London, Apr 11 : It's time to bid adieu to the conventional methods of computer memory storage in RAM and hard disks, for IBM has finally demonstrated the first "racetrack" memory device, which can boost memory storage to almost 100 times.
It was four years ago that one of IBM's chief researchers, Stuart Parkin was hit by the idea to develop this new type of memory and patented it.
According to his calculations, this device could offer faster, cheaper and higher capacity storage than RAM or hard disk storage. But the technique behind this had not been demonstrated, until now.
While RAM is fast but expensive, and hard drives are slow but cheap, Parkin said that Racetrack memory would be both fast and cheap.
In racetrack memory, the bits - 1s and 0s - of data are stored in the tiny magnetic domains of a very thin U-shaped wire. They apply a magnetic field for writing data to the domains. Later, the pulsing current is passed through the wire, which pushes those domains along the track, along sensors that can read off the data.
However, till date, the researchers could just show that magnetic domains can be made to move along a wire and no one succeeded in writing and reading information stored in the domains.
But, this problem has now been solved for researchers have successfully built and operated the first ever racetrack memory device, which can store and read three bits of data using the racetrack method.
Del Atkinson of the University of Durham, a researcher in spintronics, supports this method.
"Up to this point, one of the outstanding issues for such a proposed memory has been whether multiple domain walls can be moved together by a current and maintain their integrity. This new research is the first demonstration that this process works," New Scientist magazine quoted him, as saying.
Now, Parkin hopes to develop a chip in which thousands of U-shaped racetracks operate together, in deep, 3D arrays. He explained that building memory chips in three dimensions should make it possible to pack more data into a smaller space.
"We really need to think of intelligent ways of using the third dimension in memory technologies. Racetrack memory is truly three-dimensional in concept," he said.