Posted by: h4ck@lyst | April 11, 2008

IBM races to make hi-tech memory


Handheld gadgets storing thousands of hours of film footage could soon be a reality thanks to IBM scientists.

Researchers for the computer giant are working on a technology known as racetrack memory which uses tiny magnetic boundaries to store data.

In a paper in the journal Science, the team at IBM’s Almaden lab in California outline ways to make the building blocks of the novel storage medium.

Memory boost

The work being done on racetrack memory by Dr Parkin and colleagues could produce a storage medium that is cheap, durable and fast.

“We have demonstrated the physics and materials underlying racetrack memory,” said Dr Stuart Parkin, an IBM fellow at the Almaden laboratory.

“It’s now possible to build a racetrack memory though we’ve not built one yet,” he said.

The racetrack memory stores data in the boundaries, known as domain walls, between magnetic regions in nanowires.

The medium gets its name because the data races around the wire or track as it is read or written.

iPod nano, PA

Spintronics memory might mean devices that can hold 500,000 songs

The domain walls are read by exploiting the weak magnetic fields generated by the spin of electrons.

The tiny amounts of power needed to exploit these fields means racetrack memory generates far less heat than existing devices.

Many modern computers already use spintronics to improve the density of data on a hard drive.

The team has been able to create, move and detect the tiny magnetic boundaries “properly timed, nanosecond long, spin-polarized current pulses” and have paved the way towards creating working racetrack memory systems.

The team has also shown how to fabricate the slim wires that would form the racetracks on which data is stored.

If the expected data densities of the technology are realised it could mean gadgets that have about 100 times more memory on board than is possible today. It would mean that a portable MP3 player could hold up to 500,000 songs.

Read more..

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7341031.stm

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