Read-only memory (ROM)


ROM are main memory that is used to store data or instruction that should never change, such as low level component of an operating system.

For instance, a ROM allows boot programs to be shipped installed on the computer.


As the RAM types used for primary storage are volatile (cleared at start up), a computer containing only such storage would not have a source to read instructions from, in order to start the computer.

Hence, non-volatile primary storage containing a small startup program (BIOS) is used to bootstrap the computer, that is, to read a larger program from non-volatile secondary storage to RAM and start to execute it.

A non-volatile technology used for this purpose is called ROM, for read-only memory (the terminology may be somewhat confusing as most ROM types are also capable of random access).

Many types of “ROM” are not literally read only, as updates are possible; however it is slow and memory must be erased in large portions before it can be re-written. Some embedded systems run programs directly from ROM (or similar), because such programs are rarely changed. Standard computers do not store non-rudimentary programs in ROM, rather use large capacities of secondary storage, which is non-volatile as well, and not as costly.



EPROM (Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory) is a kind of ROM that can be erased and reprogrammed.

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