Random-access memory (usually known by its acronym, RAM) is a form of computer data storage. Today, it takes the form of integrated circuits that allow stored data to be accessed in any order (i.e., at random). The word random thus refers to the fact that any piece of data can be returned in a constant time, regardless of its physical location and whether or not it is related to the previous piece of data.
By contrast, storage devices such as tapes, magnetic discs and optical discs rely on the physical movement of the recording medium or a reading head. In these devices, the movement takes longer than data transfer, and the retrieval time varies based on the physical location of the next item.
The word RAM is often associated with volatile types of memory (such as DRAM memory modules), where the information is lost after the power is switched off. Many other types of memory are RAM, too, including most types of ROM and flash memory called NOR-Flash.