Associative memory in computer organization is when memory is accessed through content rather thanthrough a specific address. Associative memory is also known as associative storage, associative array or content-addressable memory, or CAM.
Associative memory is found on a computer hard drive and used only in specific high-speed searching applications. Most computer memory known as random access memory, or RAM, works through the computer user providing a memory address and then the RAM will return whatever data is stored at that memory address. However, CAM works through the computer user providing a data word and then searching throughout the entire computer memory to see if the word is there. If the computer finds the data word then it offers a list of all of the storage addresses where the word was found for the user.
CAM is faster than RAM in almost every search application, but many people stick with RAM for their computers because a computer with CAM is more expensive than RAM. The reason for the price increase for CAM computers is because with CAM computers, each cell has to have the full storage capability and logic circuits that can match content with external argument. Associative memory computers are best for users that require searches to take place quickly and whose searches are critical for job performance on the machine.