Difference between Cache and Buffer

Cache and Buffer are types data storage layers that are used to store the data temporarily. A buffer is an area of main memory that stores data during input and output data transfers. When moving data between processes on a computer, a buffer is useful. Cache memory is used to reduce memory access time and increase computer speed.

Read this article to find out more about Cache and Buffer and how they are different from each other.

What is Cache?

Cache memory temporarily stores information, data, and programmes that the CPU frequently uses. When data is needed, the CPU will automatically access cache memory for faster data access. This is due to the fact that server RAM is slower and located further away from the CPU. A cache hit occurs when data is found in cache memory. A cache hit allows the processor to retrieve data quickly, increasing the overall efficiency of your system.

Each cache block has a size ranging from 1 to 16 bytes. The cache memory stores instructions and data that programmes use repeatedly, improving overall performance. These temporary files and bits of information will consume more disc space over time.

There are three major levels of cache memory, each with slightly different functions. Level 1 (L1) cache memory is the fastest because it is the smallest and closest to the processor. Level 2 (L2) is located on the processor chip and has a higher capacity but a slower speed. Level 3 (L3) cache memory has the greatest capacity and is found on computers that use the L2 cache.

Types of Cache

Cache memory can be of the following types −

  • Primary Cache − They always present on the processor chip and has a much shorter access time than the processor register and is much smaller in size.

  • Secondary Cache − They sits between the main memory and the cache memory. It is also referred to as Level 2 cache and is located on the processor.

They are also known as a cache store or RAM cache. Memory caching is useful because most programmes repeatedly access the same data or instructions. The computer avoids accessing the slower DRAM by storing as much of this information as possible in SRAM.

What is Buffer?

A buffer is a temporary storage area in computing that holds data while it's being moved from one position to another. Buffers are extensively used in numerous aspects of computing, such as networking, I/ O operations, and visuals processing.

Buffers are typically used when the rate at which data is received and the rate at which it can be processed vary. Most buffers are implemented in software, which typically stores temporary data in faster RAM due to its much faster access time than hard disc drives.

The data in a data buffer is physically stored on a storage medium. We will either lose data or have lower bandwidth utilization when we remove the buffer.

Types of Buffer

Buffers can be of the following types −

  • Single Buffer − One buffer is used to transfer data or information between the two devices. Here the data is stored in the system memory.

  • Double Buffer − These buffers allow you to use two buffers to transfer data or information between the two devices. Here, one buffer can process while the data or information is sent to the second buffer. It is also known as "buffer swapping."

  • Circular Buffer − The collection of more than two buffers is called a "circular buffer." Here, each buffer represents one unit. Using a circular buffer instead of a double buffer will increase the data transfer rate.

Difference between Cache and Buffer

The following table highlights the major differences between Cache and Buffer −




Storage Area

High-speed storage area

Normal-speed storage is when compared to the cache


Faster static RAM is used.

Slow dynamic RAM is used.


Reading and writing of discs is used.

There are input and output processes.


It increases the CPU access time.

It doesn't increase the access time.

Data Storage

Cache stores the original data, which needs to be sent to the receiver.

Buffer stores a copy of the original data.


It is implemented in the main memory.

It is implemented in RAM and on disk.


Caches are generally smaller and faster than buffers, and they may use complex algorithms to manage the data stored in them. Buffers, on the other hand, are generally simpler and straightforward and may be used in a variety of surroundings, including networking and audio and videotape processing. A cache is a type of high-speed memory used to store constantly accessed data or instructions. A buffer is a temporary storage area used to hold data for processing or transmission.

Updated on: 02-Mar-2023

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