The RAM (Random Access Memory) is responsible for storing the instructions executed by the central processing unit. In other words, it is a drawer accessible at all times by the processor while it does its work. It is an essential element in any computer system, be it a computer or a mobile phone.
It is a cheap component and over the last few years we have seen a memory escalation on Android devices. In fact, for some time we have versions such as the OnePlus 6 or the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 that already has 8GB of RAM, a beastly amount and until recently unthinkable on smartphones.
This enormous amount of memory leads us to wonder about its usefulness and if you really need 8GB of RAM in a mobile. We are going to try to show how we got here and what advantages having so much memory in Android can have.
Take advantage of multitasking
What is RAM for? Mainly to be able to open many things without the processor having to do so much work. RAM is in charge of manage background apps, the more memory we have, the easier it will be to have a thousand applications of all kinds open. Logically, it is not the same to have dozens of simple applications open than to have dozens of heavy applications open such as games, multimedia or simply more complete web pages.
The more open applications, the more memory we will need
Android has always been characterized by enhancing multitasking and therefore RAM is a highly demanded component. A few years ago when we had little memory in the devices, the “Task Killers” became fashionable, fortunately they stopped being used since the system itself already manages these tasks. Now with 8GB of memory we can easily open a thousand Chrome tabs, not worry about playing several titles at the same time and make the most of the multiscreen.
Precisely the multiscreen is another of the aspects that will benefit the most from the 8GB of memory. Right now it seems designed for tablets and computers, but we must see smartphones as miniPCs and so much memory will help us to work with various applications at the same time.
Move heavier games with ease
Today’s games are not what they used to be. In fact, some mobiles have already equaled previous generation consoles in power and Android games are reaching those levels accordingly. We are talking about video games with 3D graphics, dozens of missions and maps and a weight of more than 2GB, it is not surprising that the most powerful smartphones come with 8GB of RAM.
If what we want is to surf or listen to music with a couple of gigabytes of RAM it should be enough, but these graphics consume much more. Imagine that we are playing Asphalt 8 or PUBG and a WhatsApp comes to us, we answer it and then we forget it and we open another game. If we want to quickly access several such complete games, the system requires more memory for this process to be smooth.
RAM can help the GPU move those next-gen games
And beware, we are not just talking about keeping it in the background. The RAM memory could allow us, for example, to activate “modes to play” that reserve RAM for the GPU (VRAM) or for example some system to keep Candy Crush always in the background and to be able to access it quickly whenever we want.
RAM is also responsible for making the system run smoother. But isn’t that the responsibility of the hard drive and the processor? It doesn’t have to. Many manufacturers create a heavier layer of customization but They use RAM to store the launcher and various elements and thus load faster. The animations are already loaded, the widgets are ready … this consumes a lot of RAM which leaves us less room for the rest of the tasks, but since mobiles already come with 4GB or more it is an increasingly common technique.
HTC and its Sense were one of the first to use this on a regular basis. With 8GB of memory we can save all interface in RAM and we will also have left over to use it in the rest of the applications.
Android takes advantage of RAM in many ways, with 8GB we can have entire interfaces available
Android is now also a 64-bit system and can access more than 4GB of RAM, so the 8GB of memory can be used. On the other hand, although we say that the customization layer can be stored in RAM, the truth is that part of the Android Linux Kernel always takes advantage of the memory to load drivers and cache. There are also virtual files accessible by RAM and radio systems or IMEI are stored in NVRAM. We do not need 8GB to manage these parameters, but it is good to remember that mobiles use RAM to handle a lot of data.
Keep pace with processors
The 8GB of RAM was expected for the Galaxy S8 but we will have to wait yet. The South Korean brand is precisely the manufacturer of these memory modules and it seemed obvious that they will release it, however other mobiles have anticipated taking advantage of the fact that the production level of these devices is lower.
The price of RAM memories has been decreasing according to MemoryGuy and current LPDDR4 chips are faster, take up less space and consume less. They offer speeds of up to 4266 Megabits per second and are only one millimeter thick.
And we are not only talking about more gigs of memory, these advances bring faster RAMs with bandwidths of more than 28GB / s and lower latencies. Processors like the new Snapdragon, the Exynos 8890, the MediaTek Helio X30 or the Kirin 970 accept LPDDR4 so it is obvious that it should be taken advantage of. Low and slow RAM can limit a powerful processor and create bottlenecks.
Be prepared for future updates
Having 8GB is a guarantee for the future. Note that one of the most important aspects when buying a low-end mobile is not the processor or the screen, but the RAM. Would you buy a mobile with 1GB of RAM in 2018? But surely you have no problems with the hundreds of mobiles with 2GB of RAM. What now seems an essential minimum, in a few years it will not be.
Android is a system in constant evolution and as they allow us to perform more actions, the RAM consumed is greater. We all want to have a thousand things open at the same time, but it will go to more. Android O for example allows display content on remote screens, adjusting its interface to the dimensions and resolution of the secondary screen.
In addition, when we talk about 8GB of RAM in the mobile we always think small, but we must bear in mind that these devices are increasingly the brain of our operations. Projects such as Windows Continuum make it clear that simply by adapting a screen our mobile becomes a computer.
Image and video editing on 4K displays
Editing photos and editing video is a much easier task with 8GB of RAM. It is true that the real limitations are due to the software and not so much the hardware, but the truth is that when this power becomes popular, some creators like Adobe will put the batteries in improving this section. And be careful, because precisely the owners of Premiere and Photoshop have been releasing tools for mobile phones for a long time.
If to this we add the arrival of 4K screens to mobile phones, the need for 8GB becomes clear. The resolution goes up a lot and more memory will be needed to be able to work and edit. One technology is linked to another, 8GB may seem excessive for today but very necessary to combine with the rest of the specifications that also improve.
Virtual reality, augmented and virtualization
It is no coincidence that the first mobile presented with 8GB was the ASUS Zenfone AR, a mobile designed to enhance Project Tango and augmented reality. Just as 4K displays and editing are right around the corner, augmented reality and virtual reality they are going to be fields with a lot of potential in the coming years. If we have 8GB of RAM in the mobile it is easier than ours can be updated and / or be compatible with virtual reality. In fact, even some computers fall short for this process.
Another field could be operating systems virtualization. In computers it is normal to create a partition of the RAM to be able to use another system, it should not be strange to see similar options in Android.
Smartphones continue to evolve in part because RAM allows us to perform new types of tasks
Having 8GB of RAM has multiple uses. Those users who use the mobile to surf the internet and consult social networks may not need so much memory, but in the same way that telephones evolved into smartphones, with so much RAM our Android can become small computers. And far from backing down, we are watching this technological improvement with enthusiasm.
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