In computer engineering, a cache is a component that transparently stores data so that future requests for that data can be served faster. The data that is stored within a cache might be values that have been computed earlier or duplicates of original values that are stored elsewhere. If requested data is contained in the cache (cache hit), this request can be served by simply reading the cache, which is comparatively faster. Otherwise (cache miss), the data has to be recomputed or fetched from its original storage location, which is comparatively slower. Hence, the greater the number of requests that can be served from the cache, the faster the overall system performance becomes.
To be cost efficient and to enable an efficient use of data, caches are relatively small. Nevertheless, caches have proven themselves in many areas of computing because access patterns in typical computer applications have locality of reference. References exhibit temporal locality if data is requested again that has been recently requested already. References exhibit spatial locality if data is requested that is physically stored close to data that has been requested already.