IBM BOFFINS reckon that a new kind of storage device with the speed and efficiency of flash, and the capacity and low cost of platter drives, could be less than ten years way.
Both prevalent technologies have their problems. HDD is hot, noisy and bulky. It's also sensitive to knock and bumps, and has loads of moving parts to go wrong. SSD is smaller and lighter with no moving parts but, despite being quick at reading data, is a bit slovenly when it comes to writing it. SSDs also have lifespan problems, as each write cycle does tiny amounts of damage to the integrity of the circuits. Oh, and it costs one arm + one leg.
Dubbed "Racetrack", because the data races around a wire track, IBM's new baby has no moving parts and potential capacity, size for size, more than 100 times greater than current technologies.
It would also require far less power and generate far less heat meaning that battery-operated devices could run for weeks on a single charge and last for decades.
IBM is no noob when it comes to bringing revolutionary concepts to market having invented the memory chip and the hard drive.
IBM fellow Stuart Parkin and a number of colleagues published their findings in this month's Science. In their paper, the scientists describe their use of horizontal permalloy nanowires 10,000 times thinner than a human hair charged with spin-polarized current pulses to record and retrieve data.
We reckon describing the new chips as "virtually indestructible" might backfire on them, though. Remember when they said that about CDs?
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