Synchronous dynamic random access memory (SDRAM) is dynamic random access memory (DRAM) that is synchronized with the system bus. Classic DRAM has an asynchronous interface, which means that it responds as quickly as possible to changes in control inputs. SDRAM has a synchronous interface, meaning that it waits for a clock signal before responding to control inputs and is therefore synchronized with the computer's system bus. The clock is used to drive an internal finite state machine that pipelines incoming commands. The data storage area is divided into several banks, allowing the chip to work on several memory access commands at a time, interleaved among the separate banks. This allows higher data access rates than an asynchronous DRAM.
Pipelining means that the chip can accept a new command before it has finished processing the previous one. In a pipelined write, the write command can be immediately followed by another command, without waiting for the data to be written to the memory array. In a pipelined read, the requested data appears after a fixed number of clock cycles after the read command (latency), clock cycles during which additional commands can be sent. (This delay is called the latency and is an important performance parameter to consider when purchasing SDRAM for a computer.)
SDRAM is widely used in computers; from the original SDRAM, further generations of DDR (or DDR1) and then DDR2 and DDR3 have entered the mass market, with DDR4 currently being designed and anticipated to be available in 2013.