Monday, April 14, 2008

IBM 'Racetrack' Nano-Magnetic Memory

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IBM has announced that they are developing a new type of memory which will be faster than current hard drives and flash memory while offering about 100 times the storage capacity. Dubbed “Racetrack,” the technology is similar to flash memory in that it has no moving parts, which reduces the likelihood of mechanical malfunction. However, unlike flash memory, which can typically last 100,000 read-write cycles before problems emerge, "racetrack" can supposedly be endlessly rewritten with no wear and tear.

Using spintronics--the storage of bits generated by the magnetic spin of electrons rather than their charge--a proof-of-concept shift register was recently demonstrated by IBM. The prototype encodes bits into the magnetic domain walls along the length of a silicon nanowire, or racetrack. IBM uses "massless motion" to move the magnetic domain walls along the nanowire for the storage and retrieval of information.

"We have now demonstrated a current-controlled, domain-wall, shift register which is the fundamental, underlying technology for racetrack memory," said Stuart Parkin of IBM's Almaden Research Center. "We use current pulses to move a series of domain walls along a nanowire, which is not possible to do with magnetic fields."

IBM stated tey hope to have a prototype ready within 2 to 4 years, with mass production possibly within 7 years.

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