Memory Address

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What Does Memory Address Mean?

A memory address is a unique identifier used by a device or CPU for data tracking. This binary address is defined by an ordered and finite sequence allowing the CPU to track the location of each memory byte.


Modern computers are addressed by bytes which are assigned to memory addresses – binary numbers assigned to a random access memory (RAM) cell that holds up to one byte. Data greater than one byte is consecutively segmented into multiple bytes with a series of corresponding addresses.

Hardware devices and CPUs track stored data by accessing memory addresses via data buses.

Before CPU processing, data and programs must be stored in unique memory address locations.

Techopedia Explains Memory Address

The bus determines a fixed number of CPU memory addresses assigned according to CPU requirements. The CPU then processes physical memory in individual segments.

The operating system’s read-only memory (ROM) basic input/output system (BIOS) programs and device drivers require memory addresses. Before processing, input device/keyboard data, stored software or secondary storage must be copied to RAM with assigned memory addresses.

Memory addresses are usually allocated during the boot process. This initiates the startup BIOS on the ROM BIOS chip, which becomes the assigned address. To enable immediate video capability, the first memory addresses are assigned to video ROM and RAM, followed by the following assigned memory addresses:

  • Expansion card ROM and RAM chips
  • Motherboard dual inline memory modules, single inline memory modules or Rambus inline memory modules
  • Other devices

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.