Information technology company IBM announced on Thursday that its researchers have revealed a previously unknown new memory, Racetrack memory.
IBM said that this new class of memory stands to improve memory capabilities within mobile phones, laptop computers and business-class servers. It could enable devices to store much more information – as much as a factor of 100 times greater – while using much less energy than today’s designs.
The Racetrack memory project, which was initiated in IBM’s Research labs six years ago, instead of making computers seek out the data it needs – as is the case in traditional computing systems – automatically moves data to where it can be used, sliding magnetic bits back and forth along nanowire ‘racetracks’.
This technique is expected to allow electronic manufacturers to design a portable device capable of storing all the movies produced worldwide in a given year with room to spare.
Digital data is typically stored in magnetic hard disk drives, or in solid state memory such as Flash memory. The new Racetrack memory aims to combine the best attributes of these two types of devices by storing data as magnetic regions – also called domains – in racetracks just a few tens of nanometres wide. This new Racetrack memory uses the spin of electrons to move data at hundreds of miles per hour to atomically precise positions along the nanowire racetrack.
IBM said its researchers are the first to measure the movement and processing of digital data as a magnetic pattern on nanowires 1,000 times finer than a human hair.
IBM said that the details and results of this research effort will be reported in the 24 December 2010 issue of Science. The paper is titled ‘Dynamics of magnetic domain walls under their own inertia’ and is authored by Luc Thomas, Rai Moriya, Charles Rettner and Stuart Parkin of IBM Research – Almaden.