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Storing data in three dimensions with racetrack memory
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Written by Daniel   
Thursday, 10 April 2008 13:40

Storing data in three dimensions with racetrack memory

By Matt Ford | Published: April 10, 2008 - 01:00PM CT
ARS Technica

Work from researchers at IBMs Almaden Research Laboratory suggests that a new type of computer memory storage may be on the horizon.

Currently, computer memory comes in one of two flavors: solid state RAM or magnetic hard disk drives, both of which rely on what's effectively two-dimensional storage. The new method adds some useful features to memory storage by extending the physical storage into the third dimension.

Over the past few years, an IBM research team, led by Stuart S. P. Parkin, has been developing a new method for storing information. Called racetrack memory (RM), it relies on U-shaped nanowires that are arranged perpendicular to the surface of a chip and act as a shift register. Bits can be read or written at the base of the wire. Once on the wire, bits can then be moved around as if they're on a memory stack thanks to nanosecond pulses of current applied to the ends of the U that shift all the bits to new locations on the wire.

A pair of articles from the Almaden group that describe RM appear in this week's edition of Science, the first describing the technology in depth, and the second reporting the construction of a simplified working device. The review article1 lays out the basics of racetrack memory. The smallest unit of RM is a U-shaped nanowire, with data stored in magnetic domain walls (DWs) arrayed along its length. A collection of these nanowires can be built onto a single chip, producing a memory density greater than anything solid state memory can currently handle. According to the researchers, even a two-dimensional RM setup would have a memory density higher than nearly all current solid state offerings.  [Ars technica..]  [Comments...]
 

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