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TERM PAPER TOPIC: - Virtual Memory Architecture






In the 1940s and 1950s, all larger programs had to contain logic for managing primary and secondary storage, such as overlaying. Virtual memory was therefore introduced not only to extend primary memory, but to make such an extension as easy as possible for programmers to use. To allow for multiprogramming and multitasking, many early systems divided memory between multiple programs without virtual memory, such as early models of the PDP-10 via registers. Paging was first developed at the University of Manchester as a way to extend the Atlas Computer's working memory by combining its 16 thousand words of primary core memory with an additional 96 thousand words of secondary drum memory. The first Atlas was commissioned in 1962 but working prototypes of paging had been developed by 1959.In 1961, the Burroughs Corporation independently released the first commercial computer with virtual memory, the B5000, with segmentation rather than paging. Before virtual memory could be implemented in mainstream operating systems, many problems had to be addressed. Dynamic address translation required expensive and difficult to build specialized hardware; initial implementations slowed down access to memory slightly. There were worries that new system-wide algorithms utilizing secondary storage would be less effective than previously used application-specific algorithms. The first minicomputer to introduce virtual memory was the Norwegian NORD-1; during the 1970s, other minicomputers implemented virtual memory, notably VAX models running VMS. Virtual memory was introduced to the x86 architecture with the protected mode of the Intel 80286 processor, but its segment swapping technique scaled poorly to larger segment sizes. The Intel 80386 introduced paging support underneath the existing segmentation layer, enabling the page fault exception to chain with other exceptions without double fault. However, loading segment

descriptors was an expensive operation, causing operating system designers to rely strictly on paging rather than a combination of paging and segmentation.

Virtual Memory
Virtual (or logical) memory is a concept that, when implemented by a computer and its operating system, allows programmers to use a very large range of memory or storage addresses for stored data. The computing system maps the programmer's virtual addresses to real hardware storage addresses. Usually, the programmer is freed from having to be concerned about the availability of data storage. In addition to managing the mapping of virtual storage addresses to real storage addresses, a computer implementing virtual memory or storage also manages storage swapping between active storage (RAM) and hard disk or other high volume storage devices. Data is read in units called "pages" of sizes ranging from a thousand bytes (actually 1,024 decimal bytes) up to several megabytes in size. This reduces the amount of physical storage access that is required and speeds up overall system performance.



CPU Cache

Main Memory

Secondary Memory


Virtual Memory
Virtual memory is a computer system technique which gives an application program the impression that it has contiguous working memory (an address space), while in fact it may be physically fragmented and may even overflow on to disk storage. Developed for multitasking kernels, memory provides two primary functions: virtual

1. Each process has its own address space, thereby not required to be relocated nor required to use relative addressing mode.

2. Each process sees one contiguous block of free memory upon launch. Fragmentation is hidden. All implementations (excluding emulators) require hardware support. This is typically in the form of a Memory Management Unit built into the CPU. Systems that use this technique make programming of large applications easier and use real physical memory (e.g. RAM) more efficiently than those without virtual memory. Virtual memory differs significantly from memory virtualization in that virtual memory allows resources to be virtualized as memory for a specific system, as opposed to a large pool of memory being virtualized as smaller pools for many different systems. Note that "virtual memory" is more than just "using disk space to extend physical memory size" - that is merely the extension of the memory hierarchy to include hard disk drives. Extending memory to disk is a normal consequence of using virtual memory techniques, but could be done by other means such as overlays or swapping programs and their data completely out to disk while they are inactive. The definition of "virtual memory" is based on redefining the address space with a contiguous virtual memory addresses to "trick" programs into thinking they are using large blocks of contiguous addresses. Modern general-purpose computer operating systems generally use virtual memory techniques for ordinary applications, such as word processors, spreadsheets, multimedia players, accounting, etc., except where the required hardware support (a memory management unit) is unavailable. Older operating systems, such as DOS of the 1980s, or those for the mainframes of the 1960s, generally had no virtual memory functionality - notable exceptions being the Atlas, B5000 and Apple Computer's Lisa. Embedded systems and other special-purpose computer systems which require very fast and/or very consistent response times may opt not to use virtual memory due to decreased determinism. This is based on the idea that unpredictable processor exceptions produce unwanted jitter on CPU operated I/O, which the smaller embedded processors often perform directly to keep cost and power consumption low. And the associated simple application has little use for multitasking features.

When Virtual Memory is needed?

Virtual memory is important for users who require a lot of applications to run at the same time. Whenever the number of applications on a computer exceeds the amount of space in the random access memory (RAM), virtual memory allows the computer to continue to process information. Without virtual memory, it would be necessary to continuously close one application so that you could open another one. Virtual memory makes it possible for you to use e-mail, web browsers, word processers and other programs

simultaneously. Most new computer make use of virtual memory and even have a virtual memory manager, so you dont have to be a technical wizard for your computer to take advantage of this solution.

How virtual memory works?

Virtual memory is a common part of most operating systems on desktop computers. It has become so common because it provides a big benefit for users at a very low cost. Most computers today have something like 32 or 64 megabytes of RAM available for the CPU to use (see How RAM Works for details on RAM). Unfortunately, that amount of RAM is not enough to run all of the programs that most users expect to run at once. For example, if you load the operating system, an e-mail program, a Web browser and word processor into RAM simultaneously, 32 megabytes is not enough to hold it all. If there were no such thing as virtual memory, then once you filled up the available RAM your computer would have to say, "Sorry, you can not load any more applications. Please close another application to load a new one." With virtual memory, what the computer can do is look at RAM for areas that have not been used recently and copy them onto the hard disk. This frees up space in RAM to load the new application. Because this copying happens automatically, you don't even know it is happening, and it makes your computer feel like is has unlimited RAM space even though it only has 32 megabytes installed. Because hard disk space is so much cheaper than RAM chips, it also has a nice economic benefit. The read/write speed of a hard drive is much slower than RAM, and the technology of a hard drive is not geared toward accessing small pieces of data at a time. If your system has to rely too heavily on virtual memory, you will notice a significant performance drop. The key is to have enough RAM to handle everything you tend to work on simultaneously then, the only time you "feel" the slowness of virtual memory is when there's a slight pause when you're changing tasks. When that's the case, virtual memory is perfect. When it is not the case, the operating system has to constantly swap information back and forth between RAM and the hard disk. This is called thrashing, and it can make your computer feel incredibly slow. Virtual Disk Storag e




Memor y

The area of the hard disk that stores the RAM image is called a page file. It holds pages of RAM on the hard disk, and the operating system moves data back and forth between the page file and RAM. On a Windows machine, page files have a .SWP extension.

Object Of Virtual Memory

When a computer is executing many programs at the same time, Virtual memory make the computer to share memory efficiently. Eliminate a restriction that a computer works in memory which is small and be limited. When many programs is running at the same time, by distributing each suitable memory area to each program, VM protect programs to interfere each other in each memory area.

Objective Of virtual memory

The purpose of virtual memory is to enlarge the address space, the set of addresses a program can utilize. For example, virtual memory might contain twice as many addresses as main memory. A program using all of virtual memory, therefore, would not be able to fit in main memory all at once. Nevertheless, the computer could execute such a program by copying into main memory those portions of the program needed at any given point during execution.