What Is Cache Memory?

Cache Memory

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

The cache memory operates in a similar way to the Main Memory of the CPU, but with a higher speed despite being much smaller. Its efficiency provides the microprocessor with extra time to access the most frequently used data, without having to trace it to its place of origin whenever it is necessary.

Thus, this alternate memory is located between the CPU and the RAM ( Random Access Memory, that is, Random Access Memory ), and provides an additional boost in time and saving of resources to the system. Hence its name, which in English means “hideout”.

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

  • Disk cache. It is a portion of RAM associated with a particular disk, were recently accessed data is stored to speed up it’s loading.
  • Track cache. Similar to RAM, this type of solid cache used by supercomputers are powerful but expensive.
  • Web cache. It deals with storing the data of recently visited web pages, with speeding up their successive loading and save bandwidth. This type of cache, in turn, can work for a single user (private), several users at the same time (shared) or together for the entire network managed by a server (on the gateway).

How does the cache work?

Cache Memory
The cache memory 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 is immediately created in the cache memory, so that the subsequent accesses to said information have it to hand and should not be traced back to its place of origin.

Thus, accessing the copy and not the original saves processing time and therefore speed since the microprocessor does not have to go all the time to the main memory. Let us say so. It is a constantly updated working copy of the most frequently used data.

Clearing the cache does not erase your files.

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

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

Advantages of clearing the cache

The liberation of the cache memory fulfils two fundamental purposes, such as:

  • Delete old or unnecessary data (since we don’t always use the same data in the system), such as old files or processes that we won’t need again, but that is stored there “just in case” to speed up their execution.
  • Speed ​​up and speed up the system by giving you new free space to copy data in current use, shortening processing times.

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

If we delete it continuously, the data stored there will have to 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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