Associative Memory in Computer Architecture

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  • 0:03 Remembering Differently
  • 0:38 What Is Associative Memory?
  • 1:15 Associative Over…
  • 1:52 Computer's Architecture
  • 2:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Gloag
Computers process the wealth of information we gather each day. Is it any wonder that we're constantly looking for ways to speed that up? In this lesson, we'll take a look at one method for doing this: associative memory.

Remembering Differently

Memory is the heart and soul of a computer system. You can't do anything without it. The company you work for can't figure out your paycheck without it, the servers at Google can't determine the results of your latest query without it, and your cell phone can't play your favorite songs without it.

Is it a wonder that there is a need to create different types of memory? Or, related to that, create memory for different purposes? Certainly not! In fact, it is one of the most important computer hardware research areas today. One in particular, is associative memory.

What Is Associative Memory?

Regular memory is a set of storage locations that are accessed through an address. Think of it like the houses on your street. If you wanted to send a package or letter to your neighbor, you would send it to their address, and it would get stored at their house. Simple, right?

Associative memory is also a set of storage locations, but they work a little differently. Instead of looking up a storage location by its address, it looks up a storage location by its contents. So if you wanted to send that same package or letter to your neighbor, you would send it to the house where your neighbor is actually located, and it would get stored there.

Associative Memory Over Regular Memory

You would use associative memory over regular memory in situations where the speed of recognizing patterns, or performing look ups, makes up the bulk of the processing. Why? Because finding your neighbor's address, then determining the location from the address is slower than determining the location directly from your neighbor. It takes one less step. You don't have to convert the neighbor to an address before finding their location.

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