additional RAM. Which effectively increases the total amount of RAM on your smartphone. As the name suggests, this is a “virtual” RAM. Which means the amount of extended RAM is not physically present as RAM on your smartphone as RAM. Also read : Redmi 10 Prime With MediaTek Helio G88 Processer Launched In India

For example, if the phone has 6GB RAM and 128GB storage and you are extending 5GB RAM. Then, you will now have 11GB RAM and about 123 GB internal storage.

the smartphone featuring the Virtual RAM in India

How does it work?

Virtual RAM

You probably heard the term Linux, this feature is commonly use in pc. Now, the developers are use this technology in smartphone to expand the RAM capacity. However, previously we had to get the root access to extent the memory. But, now it is a lot more simple-一 just on/off switch and you’re getting more RAM. Moreover, the amount of RAM you can extend depends on the device and for now, we’ve seen from 1GB to up to 7GB of extended RAM.

When you on switch of the virtual memory feature on your smartphone. The phone actually grants the amount of memory you’ve selected as virtual. But to assign the space in the internal storage, you will have to restart the phone. For instance, the 8GB configuration of the realme 8i 5G and realme 8s 5G supports an extension of 5GB, taking the total up to 13GB.

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Now, let’s see how this feature actually works in real life. Firstly, if you extend RAM, you won’t see a bump in the amount of RAM use by the system 一 while the storage is allocate to Virtual RAM, your physical RAM will be of the same capacity. 

Let’s take an example. You have an Android device with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal memory. With the Virtual RAM feature, a part of the 128GB storage, consider 2GB for instance, will be specifically allocated to be used as RAM. Now the total effective RAM on your device will be 8GB (6GB + 2GB) with a storage space of 126GB.

Now, Virtual RAM will not directly be use as an extension of the RAM. In the begining, the reason Phone RAM and Phone Storage are different components is because RAM is an extremely fast volatile memory with the primary function of rapid but temporary reads and writes. Whereas the internal memory is slightly slower but holds data for a longer or almost permanent duration. This way, more number applications can be stored in RAM and kept ready for usage on request by the user.

In Virtual RAM technology for Android, the Android operating system will prioritize the applications stored in RAM. Important and demanding applications like games, video players, will be given importance and placed in the regular RAM for faster access. Whereas less important applications will be shifted to the virtual RAM memory. Android device manufacturers optimize the usage of virtual RAM for efficient management of apps on the physical RAM. Also read : Coocaa Coolita OS 1.0 Smart TV OS Launched With S3U Pro 32″ TV In India

What are the benefits of using virtual memory?

Following are the advantages to using virtual memory

  • Mainly, it can control twice as many addresses as main memory.
  • Enables more applications to be used at once.
  • It frees applications from managing shared memory and saves users from having to add memory modules when RAM space runs out.
  • Increased speed when only a portion of a program is needed for execution.
  • It has increased security because of memory isolation.
  • Enables multiple larger applications to run simultaneously.
  • Allocating memory is relatively inexpensive.
  • It does not need external fragmentation.
  • CPU use is effective for managing logical partition workloads.
  • Data can be moved automatically.
  • Pages in the original process can be shared during a fork system call operation that creates a copy of itself.

Additionally, in a virtualized computing environment, administrators can use virtual memory management techniques to provide additional memory to a virtual machine (VM) that has run out of resources. Such virtualization management tactics can improve VM performance and management flexibility.

The history of virtual memory

 Lets talk about the history of virtual RAM, Before virtual memory was appear, computers had RAM and secondary memory. Early computers has a magnetic core memory for primary memory and magnetic drums for their secondary memory. As computer programs grew in size and complexity, developers had to worry that their programs would use up all of a computer’s main memory and run out of memory.

In those early days, programmers use a process called overlaying to run programs that were larger than obtainable memory. Parts of a program that were not continually in use were set up as overlays that, when needed, would overwrite the existing overlay in memory. It required extensive programming to make overlaying work. And that was a key impetus for the development of automated virtual memory.

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German physicist Fritz-Rudolf Güntsch has been credited with developing the concept of virtual memory in 1956 . Though this point has been contested. Güntsch did, however, end up describing a form of cache memory.

However, the first apparent real illustration of a virtual memory system came from the University of Manchester in Manchester, England. This in its attempt to develop a one-level storage system for the Atlas computer. The system used paging to map virtual addresses to a programmer onto the primary memory. Atlas was developed in 1959 and later commissioned in 1962.

In 1961, the first commercial computer with virtual memory was release by the Burroughs Corp. This version of virtual memory used segmentation, as opposed to paging.

In 1969, IBM researchers exhibit that virtual memory overlay systems worked better than the earlier manual systems. Up until this point, there was still a debate over this. Mainframes and minicomputers in the 1970s generally used virtual memory. Virtual memory technology was not include in early PCs. Because developers thought running out of memory would not be a problem in those machines. That assumption proved incorrect. Intel introduced virtual memory in the protected mode of the 80286 processor in 1982. And paging support when the 80386 came out in 1985. Also read : Realme GT Neo 2 With 6.62-Inch FHD+ 120Hz AMOLED Display Certified


Why is it coming to smartphones only now?

As mentioned earlier, this technology isn’t very new as we’ve seen before having root access on PCs and smartphones. It’s fairly old technology and now users want more RAM on smartphones. Because they are use heavier apps and play games on their smartphones.

A few years ago, 4GB was enough but apps have now become much larger and resource-intensive. Since adding more RAM through hardware route is difficult and expensive. Virtual RAM is an easier way for brands to provide user with more memory without incurring additional costs. Also read : Boult Audio AirBass Encore With Up To 36h Total Battery Life Launched

Like 5G on smartphones, this will also help prove the device in the future. With apps like Chrome and games like “PUBG : New State Battel Royal” take up a lot of memory, every bit of RAM will come in handy. Also, it’d help when it comes with 4K video recordings and AR apps. Which are all expected to go mainstream in the coming years. This is more like giving headspace into what users can do in the next few years.

Is it more useful on budget or premium devices?

While there is no difference in implementation, it will be the phones with less memory. That will use the most use of Virtual RAM — which will usually be budget devices. 

Can Virtual RAM be extended via OTA update?

Yes, smartphone OEMs can add RAM extension functionality through software update. However, it’s not as easy as flipping a switch and calls for a lot of testing and optimization.

Will the type of internal storage used on phones affect the Virtual RAM performance? 

While the on-paper difference may be large in things like UFS 2.1 and UFS 3.1 storage. Neither of them come close to how fast actual RAM is. And since only low-priority, compresse processes are push towards Virtual RAM, the perceivable performance differences are likely to be small. Also read : Google Pixel 6 Series Could Launch A Day Before Apple Introduce The IPhone 13 Series.

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