Virtual RAM, active RAM expansion, extended RAM – if you've been tracking smartphone launches in recent months in India, chances are good that you've heard at least one of these terms. RAM is one thing that comes with each and every smartphone and most people know it.. However, terms such as virtual RAM or extended RAM are partially new and here we will try to explain what it is, how it works and if you really need to worry.

Each and every one of the previously mentioned terms are exactly the same in Android, but things can change depending on how you activate the function and the brand limit.


(Image credit: Realme)


This article contains contributions from Sreehari, Product Manager, Realme Global

For context, the Realme Narzo thirty 5G that was announced a few weeks ago in India comes with six GB of RAM, but with the Dynamic RAM Expansion function, the phone can get up to five GB of auxiliary RAM, which brings the total RAM to eleven GB. Dynamic RAM Expansion is Realme's marketing term for Virtual RAM. Also, iQoo uses "extended RAM" and Vivo simply calls it virtual RAM. In the article, we will try to understand precisely what virtual RAM is and everything you need to know about virtual RAM on your smartphone.

While the feature is only present in a handful of devices, in the future this feature could be a staple of most of the smartphones in India. So before it goes mainstream, here's what you need to know about virtual RAM.

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What is virtual RAM?

To understand the term virtual RAM, we must first understand what RAM is. Your smartphone's RAM is volatile memory that is faster than any other type of storage.. When you open an app on the phone, it's going to be called a process and those processes (multiple apps) will be saved to physical RAM in the background. RAM lets you load apps faster without too much lag or lag.

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

On a related note, virtual RAM actually employs the phone's internal storage as makeshift RAM, famously as virtual RAM.

In short, virtual RAM is a function in which a part of your phone's internal storage will be used as auxiliary RAM, certainly increasing the amount of RAM in your smartphone. As the name suggests, it is "virtual" RAM, which means that the amount of extended RAM is not physically present as RAM on your smartphone.

For example, if a phone has six GB of RAM and XNUMX GB of storage and expands the RAM by five GB, technically now it will have eleven GB of RAM and around one hundred and twenty-three GB of internal storage.

How is it going?

For those familiar with Linux, this feature is frequently used and is actually borrowed from the planet of computers to smartphones. Although we should have gained root access a few years ago to expand and get auxiliary virtual RAM, now it's considerably simpler: all it takes is a switch and you get more RAM. The amount of RAM you can expand depends on the device and so far we've seen an extension from 1GB to 7GB of RAM.

When you turn on the virtual memory feature on your smartphone, the phone actually allocates the amount of memory you chose as virtual, but to allocate space on the internal storage, you will have to restart the phone. As an example, the Realme Narzo thirty 5G's six GB configuration accepts a five GB expansion, bringing the total to eleven GB.

Now let's take a look at how this function actually works in real life. First of all, first, if you expand the RAM, you will not see an increase in the amount of RAM used by the system 一 while the storage is allocated to the virtual RAM, your physical RAM is going to be exactly the same capacity.

To understand the term of how virtual RAM works, let's take a case here. Keep in mind that you have ten applications open on your Android smartphone and there is no more space in the real RAM of the phone, so what really happens on Android closes the applications that are not running: plan or do not do any active work in the background - either the system simply kills the application that has the lowest priority and the one that is the oldest among the ten applications.

This is where virtual RAM comes in handy. Virtual RAM manages each and every application that does not have any active background functions and will hold these kinds of applications in memory for a longer period of time. The Android system will take care of and prioritize which applications should be saved in virtual memory and which ones should not.

To enable extended RAM, you must restart the phone.

Apps like calculator that don't have much going on in the background will be moved to virtual RAM when needed. This is because internal storage is considerably slower than RAM and will not be able to handle active apps like games or heavy apps like paid apps or games. Only the least essential apps will be moved to Android's virtual memory, while the heaviest tasks will be held in real memory.

Virtual RAM will only be used when physical RAM reaches its limit for handling processes. By using the virtual memory function, more applications can continue in the background over a longer period of time, especially the light ones, which will let heavy applications and games continue in memory as well. It's also worth mentioning that virtual RAM isn't really going to improve gaming performance.

For what reason is it only now reaching smartphones?

As previously stated, this technology is not brand new, as we have seen the same thing on computers and smartphones with root access previously. This is quite old technology and users now want more RAM in smartphones as they use heavy applications and play games on their smartphones.

A few years ago, 4 GB was enough, but now applications have become considerably larger and require more resources. Since adding more RAM via the hardware route is quite difficult and expensive, virtual RAM is a simpler way for brands to provide more memory to users without incurring ancillary costs.

Like 5G on smartphones, this will also contribute to the sustainability of the device. With apps like Google Chrome and games like Genshin Impact and BGMI taking up a lot of memory, every bit of RAM is going to be useful. On top of this, it would assist when it comes to 4K video recording and AR applications, which are set to become mainstream in the near future. It's more about making room for anything potential users can do in the near future.

(Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

Is it more useful on low-budget or high-end devices?

Although there is no difference in the implementation, it will be the phones with less memory that will use more virtual RAM, which as a general rule will be inexpensive devices.

Can virtual RAM be expanded via OTA update?

Yes, smartphone OEMs can add RAM expansion functionality through a software update. However, it is not as simple as flipping a switch and requires a lot of testing and optimization.

Will the genre of internal storage used in phones affect the performance of virtual RAM?

Although the difference on paper between something like UFS twenty-one and UFS thirty-one storage can be significant, neither of them comes close to the actual speed of RAM. And since only low-priority compressed processes are pushed to virtual RAM, the noticeable performance differences are surely minor.

(Image credit: Realme)

What to expect in the future?

Realme tells us that it wants to monitor how users use this function, if it helps their habits and even if it is useful. According to the reply, you will consider adding or repairing it for other devices.

The fact that memory expansion is still a partially new term on smartphones means that brands would like to use it as marketing rationale as well before it becomes all too common.

Phones with this virtual RAM feature in India

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