April 12th, 2008at 06:00pm Posted by Eli

This can’t get here soon enough.

Researchers for [IBM] are working on a technology known as racetrack memory which uses tiny magnetic boundaries to store data.

In a paper in the journal Science, the team at IBM’s Almaden lab in California outline ways to make the building blocks of the novel storage medium.

The capacity of MP3 players could increase 100 times from present levels.

But the IBM team say racetrack memory is still seven to eight years away from commercial use. [NOOO!!!!]


Hard drives are cheap but their moving parts mean they are not very durable. They are also slow in that they typically take a few milliseconds to find and fetch data.

By contrast flash memory is more reliable and data can be read from it much faster though it has a finite lifespan and is expensive compared to hard drives.

The work being done on racetrack memory by Dr Parkin and colleagues could produce a storage medium that is cheap, durable and fast.

Ultimately, said Dr Parkin, racetrack memory could replace both flash and hard drives in computers and other gadgets.


The racetrack memory stores data in the boundaries, known as domain walls, between magnetic regions in nanowires.

The medium gets its name because the data races around the wire or track as it is read or written.

The domain walls are read by exploiting the weak magnetic fields generated by the spin of electrons.

The tiny amounts of power needed to exploit these fields means racetrack memory generates far less heat than existing devices.


If the expected data densities of the technology are realised it could mean gadgets that have about 100 times more memory on board than is possible today. It would mean that a portable MP3 player could hold up to 500,000 songs.

“We are embarking on a path to build a prototype,” said Dr Parkin. He said it could take up to four years to produce that prototype and a further three or four to refine it for commercial use.

We are talking terabyte iPods, people!  And lightning-fast multi-terabyte PC/server drives that don’t crash.  You could use the same memory card in your digital camera for your entire life and never have to delete a single image.

(h/t Engadget)

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Technology

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