What is Cache Memory? Cache Memory Explained

What is cache memory? Cache memory is a high-speed static random access memory, often referred to as CPU memory. This SRAM can be accessed by a computer microprocessor far quicker than the regular random access memory (RAM) to store program instructions and data for repeated use.

This data is usually integrated into a CPU chip or can also be integrated to the CPU by means of a separate chip with an independent bus interconnect. The entire purpose of cache memory is to store information and instructions that will allow the CPU to react faster. This computer processor is capable of accessing information from cache rather than taking it from the computer’s main memory.

In short, cache memory is a memory shortcut to the most frequently used commands required in the smooth running of your computer device. Think of it as an automatic quick-access function for your daily tasks on a computer.

This process allows your device to use pre-stored commands to achieve user requirements, it speeds up your computer as it does not need to enter the time-consuming process of retrieving or data from the main hub, or better yet, it doesn’t need to create a command from scratch.

This intelligence is built up with frequent usage of certain programmes; in fact most programs do not make use of the computer’s resources but rely heavily on cache memory. This is why computer setups with slower processors and larger cache perform faster than those with faster processors and smaller cache.

Managed tiering in the form of multi-level or multi-tier caching allows for desktop systems to provide greater efficiency; in other words commands that are used less frequently are stored lower down on the cache level or tier; allowing for speedier commands for the most commonly used programs.

What is cache memory mapping?

Apart from separating cache memory into tiers, cache can also be mapped into different configurations, these include:

  • Direct mapped cache: where each block mapped has only one memory location – an exact location.
  • Fully associative cache mapping: similar to direct mapped cache but also allows a block of cache to be mapped in any location.
  • Set associative cache mapping: this is the balance between direct mapped cache and fully associative cache mapped; it is sometimes referred to as the N-way set associative mapping.

What happens if I delete my cache memory?

Deleting or clearing your cache memory will wipe your computer clean of all the repeated tasks you perform on your device. You can choose not to clear memory such as logins and credentials, bank details and so on; but memory attained to tasks performed or for example websites visited on a browser, will be cleared. There is also a process of clearing all cache memory, including passwords and sensitive details – this might come in handy if you are selling a device or changing users.