updated 04:50 pm EST, Thu December 23, 2010
IBM makes new headway in new Racetrack memory
IBM researchers on Thursday revealed new information about the technology behind its 3D memory, dubbed Racetrack. The new info reveals that the new type of storage can hold as much as 100 times more data while using less energy than current designs. The six-year old project involves moving data to where it can be used by sliding magnetic bits along nanowire 'racetracks.'
The technology aims to combine the best of magnetic hard disk drives and solid state memory. It stores data as magnetic regions called domains that are a few nanometers wide. IBM scientists were the first to measure the time and distance of domain wall acceleration and deceleration when provoked by electric current pulses. The domain walls can be moved at hundreds of miles per hour and stopped at precise positions. Information can be accessed in less than a billionth of a second.
"We discovered that domain walls don't hit peak acceleration as soon as the current is turned on, and that it takes them exactly the same time and distance to hit peak acceleration as it does to decelerate and eventually come to a stop," said IBM research fellow Dr. Stuart Parkin.
"This was previously undiscovered in part because it was not clear whether the domain walls actually had mass, and how the effects of acceleration and deceleration could exactly compensate one another. Now we know domain walls can be positioned precisely along the racetracks simply by varying the length of the current pulses even though the walls have mass."