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memory management unit (MMU)

Contributor(s): Stan Gibilisco

A memory management unit (MMU) is a computer hardware component that handles all memory and caching operations associated with the processor. In other words, the MMU is responsible for all aspects of memory management. It is usually integrated into the processor, although in some systems it occupies a separate IC (integrated circuit) chip.

The work of the MMU can be divided into three major categories:

  • Hardware memory management, which oversees and regulates the processor's use of RAM (random access memory) and cache memory.
  • OS (operating system) memory management, which ensures the availability of adequate memory resources for the objects and data structures of each running program at all times.
  • Application memory management, which allocates each individual program's required memory, and then recycles freed-up memory space when the operation concludes.

 

This was last updated in September 2012

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