Nanowires to give computers "racetrack memory"

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Sydney, Feb 24 (ANI): A US researcher has determined that nanowires could be used to give "racetrack memory" to computers, namely, significantly boosting conventional RAM, resulting in computers that are ready the minute you turn them on, and don't lose data when the power fails.

According to a report in ABC Science, the US researcher in question is Dr Stuart Parkin, an IBM research fellow based in San Jose.

Current computers use solid state RAM to process data, but store data as magnetised regions on a hard disk drive.

"The problem is while hard disks are relatively economical, they are slow and unreliable," said Parkin.

It takes time for the disk to rotate to a point where data can be read or written.

This is one of the reasons why it can be slow for a computer to boot up, as it loads the software from the hard disk into the RAM.

The reading and writing gadget can also crash the disk causing catastrophic damage, and if the power fails, information in the RAM that has not been saved to the hard disk is lost.

Parkin said that racetrack memory would combine the low cost of a hard drive with the reliability and speed of RAM in a single solid-state device.

The result is RAM that is 100 times larger than currently available.

"All data would be stored instantaneously so it is not lost when power is removed from the computer," said Parkin.

"We're going to replace both the storage and the memory, if we're successful, with this one technology," he said.

"You will then have a homogeneous technology where you can store the data but you can also perform computations on the data because it's so fast and doesn't wear out like the cheap memories today, like flash (memory used in USB sticks)," he added.

According to Parkin, racetrack memory would make computers, simpler, smaller, more reliable, and more energy efficient as well as giving them much faster access to stored data.

"While conventional RAM uses a single layer of silicon, racetrack memory will use a three-dimensional system to store more information," he said.

Parkin is now involved in building a prototype racetrack memory device and hopes that it will be available in consumer products in 5 to 10 years. (ANI)

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