New Memory to Store 100x More Data than Current SSDs

Dennis Faas's picture

Those concerned with the storage space on their mobile phones need not worry in the near future. IBM researchers are on the verge of a new technology that could be used to load up a mobile phone and computers with so much storage space that it could virtually keep copies of every single movie made this year.

The Incredibly Fast, Non-Spinning Anti-Hard Drive

IBM's experimental "Racetrack Memory" works much differently than the traditional hard drive.

While a standard hard drive spins a media platter (disc) and writes to it using magnetic read/write heads, Racetrack memory has no such platter or spinning motor. Instead, it uses electrical currents to move collections of electrons (called magnetic domain walls) up and down a miniscule wire. Moving domain walls to a reader in this fashion would allow Racetrack to read and write data much more quickly and use less power than standard storage devices. (Source:

Just how miniscule are the wires being used? Amazingly, the wires are a mere 30 nanometers wide -- about one thousandth the thickness of human hair.

While there is still a lot of work to be done before Racetrack memory becomes a reality, at least the most important question (whether an electric charge would move domain walls) has finally been answered.

Faster, Energy Efficient, Crash-Free Technology

The concept of Racetrack memory has been the brainchild of IBM engineer Stuart Parkin since 2004. Although Parkin admits that it has taken the better part of six years to establish, Racetrack memory avoids many of the problems associated with traditional hard drives, including energy usage and system errors. Racetrack memory "would be a million times faster to access, use much less energy and would have no problem with crashes," says Parkin. (Source:

While a substantial amount of time has been allotted to addressing concerns in these divisions, there is another major issue that stands in the way of commercializing Racetrack memory: funding.

Parkin believes that with the right funding, IBM would be two to five years away from creating Racetrack memory chips that could push magnetic domains around and store one hundred times more data than current flash memory chips used in solid state hard drives. The result would be a storage capacity of hundreds of gigabytes or even a few terabytes of data.

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