ARCHIVED: What is ROM?
ROM is an acronym for Read-Only Memory. It refers to computer memory chips containing permanent or semi-permanent data. Unlike RAM, ROM is non-volatile; even after you turn off your computer, the contents of ROM will remain.
Almost every computer comes with a small amount of ROM containing the boot firmware. This consists of a few kilobytes of code that tell the computer what to do when it starts up, e.g., running hardware diagnostics and loading the operating system into RAM. On a PC, the boot firmware is called the BIOS.
Originally, ROM was actually read-only. To update the programs in ROM, you had to remove and physically replace your ROM chips. Contemporary versions of ROM allow some limited rewriting, so you can usually upgrade firmware such as the BIOS by using installation software. Rewritable ROM chips include PROMs (programmable read-only memory), EPROMs (erasable read-only memory), EEPROMs (electrically erasable programmable read-only memory), and a common variation of EEPROMs called flash memory.
Last modified on January 03, 2013.