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"Magnetic Tornadoes" Could Offer New Data Storage Tech

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the where-your-data-stops-no-one-knows dept.

Data Storage 109

coondoggie writes to tell us about the latest technique researchers are investigating as a possible means to store data, magnetic tornadoes. "Conventional computer memories store data in "bits" that consist of two magnetic elements that record data in binary form. When these elements are magnetized in the same direction, the computer reads the bit as a '0'; when magnetized in opposite directions, the bit represents a '1,' researchers stated. According to scientists, a vortex forms spontaneously — one vortex per disk — in a small magnetic disk when the disk's diameter falls below a certain limit. Although the vortex does not whirl about like a meteorological tornado, the atoms in the material do orient themselves so that their magnetic states, or 'moments,' point either clockwise or counterclockwise around the disk's surface. At the center of the disk, the density of this rotation causes the polarity of the vortex core to point either up out of the disk or down like a tornado's funnel, researchers stated. Because the vortices that form on the disks contain two independently controllable and accessible magnetic parameters, they could form the basis for quaternary bits that would contain data written as a 0, 1, 2, or 3."

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109 comments

LHC (5, Funny)

tritonman (998572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698327)

How do we know these magnetic tornadoes won't grow and destroy our trailer parks?????

Moo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26698783)

First they have to be big enough to have a cow, man.

Easy (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#26699029)

you just use one of the magnetic mirrors (slashdot a few days ago) that creates a monopole field. The tornadoes will be repelled by the induced image monopoles.

Stuff and nonsense (2, Funny)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 5 years ago | (#26700685)

And what if we scare robots into killing all the humans? Doesn't anyone remember how scared Bender was when he saw a 2 amidst all those 0s and 1s in that nightmare?

Re:LHC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26702277)

At least I will be safe in my mom's basement!

And a 1, 2, 3? (1)

agnosticanarch (105861) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698347)

Logic just became _extra_ fuzzy.

Re:And a 1, 2, 3? (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 5 years ago | (#26700663)

The binary would be the same. Instead you have 2 "dots" to make a byte instead of 8 "dots".

Re:And a 1, 2, 3? (2, Informative)

Chris Daniel (807289) | more than 5 years ago | (#26701075)

That would be four quaternary bits to make a byte, I believe.

2^8 = 256 possible values (binary; 8 places, 2 possible values each)
4^4 = 256 possible values (quaternary; 4 places, 4 possible values each)

Your official guide to the Jigaboo presidency (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26698365)

Congratulations on your purchase of a brand new nigger! If handled properly, your apeman will give years of valuable, if reluctant, service.

INSTALLING YOUR NIGGER.
You should install your nigger differently according to whether you have purchased the field or house model. Field niggers work best in a serial configuration, i.e. chained together. Chain your nigger to another nigger immediately after unpacking it, and don't even think about taking that chain off, ever. Many niggers start singing as soon as you put a chain on them. This habit can usually be thrashed out of them if nipped in the bud. House niggers work best as standalone units, but should be hobbled or hamstrung to prevent attempts at escape. At this stage, your nigger can also be given a name. Most owners use the same names over and over, since niggers become confused by too much data. Rufus, Rastus, Remus, Toby, Carslisle, Carlton, Hey-You!-Yes-you!, Yeller, Blackstar, and Sambo are all effective names for your new buck nigger. If your nigger is a ho, it should be called Latrelle, L'Tanya, or Jemima. Some owners call their nigger hoes Latrine for a joke. Pearl, Blossom, and Ivory are also righteous names for nigger hoes. These names go straight over your nigger's head, by the way.

CONFIGURING YOUR NIGGER
Owing to a design error, your nigger comes equipped with a tongue and vocal chords. Most niggers can master only a few basic human phrases with this apparatus - "muh dick" being the most popular. However, others make barking, yelping, yapping noises and appear to be in some pain, so you should probably call a vet and have him remove your nigger's tongue. Once de-tongued your nigger will be a lot happier - at least, you won't hear it complaining anywhere near as much. Niggers have nothing interesting to say, anyway. Many owners also castrate their niggers for health reasons (yours, mine, and that of women, not the nigger's). This is strongly recommended, and frankly, it's a mystery why this is not done on the boat

HOUSING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger can be accommodated in cages with stout iron bars. Make sure, however, that the bars are wide enough to push pieces of nigger food through. The rule of thumb is, four niggers per square yard of cage. So a fifteen foot by thirty foot nigger cage can accommodate two hundred niggers. You can site a nigger cage anywhere, even on soft ground. Don't worry about your nigger fashioning makeshift shovels out of odd pieces of wood and digging an escape tunnel under the bars of the cage. Niggers never invented the shovel before and they're not about to now. In any case, your nigger is certainly too lazy to attempt escape. As long as the free food holds out, your nigger is living better than it did in Africa, so it will stay put. Buck niggers and hoe niggers can be safely accommodated in the same cage, as bucks never attempt sex with black hoes.

FEEDING YOUR NIGGER.
Your Nigger likes fried chicken, corn bread, and watermelon. You should therefore give it none of these things because its lazy ass almost certainly doesn't deserve it. Instead, feed it on porridge with salt, and creek water. Your nigger will supplement its diet with whatever it finds in the fields, other niggers, etc. Experienced nigger owners sometimes push watermelon slices through the bars of the nigger cage at the end of the day as a treat, but only if all niggers have worked well and nothing has been stolen that day. Mike of the Old Ranch Plantation reports that this last one is a killer, since all niggers steal something almost every single day of their lives. He reports he doesn't have to spend much on free watermelon for his niggers as a result. You should never allow your nigger meal breaks while at work, since if it stops work for more than ten minutes it will need to be retrained. You would be surprised how long it takes to teach a nigger to pick cotton. You really would. Coffee beans? Don't ask. You have no idea.

MAKING YOUR NIGGER WORK.
Niggers are very, very averse to work of any kind. The nigger's most prominent anatomical feature, after all, its oversized buttocks, which have evolved to make it more comfortable for your nigger to sit around all day doing nothing for its entire life. Niggers are often good runners, too, to enable them to sprint quickly in the opposite direction if they see work heading their way. The solution to this is to *dupe* your nigger into working. After installation, encourage it towards the cotton field with blows of a wooden club, fence post, baseball bat, etc., and then tell it that all that cotton belongs to a white man, who won't be back until tomorrow. Your nigger will then frantically compete with the other field niggers to steal as much of that cotton as it can before the white man returns. At the end of the day, return your nigger to its cage and laugh at its stupidity, then repeat the same trick every day indefinitely. Your nigger comes equipped with the standard nigger IQ of 75 and a memory to match, so it will forget this trick overnight. Niggers can start work at around 5am. You should then return to bed and come back at around 10am. Your niggers can then work through until around 10pm or whenever the light fades.

ENTERTAINING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger enjoys play, like most animals, so you should play with it regularly. A happy smiling nigger works best. Games niggers enjoy include: 1) A good thrashing: every few days, take your nigger's pants down, hang it up by its heels, and have some of your other niggers thrash it with a club or whip. Your nigger will signal its intense enjoyment by shrieking and sobbing. 2) Lynch the nigger: niggers are cheap and there are millions more where yours came from. So every now and then, push the boat out a bit and lynch a nigger.

Lynchings are best done with a rope over the branch of a tree, and niggers just love to be lynched. It makes them feel special. Make your other niggers watch. They'll be so grateful, they'll work harder for a day or two (and then you can lynch another one). 3) Nigger dragging: Tie your nigger by one wrist to the tow bar on the back of suitable vehicle, then drive away at approximately 50mph. Your nigger's shrieks of enjoyment will be heard for miles. It will shriek until it falls apart. To prolong the fun for the nigger, do *NOT* drag him by his feet, as his head comes off too soon. This is painless for the nigger, but spoils the fun. Always wear a seatbelt and never exceed the speed limit. 4) Playing on the PNL: a variation on (2), except you can lynch your nigger out in the fields, thus saving work time. Niggers enjoy this game best if the PNL is operated by a man in a tall white hood. 5) Hunt the nigger: a variation of Hunt the Slipper, but played outdoors, with Dobermans. WARNING: do not let your Dobermans bite a nigger, as they are highly toxic.

DISPOSAL OF DEAD NIGGERS.
Niggers die on average at around 40, which some might say is 40 years too late, but there you go. Most people prefer their niggers dead, in fact. When yours dies, report the license number of the car that did the drive-by shooting of your nigger. The police will collect the nigger and dispose of it for you.

COMMON PROBLEMS WITH NIGGERS - MY NIGGER IS VERY AGGRESIVE
Have it put down, for god's sake. Who needs an uppity nigger? What are we, short of niggers or something?

MY NIGGER KEEPS RAPING WHITE WOMEN
They all do this. Shorten your nigger's chain so it can't reach any white women, and arm heavily any white women who might go near it.

WILL MY NIGGER ATTACK ME?
Not unless it outnumbers you 20 to 1, and even then, it's not likely. If niggers successfully overthrew their owners, they'd have to sort out their own food. This is probably why nigger uprisings were nonexistent (until some fool gave them rights).

MY NIGGER BITCHES ABOUT ITS "RIGHTS" AND "RACISM".
Yeah, well, it would. Tell it to shut the fuck up.

MY NIGGER'S HIDE IS A FUNNY COLOR. - WHAT IS THE CORRECT SHADE FOR A NIGGER?
A nigger's skin is actually more or less transparent. That brown color you can see is the shit your nigger is full of. This is why some models of nigger are sold as "The Shitskin".

MY NIGGER ACTS LIKE A NIGGER, BUT IS WHITE.
What you have there is a "wigger". Rough crowd. WOW!

IS THAT LIKE AN ALBINO? ARE THEY RARE?
They're as common as dog shit and about as valuable. In fact, one of them was President between 1992 and 2000. Put your wigger in a cage with a few hundred genuine niggers and you'll soon find it stops acting like a nigger. However, leave it in the cage and let the niggers dispose of it. The best thing for any wigger is a dose of TNB.

MY NIGGER SMELLS REALLY BAD
And you were expecting what?

SHOULD I STORE MY DEAD NIGGER?
When you came in here, did you see a sign that said "Dead nigger storage"? .That's because there ain't no goddamn sign.

There are 1 types of people who understand quints (3, Interesting)

neo (4625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698383)

I suppose you'll get some kind of increase in data storage this way, but wont read/write times be longer because you'll need to deal with translations between quaternary and binary?

Re:There are 1 types of people who understand quin (4, Interesting)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698503)

No, you can read it like two bits at once. Those bits would be actually separate channels for separate binary physical states, not one quaternary state.

Re:There are 1 types of people who understand quin (2, Interesting)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698515)

Data storage increase is the first thought I had. But if solid state drives win the drive war, at least at the consumer level, it may be irrelevant. It's not like your WD Caviar will magically harness the power of quarternarian tornadoes and jump from 100GB to [something] TB. Or more. I think it may require more than just a firmware update.

Re:There are 1 types of people who understand quin (3, Funny)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26700231)

Western Digital has been harnessing the power of data black holes for years...

Re:There are 1 types of people who understand quin (1)

NovaHorizon (1300173) | more than 5 years ago | (#26700447)

actually.. if you go from binary, to quantary values, a 1GB binary disk would become a 1 exabyte disk.

Re:There are 1 types of people who understand quin (1)

andy_t_roo (912592) | more than 5 years ago | (#26703731)

err, no. this technology would allow 2 bits to be stored in the place of 1 bit, doubling capacity.
So your 1GB disk would become a 2GB disk, with extra expensive funky read heads.

Re:There are 1 types of people who understand quin (2, Insightful)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698625)

but wont read/write times be longer because you'll need to deal with translations between quaternary and binary?

No, in fact an advancement such as this would halve the read/write times since twice as much information is read/write in each operation.

Re-discovering magnetic bubble memory (2, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698767)

This sounds a lot like magnetic bubble memory [wikipedia.org] that intel, fujitsu, IMB and TI made in the 1980s.

That too had multiple states per "bubble". However the higher-order bubbles were generally not used. The reason was, it was hard enough keeping the single bit (zeroth order mode) bubbles stable at high circulation and high density.

Since here the domains are fixed and the disk moves it might be easier to use higher order magnetic domain modes.

Re:Re-discovering magnetic bubble memory (3, Informative)

GameGod0 (680382) | more than 5 years ago | (#26699389)

This sounds a lot like magnetic bubble memory [wikipedia.org] that intel, fujitsu, IMB and TI made in the 1980s.

That too had multiple states per "bubble". However the higher-order bubbles were generally not used. The reason was, it was hard enough keeping the single bit (zeroth order mode) bubbles stable at high circulation and high density.

Since here the domains are fixed and the disk moves it might be easier to use higher order magnetic domain modes.

Magnetic vortices are significantly smaller than the bubbles in bubble memory. Because of this, there are no "higher order" states - you have 4 distinct magnetization states (CW/CCW, in/out), and there are no in-between states. The trick is figuring out how to get the switching speed down using exchange bias coupling and crazy anisotropy effects.

Re:Re-discovering magnetic bubble memory (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#26699567)

That makes no sense at all. First all you are saying is that lowest order state of the vortex has 4 modes. But Why can't I have folds on the vortex, just as one can have folds in a magnetic bubble, to make higher order states? e.g. instead of having a pair of dipoles one had a pair quadrupoles.

As for them being smaller than bubbles, I'm not sure how you know this. For example, vertical storage in harddisks (akin to bubbles) is denser than longitudunal storage (akin to vorticies).

Re:Re-discovering magnetic bubble memory (1)

GameGod0 (680382) | more than 5 years ago | (#26700269)

The lowest order state of the vortex has 4 modes because:
A) The demagnetizing field wants to minimize free magnetic poles at the surface of the element. This might be the largest contribution to the vorticity (ie. having all the spins aligned in a vortex minimizes the free poles at the surface).
B) There is a discontinuity at the center of the vortex when you look at in-plane magnetization. The spins at the center are frustrated and are forced out-of-plane.

What do you mean by "folds" on the vortex? Are you talking about impurities that would pin the field?

Don't confuse out-of-plane magnetization ("perpendicular storage") with bubble memory, they are not the same thing. (There's a reason one came much later than the other. I'd like to give you a better explanation than this, but I don't have a good reference handy. Can anyone dig something up?)

The sizes involved are indeed different, see [1] where the diameter of their elements is 700 nm, and contrast with [2] (bubble memory) where a 2x2um cell was used. Perhaps with larger circular elements you won't have a single-domain state (ie. no vortex).

... and please don't misunderstand me, I don't mean to start a flamewar. I wouldn't mind having a definitive answer to these questions too. If you can dig up any relevant papers or sources, I'd be interested to take a look at them. Thanks!

[1] http://scitation.aip.org/getabs/servlet/GetabsServlet?prog=normal&id=APPLAB000079000019003113000001&idtype=cvips&gifs=yes [aip.org]
[2] http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/246/4936/1400 [sciencemag.org]

Re:Re-discovering magnetic bubble memory (1)

assert(0) (913801) | more than 5 years ago | (#26701185)

The field wants! The spins are frustrated! Drop the animistic lingo please. This is physical abuse.

wont read/write times be longer (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 5 years ago | (#26699039)

Good question. Truthfully, even though I read the post several times, I still don't understand how it works. On the other hand, I can't wait to market tornado technology!

Re:Market! (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26700429)

+5 Informative on why lowly techs leave the actual tech and become PHB's.

"I don' wanna hear the incomprehensible crap. I'll be in my 2 hour marketing meeting wondering if we can strike deals with Frank Baum's estate."

Re:There are 1 types of people who understand quin (2, Informative)

Makoss (660100) | more than 5 years ago | (#26699317)

You might want to go look up the differences between MLC and SLC Flash.

It's just bit packing. For example (and ignoring many low level details*) your 512-byte sector would be stored in 2048 hardware bit buckets instead of 4096 individual storage quanta.

* For purposes of illustration and ignoring the smart little tricks of hardware reality.

The end of binary (0, Flamebait)

IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698389)

I don't see any uses of this if the bits are not in binary, we are too entrenched to write all new code that changes all of the math that has already been worked out.

Re:The end of binary (1)

Crookdotter (1297179) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698545)

I assume all that would be in the HDD driver side, and automatic, just a stream of bytes in and out but the byte storage different.

I'm suprised it's taken so long to get multiple magnetisation strategies to achieve more data density.

Re:The end of binary (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698547)

[sarcasm]
Oh, I write all my numbers in hex. I hope I don't have to deal with one of those quaternary or your binary systems...
[/sarcasm]

Re:The end of binary (3, Insightful)

xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D (1160707) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698833)

Oh. My. God. This got an insightful modification? What has happened to Slashdot? Are we now people so un-nerd-like that we don't even realize a quarternary digit is 2 binary digits?

Re:The end of binary (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698985)

Worst yet, we'll all have to get new t-shirts that say "There are only 100 types of people..." And my binary one was just getting comfy, sigh.

Re:The end of binary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26699473)

Worst yet, we'll all have to get new t-shirts that say "There are only 100 types of people..." And my binary one was just getting comfy, sigh.

The shirts would still say 10 and the joke wouldn't make sense.

In a base four number system 10q = 4d. In fact in any numbering system 10 is the symbol for the base of the system. Thus 10b = 2, 10q = 4, 10o = 8 and 10d = 10.

(Posting anonymously because I'm being such a pedantic jerk about this.)

Re:The end of binary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26699713)

"There are only 100 types of people..."

I don't get it. What are the 16 types of people?

Re:The end of binary (4, Informative)

raijinsetsu (1148625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26699257)

Quaternary would directly translate from binary. No fuzzy math needed.

00b=0q
01b=1q
10b=2q
11b=3q

Each quaternary bit would store two binary bits, all translated by the device. Bytes would still be 8 binary bits, but only 4 quaternary bits. Much easier than translating between trinary and binary...

And, as they are talking about storage medium, NOT processors, there's no need to recompile. Just have the device handle the translation, much in the same way it's done for CDs and flash memory.

Re:The end of binary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26699415)

in other words, we've finally got the correct translation to the age old question (At least posed by Bill Cosby) - what's a qbit?

sorry - sort of stumbled onto that one - should have left it alone...

Re:The end of binary (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 5 years ago | (#26703833)

And besides, we don't store the plain 0's and 1's from your binary file on the disk. There's an extra layer of encoding to make sure there are no long runs of 0's or 1's and to add some error correction coding.

Encoding a binary stream into these 4 states (clockwise, counter-clockwise, in, out) might have even more complex rules. Like maybe you can't record two of these "tornadoes" next to each other unless the directions are opposite. Who knows how many data bits you could actually store per magnetic bit.

"Quaternary bits"? (3, Informative)

XanC (644172) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698405)

Is a "quaternary bit" a "quaternary binary digit"? Doesn't make sense. I think you're after a "quaternary digit", or "quit".

Re:"Quaternary bits"? (3, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698457)

Is a "quaternary bit" a "quaternary binary digit"? Doesn't make sense. I think you're after a "quaternary digit", or "quit".

I like the sound of 'quigit'.

Re:"Quaternary bits"? (4, Funny)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698507)

Is a "quaternary bit" a "quaternary binary digit"? Doesn't make sense. I think you're after a "quaternary digit", or "quit".

I like the sound of 'quigit'.

Quigit eh? Quyte nice. You'll get no quyble from me.

Re:"Quaternary bits"? (2, Funny)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 5 years ago | (#26699403)

I call a base 4 digit a Quatloo.

Great for storing extended bools, such as {false, true, maybe, File Not Found}

Re:"Quaternary bits"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26700971)

You and the other daily wtf readers laugh, but there is such a thing as three-valued logic. Heck, there are continuous logics, where a truth value can be any real number between 0 and 1.

Once you have a Boolean lattice, you have the basis for a logic.

Re:"Quaternary bits"? (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698821)

I like the sound of 'quigit'.

A thousand times no, there's fewer good puns with that than "bit." Quit is okay as far as the pun test goes.

Quata (from quaternary data) also works, though it is of course less accurate. Small price to pay though, you can get puns off of "quarter" and/or "water."

I think we need to establish from the get-go that no matter what we call it, the most important thing is that computer teachers in high schools can make lame puns for their students to groan about.

Re:"Quaternary bits"? (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26699127)

Is a "quaternary bit" a "quaternary binary digit"? Doesn't make sense. I think you're after a "quaternary digit", or "quit". I like the sound of 'quigit'.

So the question is: How many songs fit in a 2 Gigaquigit (2GQ) drive?

Re:"Quaternary bits"? (1)

EchaniDrgn (1039374) | more than 5 years ago | (#26699217)

Great, we skipped over the shortened form of the trit, and went straight on to quits. Killing the time spent making bad jokes about the shortened trit and keeping our development on pace. Yay!

Re:Trit! (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26700539)

What if one of the 4 slots is deliberately miscoded? Do I feel some beautiful encryption coming on?

You read the quad as a holistic unit. If you read it clockwise it comes out one way and if you read it counterclockwise it comes out another, with the same hard data stored.

It's Kurt Godel's Next Generation Dream.

Remember the old trick of chaining two registers in the 6502 days? If you chain two of these Qritters together, can we get a Klein twist?

Sorry, I'm feeling there's like a terabyte of storage AND processing instructions buried in here.

Has no one watched Stargate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26698459)

The future is in crystals!!!

yo dawg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26698539)

yo dawg, heard you like bits... so we put some bits in your bits so you could read bits while you read bits

I read this as "magnetic tomatoes" (3, Funny)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698575)

I was really confused for about 5 minutes.

Re:I read this as "magnetic tomatoes" (1)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698845)

I'm guessing Fozzie Bear would appreciate magnetic tomatoes -- especially if they were self-throwing.

-l

Information Theory? (3, Interesting)

Ristoril (60165) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698641)

I read an article about Information Theory [wikipedia.org] a long, long time ago (which is probably why I can't Google it) wherein the authors demonstrated that the most efficient means of storing information would be by using an alphabet that had e (2.71828183) letters.

It was pretty interesting and has been stuck in my head. In any event, they surmised further that the closest we could get would be if we came up with some sort of trinary alphabet. They also opined that we were damned lucky to have binary as it's the next-most-efficient alphabet.

Re:Information Theory? (1)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698765)

this doesnt seem too hard to me, if its all done by magnetic polarisation, why would it be hard to have -1,0, and +1, afaik binary was first used to ensure no ambiguity in the state of some electronic component, it was either on or off, since we have advanced, what is it that stops us from moving to trits, other than the ingrained use of bis, is there some technological issue that makes it impractical?

Re:Information Theory? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698933)

The reason we use binary in our computers because it is simpler by far to make a circuit that goes all on or all off, than to make a circuit that has three, or four, or e, or pi distinct voltages. It has nothing to do with information theory efficiency.

Re:Information Theory? (1)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 5 years ago | (#26699037)

i dont see that 3 distinct voltages is hard, because you could have 0, and +/-x, aslong as the circuit is ok with voltages of both signs, good for capacitorsm resistors, not good for diodes, i dont know enough about computer circuitry to know how often components of any particular type are used

Re:Information Theory? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26700737)

The key component in digital circuits is the transistor. Like a diode it only conducts electricity in one direction, so that shoots the -x,0,+x idea out the window. Transistors are essentially amplifiers. By adjusting the physical characteristics, you can "tune" a transistor so that its output is essentially all on or all off. This helps to prevent data loss. Even if the voltage drops between devices, or stages, of the circuit anything close to +5v gets boosted to +5v, anything close to 0v gets dropped to 0v. Transistors are also fairly "linear" in their responsiveness. In order to use multiple values you'd have to have a device that has a stepped respose. There is no simple semiconductor as far as I know that will give you a stepped response.

Re:Information Theory? (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 5 years ago | (#26701093)

Like a diode it only conducts electricity in one direction, so that shoots the -x,0,+x idea out the window.

Uh, no it doesn't.

This is how CMOS gates work... using P-types and N-types to handle the different voltage "paths". Hell, this is how most modern amplifiers work. Remember how sinusoidal voltages are both positive and negative?

And you don't want a "linear" transistor as a switch. Good thing switching transistors are nowhere near linear.

Re:Information Theory? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26703485)

This is how CMOS gates work... using P-types and N-types to handle the different voltage "paths".

If you use opposite types, you can handle opposite voltages, but each single transister only allows current in one direction, does it not? Anyway, if you need a P-type and an N-type, you are doubling the component count.

And you don't want a "linear" transistor as a switch. Good thing switching transistors are nowhere near linear.

Okay. My bad. I'm just an amateur. I was picturing that they just set up the transistor so that the linear part was pretty much vertical. In other words you get zero current through until you hit that spot, then you get maximum current, and you wouldn't see any in-between current levels unless you were at just the right voltage. A fraction of a volt either way would be 0 or 1.

soviets and the impracticallity of trinary logic (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#26699213)

Their is an apocryphal story that the soviets invested heavily in ternary logic and it was physically to hard to implement that it set them back a decade.

At the time, most memory was static memory which draws a current even in the quiescent state. it's easy to think about binary currents, they go one way or the other. What's a trinary current?

  Much much later on memory went to charge storage (dynamic memory). This only drew current during switching but none when it was quiescent.

This memory stored levels of charge. You could imaging this might be much easier to implement multiple bits. However, then you would have had to have some way of modulating the amount of charge delivered instead of just opening a gate and letting the capacitor fully charge. In most cases the obvious idea of reverse polarizing the capacitor would make no sense from the point of view of the transitors unidirectionality.

so trinary logic never made any hardware sense.

in the physical world where we have X and Y and sometimes Z, all the modes tend to be multiples of 2 naturally (+/-x +/-y +/i z).

trinary logic makes little practical sense.

Re:soviets and the impracticallity of trinary logi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26700455)

You realize that some of those fancy SSD Flash drives use "MLC" flash. Multi-Level Cell's. That means they store more than 1 bit per cell with 4 voltage levels encoding two bits. Different charge levels are implemented by using different current and/or time parameters when charging the gate.

There is work on using 8 voltages to encode 3 bits to further improve the data density.

Re:Information Theory? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26699463)

I remember seeing this sort of thing discussed a long time ago. The thinking was to find themost economical way of storing/writing numbers, eg what is the most efficient base to use. Base 2 only needs two characters, but needs a long nubmer to store much data. Base 10 needs more characters but the nubmers end up much shorter. So which is best is going to depend on the relative cost of adding more places in the number or more characters in the storage set. If you make the assumption that either has the same cost, then e would be the optimum base to use. This does of course ignore the fact that a noninteger base is totally inconvenient to use, especially for integer numbers. Practically we are stuck with integer bases, so under the above assumption 3 would be the most economical. However, in real life the assumption does not hold true. For human counting it turns out to be easy to have more characters, so we have settled on base ten. We need more characters, 10 to be precise, but the numbers end up very short. Meanwhile, for machine based systems, it turns out to be generally simpler to stick to two characters (on, off) and simply add more places to get numbers of the desired length...8, 16, 32, and now 64 bits. (nothing stopping us having other lengths but powers of two are of course convenient.) If we did go to a three state logic, the circuits would become much more complex, and in practice two two-state circuits would be simpler than one three state.

Re:Information Theory? (2, Interesting)

MarkPNeyer (729607) | more than 5 years ago | (#26701793)

It's pretty easy to derive this result.

Suppose you have an alphabet with 'S' different Symbols. There are S^N possible strings of length N. The authors say of that paper claim that the difficulty in reading an N digit string is proportional to the product SN. Therefore, what we'd like to do is minimize the product SN while keeping S^N Constant.

That means we define k = S^N, and therefore ln k = N ln S, so N = (ln k / ln S). That means we're trying to choose an S to minimize f(S) = S * (ln k / ln S).

If f(S) = (S / ln S) * ln(k), then
f'(S) = (S*(-1/S) + + ln(-S))* ln k
f'(S) = (-1 + ln(-S)) * ln k

The function reaches its minimum when the derviative is 0, so:

0 = (-1 + ln(-S))* ln k
1 = ln(-S)
1 = 1/ln(S)
ln(S) = 1
S = e

Disks may stop being drives (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698691)

Depending on the actual tech, I'm imagining a system where the magnetics are laid down with a rotating magnetic field rather than a rotating disk.

If possible, this would lead to magnetic disks without moving parts.

summary error (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26698699)

Quote: Conventional computer memories store data in "bits" that consist of two magnetic elements that record data in binary form. When these elements are magnetized in the same direction, the computer reads the bit as a "0"; when magnetized in opposite directions, the bit represents a "1," researchers stated.

I didn't read TFA, but 'conventional' method looks like a way of storing 4 states in one memory cell...

Keep on researching the wheel

Re:summary error (1)

sraak (557865) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698937)

no. and yes.

two magnetic elements. reading:
0) same direction = 0
1) opposite direction =1

they do not have 00, 01, 10 and 11 states, which would be four states.

elements are read in an "old-fashioned" way, they probably _could_ be read in all four states, but they are not.

Tornadoes, of course (4, Funny)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698737)

Why didn't I think of that? Tornadoes, in retrospect, seem like the PERFECT place to put my ordered data.

Re:Tornadoes, of course (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26698915)

Both storage and retrieval of data is simple. Retrieving data in the same order in which it was stored, maybe not so much.

One vortex per disk (1)

PetiePooo (606423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698975)

According to scientists, a vortex forms spontaneously - one vortex per disk - in a small magnetic disk when the disk's diameter falls below a certain limit.

So my 750GB drive is now 750GB plus one. Big deal!

Am I missing something?

Re:One vortex per disk (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26699305)

I certainly hope you were trying for funny, because if not, yes, you are missing something.

They're not talking a physical platter (besides, your 750GB drive probably has 3 or 4 of those). They're talking about the actual magnetic area that holds each bit currently.

Re:One vortex per disk (1)

inputdev (1252080) | more than 5 years ago | (#26699743)

This wasn't clear to me either, why do they refer to the area holding a bit as a disk? Are they basically saying that you can store 2 bits for every bit by looking at something other than the direction of a magnetic moment? Even that doesn't sound so amazing - seems like it'd be easier to make your magnetic bits smaller, or use something else entirely.

Re:One vortex per disk (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26700555)

You're taking the exact same storage size areas that are on a disk now and effectively doubling the amount of information they can hold. How does that not sound amazing?

You kids are really missing out! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26699675)

Magnetic tomatoes. Heh.

Is that a new idea? (1)

furanku (900476) | more than 5 years ago | (#26699937)

I don't think that just calling the well known spin-vortices lurid "magnetic tornados" make this a new idea. Gimme one penny for every magnetic or two level or ... system that physicist (I am one of them ...) proposed to be a candidate for groundbreaking new storage systems and I'd be a rich man. At least to my knowledge these spin-vortices are hard to control and often appear as an unwanted effect in domain wall based storage devices in developmen, like IBMs race track RAM. We'll see if we hear more of that idea, but the silly name "magnetic tornados" makes me skeptical that this is just getting public attention for getting research grants.

Wow, wonder if they considered this? (1)

rgviza (1303161) | more than 5 years ago | (#26700035)

quaternary bits that would contain data written as a 0, 1, 2, or 3
-----
This would open the door for double density binary storage per magnetic bit as well as adding ternary/quaternary capability.

a 0 on top of a 0 could be 0, a 0 on top of 1 could be 1, a 1 on top of 0 could be 2, and a 1 on top of 1 could be 3.

And ternary/quaternary data would be the usual one bit per particle.

That's just amazing flexibility...

-Viz

Ternary/Quaternary (1)

rgviza (1303161) | more than 5 years ago | (#26700203)

For anyone confused about what ternary and quaternary states are, here's a paper on a ternary machine... There actually was a couple of ternary computers built but they never left the university stage...

http://www.computer-museum.ru/english/setun.htm [computer-museum.ru]

With this storage it would become more practical to build ternary machines which greatly simplify computing.

The ramifications for artificial intelligence are astounding... Think of the number of transistors required to be reduced by a factor of 7, and look at what we could do with current chip manufacturing methods, and you can see the advantages of ternary design over binary. The power requirements are also sharply reduced.

It's pretty crazy... Check out the references at the bottom of the link. One is in English, the other is in Russian.

-Viz

Re:Ternary/Quaternary (1)

jhfry (829244) | more than 5 years ago | (#26700533)

Except AFAIK there aren't any solid state circuit elements that deal well with three states.

I personally like analog for AI. For example, for recognition of similar objects... one could assume that two trees would have a similar analog signature if scanned with a radar/sonar/3d imaging type device. That's how some radar systems can identify an object purely based upon it's radar signature. For example the AWACS uses an analog computer to process its radar signals.

Re:Ternary/Quaternary (1)

rgviza (1303161) | more than 5 years ago | (#26700995)

That was kinda my point. With native ternary (or better storage) it might make sense to develop ternary (or better) semiconductors since you'd need fewer components and the power consumption goes down. Going quaternary might give a similar improvement over ternary to going ternary over binary. In the mean time you could take advantage of having 4 states per particle to improve the storage density of binary data enabling the storage tech to be usable to it's potential (and profitable!) in the mean time ;)

Prolly won't happen though, it's a binary world and with the state of the world economy, developing earth shaking tech probably isn't in anyone's budgetary capability and risk tolerance. This is star trek stuff ;) You'd need a completely new instruction set, architecture etc. people would have to develop an OS, compiler (language?) etc for that kind of processor. We'd be starting over from scratch.

But how do you read and write the data ? (1)

gb (8474) | more than 5 years ago | (#26700359)

Ok, so I know that a magnetic disc around 100-200nm in diameter will have a vortex domain structure (actually - I don't magnetic nano-rings tend to form onion states, but we'll leave that one for now). I know I can set the vortex state by hitting it with a high intensity laser circularly polarised laser pulse and apply a small +-z magnetic field to set the in/out state. But reading it needs some fancy focussed magneto-optical kerr effect kit and a lot of patience and re-writing the data is tricky - you have to de-magnetise the nano-disc and start over.

Seems a lot of effort for only a factor two increase and a technology that still requires moving parts to move the data element and read head into alignment.

I hate to do this, really... (3, Funny)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26700525)

Aunt E&M! Aunt E&M! There's no place like Ohm!

So I'm guessing the strength of these magnetic gales would be measured in Henries? ... I could go on...

Point of Failure (2)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 5 years ago | (#26701137)

With current hard disks if your drive is fubar, you have some chance of recovery of data. What happens if the disk stops on these drives and the magnetic vortex disappears?

Four (1)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26702289)

The bits all go to four. Look, right across the board, four, four, four and...

Oh, I see. And most bits go up to two?

Exactly.

Does that mean it's bigger? Is it any bigger?

Well, it's two bigger, isn't it? It's not two. You see, most geeks, you know, will be running at two. You're on two here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on two on your chips. Where can you go from there? Where?

I don't know.

Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?

Put it up to four.

Four. Exactly. Two bigger.

Why don't you just use twos and have twice as many twos and make it just as big?

[pause] These go to four.

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