Read-only memory is the other type of internal memory. ROM memory is used to store items that the computer needs to execute when it is first turned on. For example, the ROM memory on a PC contains a basic set of instructions, called the basic input-output system (BIOS). The PC uses BIOS to start up the operating system. BIOS is stored on computer chips in a way that causes the information to remain even when power is turned off.
Information in ROM is usually permanent and cannot be erased or written over easily. A ROM is permanent if the information cannot be changed—once the ROM has been created, information can be retrieved but not changed. Newer technologies allow ROMs to be semi-permanent—that is, the information can be changed, but it takes several seconds to make the change. For example, a FLASH memory acts like a ROM because values remain stored in memory, but the values can be changed.