This is the basic form, from which all others derive. An asynchronous DRAM chip has power connections, some number of address inputs (typically 12), and a few (typically one or four) bidirectional data lines. There are four active low control signals:
- /RAS, the Row Address Strobe. The address inputs are captured on the falling edge of /RAS, and select a row to open. The row is held open as long as /RAS is low.
- /CAS, the Column Address Strobe. The address inputs are captured on the falling edge of /CAS, and select a column from the currently open row to read or write.
- /WE, Write Enable. This signal determines whether a given falling edge of /CAS is a read (if high) or write (if low). If low, the data inputs are also captured on the falling edge of /CAS.
- /OE, Output Enable. This is an additional signal that controls output to the data I/O pins. The data pins are driven by the DRAM chip if /RAS and /CAS are low, /WE is high, and /OE is low. In many applications, /OE can be permanently connected low (output always enabled), but it can be useful when connecting multiple memory chips in parallel.
This interface provides direct control of internal timing. When /RAS is driven low, a /CAS cycle must not be attempted until the sense amplifiers have sensed the memory state, and /RAS must not be returned high until the storage cells have been refreshed. When /RAS is driven high, it must be held high long enough for precharging to complete.
Although the RAM is asynchronous, the signals are typically generated by a clocked memory controller, which limits their timing to multiples of the controller's clock cycle.