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The system memory is the place where the computer holds current programs and data that are in use. The term "memory" is somewhat ambiguous; it can refer to many different parts of the PC because there are so many different kinds of memory that a PC uses. However, when used by itself, "memory" usually refers to the main system memory, which holds the instructions that the processor executes and the data that those instructions work with. Your system memory is an important part of the main processing subsystem of the PC, tied in with the processor, cache, motherboard and chipset.
Memory plays a significant role in the following important aspects of your computer system:
This section describes various aspects of the system memory, including how the system memory works, the different technologies used, packaging styles and how operating systems and programs organize and use the memory in the PC. Special attention is given to error detection and correction (which is in my opinion a greatly under-emphasized subject today) as well as details on how to know what type of memory works in different kinds of PCs.
For additional reference, you might want to check out this section describing BIOS settings related to the system memory.
Next: Memory Technology Types