The processor is the most important component of a computer, but a processor can perform at its best only when the memory can keep up with its speed. The speed of a processor is measured in gigahertz(GHz), while the speed of RAM is measured in megahertz(MHz). However, experts have challenged that the speed of RAM should not be MHz as it is technically wrong.
They suggest that the speed of RAM should be measured in mega transfers per second(MT/s). We will understand the definitions and differences between megahertz(MHz) and mega transfers per second(MT/s). We will also conclude which is the correct and better unit of speed measurement.
What is Megahertz (MHz)?
Megahertz is the measurement of frequency. Mega stands for million, while hertz is the basic unit of frequency. Frequency is the rate of one cycle per second. Therefore, megahertz represents a million cycles per second. For RAM, megahertz represents the frequency of digital signals.
The digital signals are in square waves, converted into binary signals of 0 and 1. These 0s and 1s are data transferred from the processor to the RAM and vice versa. Basically, megahertz represents the speed of data moving in and out of RAM.
What are Mega Transfers Per Second (MT/s)?
Mega transfers per second is the measurement of data transfer in megabytes. One mega transfer refers to one megabyte. When you add time to mega transfer, you get how much data the RAM is transferring per second.
Instead of frequency or clock speed, you can get the actual data transfer rate of any RAM. Therefore, it is a more effective unit of judging the memory to pair with the processor for the best performance.
Why Does Everyone Use Megahertz?
A RAM module consists of transistors. Transistors act like switches where 0 means off and 1 means on. We have already stated that megahertz represents the frequency of digital signals that are in square waves. They are converted into binary signals of 0 and 1. Due to this correlation, everyone started to use megahertz as the standard measurement of RAM speed.
When SDRAM was introduced, the clock speed was important because the data was transferred, syncing with the clock speed. In that case, a RAM of 400MHz would have a data rate of 400MT/s due to the syncing. But now DDR RAMs are used where there is no more sync between data rate and clock speed. The data transfer speed has doubled in DDR RAM in comparison to SDRAM.
However, the same old tradition is continuing to date though technically, Mega transfers per second is more accurate for DDR RAM speed. Megahertz helps buyers understand the speed of RAM as they are used to megahertz as the measurement of speed. The use of mega transfers per second would create confusion as it is a relatively new term. Hence, the manufacturers of RAM still use megahertz instead of mega transfers per second.
What is the Difference Between RAM MHz and MT/s?
Both Megahertz and Mega transfers per second are used to measure the speed of RAM. When we state the speed of RAM in terms of frequency, we use megahertz. When we state the speed of RAM in terms of data transfer rate, we use mega transfers per second.
When you describe the speed of RAM in terms of megahertz, you are essentially referring to how fast the transistors in RAM are switching per second. For example, if the RAM speed is 3000MHz, its transistors are switching 3000 million times per second. But when you are using megahertz, it does not imply how much data is transferred per second by RAM.
When you describe the speed of RAM in terms of mega transfers per second, you are referring to the maximum bandwidth of data that the RAM can transfer per second. For example, if the RAM speed is 3000MT/s, the Ram can transfer a maximum of 3000 MB of data per second.
Which is Correct, MT/s or MHz?
A few years back, when SDRAM was there, MHz was the correct unit for measuring speed. But now, with DDRRAM, MT/s is the correct unit of measurement of speed. In general, MT/s is technically more correct as it states the rate of data transfer per second rather than clock speed. Since manufacturers use MHz, you should ignore the units and focus on the numbers and compare RAMs in terms of the numbers.
MHz Vs MT/s – FAQs
Ans: Yes, MT/s does affect the overall system performance. The higher the MT/s of RAM, the faster the RAM will be. This means the faster will be the data transfer between RAM and the processor and hence, the better will be the overall system performance.
Ans: No, MTS and MHz are different for DDR RAM, the most commonly used RAM type in modern times. 3200 MTS will actually mean 1600MHz because the data rate is double the frequency or clock speed in DDR RAM.
Ans: The higher the MTS and MHz, the faster will be the data transfer rate. Any game needs frequent loading of graphics data, and a faster RAM will facilitate the loading of graphics data.
Ans: 3200 MTS is faster than 2666 MTS RAM. If you are running heavy applications, 3200 MTS RAM will make the performance smoother in comparison to 2666 MTS. This is because a heavy application needs frequent loading of heavy data.
MHz and MT/s are units for the measurement of the speed of RAM. Though MHz is mostly used for RAM, MT/s is the most accurate measurement unit. We have defined the units for you and differentiated them with proper examples for your understanding. Though manufacturers should use MT/s instead of MHz for DDR, they are persistent with the older unit not to confuse the users. Instead of focusing on the unit, you should compare RAM in terms of the numerical value.