Content addressable memory or CAM is a type of memory that is used in devices where a high speed of searching and information forwarding is a necessity. Also known as associative memory or associative storage, CAM tends to compare the input data that is being searched with a table consisting of the data already stored on it, subsequently returning the address of the data that matches the performed search.


This means that you are essentially searching for certain keywords or terms that the computer figures out if its memory contains or not and then presents you with its storage address on its memory if it does. Its much faster speed is why it is often referred over RAM which runs on individual storage cells and must run multiple clock cycles in order to return a single memory search. RAM tends to use a memory address in order to extract the data stored on that specific address whereas CAM simply uses the key or tag entered to identify and present relevant storage sites of the key terms, finishing the search in one clock cycle. While CAM is implemented in certain specialized settings where high speeds are a necessity, they tend to be larger, more power consuming, and as a whole, more expensive than the regular RAM chips.


There are two types of CAM, binary and ternary. Binary uses the same old 1s and 0s configuration to make the searches whereas ternary introduces another state of X, making it more flexible and adaptable.


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