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Physical memory, also known as Random Access Memory (RAM), communicates at relatively high speed with the processors in a system. However, in a typical machine the amount of RAM is limited ranging from about 2GB on current laptops to 128GB or more on high-performance computing machines. When processes that are running on the computer use up all available RAM, most modern computers start using hard disk space as extensions to the memory and this type of memory is called swap space. The reason being that the operating system "swaps" data that needs to be worked on from hard disk into the physical memory and memory data to hard disk. However unlike physical memory, reading and writing to a hard disk is much slower. So whenever the memory demand exceeds available memory, the operating system starts swapping data between hard disk and memory. There is typically a significant drop in performance during swaps.
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