Harddisk in the future – Racetrack

IBM has come out with a latest storage technology derived from the hottest advanced nanotechnology which can “Racetrack Memory” (RM).

The basic idea relies on U-shaped nanowires that are arranged perpendicular to the surface of a chip. Bits are stored at the magnetic domain wall (DW) along the length of U-shaped nanowires. Bits can be read or written at the base of 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.

With this technology, the device about a 3.5inches floppy disk can store up to 1TB (1000GB).

As current pulse is used to moved the bits around the U-shaped nanowires, there is no moving parts in the device, which eliminate the problem of fatigue and wearout, same as modern day flash drive.

Besides, it overcome the problems of common flash drive: limited lifetime and asymmetrical write/read speed. Flash drive has the lifetime about 10,000 – 100,000 writes due to sending large voltage into a cell will degrade it mechanically. The write speed is also 1000 times slower than its read speed.

The main problem of the device is the heat. As in proposal, 1.6V current pulses are used to move around the bits in nanoseconds, a huge amount of heat will be generated which may destroy the wire.

This technology is estimated to be panned out into marketplace within this decade. Hopefully the heat problem, which is common for every electronic devices, could be handled well.

Let’s hope there is one day where we don’t have to bother about capacity and fragility for storage device.

Further study:

  1. Storing data in three dimensions with racetrack memory
  2. Wikipedia : Racetrack Memory
  3. Wikipedia: Spintronics

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