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Scientist Uses Nanodots To Create 4Tb Storage Chip

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the small-is-the-new-big dept.

Hardware 207

arcticstoat writes "Solid state disks could soon catch up with mechanical hard drives in terms of cost and capacity, thanks to a new data-packed chip developed by a scientist at the University of North Carolina. Using a uniform array of 10nm nanodots, each of which represents a single bit, Dr. Jay Narayan created a data density of 1 terabit per square centimeter. The end result was a 4cm2 chip that holds 4Tb of data (512GB), but the university says that the nanodots could have a diameter of just 6nm, enabling an even greater data density. The university explains that the nanodots are 'made of single, defect-free crystals, creating magnetic sensors that are integrated directly into a silicon electronic chip.' Dr. Narayan says he expects the technology overtaking traditional solid state disk technology within the next five years."

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How long... (4, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072266)

...until I can get a decent (120GB+) sized SSD that doesn't cost as much as a new video card?

3 ... 2 ... 1 ... (4, Informative)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072452)

I suppose that depends on which video cards [newegg.com] and SSDs [newegg.com] you use.

Re:How long... (1)

davepermen (998198) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073024)

who cares? as long as it gives you the biggest perceived boost in performance ever, and thus is worth more than buying a new computer that costs at least 3 - 4 times as much, the ssd still is cheap. which is why i bought ssds for all my systems at home, except the windowshomeserver, as performance doesn't matter there. you can show me any expensive computer out there, and they all are the same to me: slow. believing it to be expensive is not understanding their worth.

Re:How long... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32073110)

But WHY should it not be that price?

SSDs are
1) new (ish)
2) targeted towards portables mostly, or those who require high-bandwidth applications
3) require quite a bit complicated engineering compared to an HDD due to densities

Point 2 is the most important of these, SSDs, while an inevitable goal of computing, are currently targeted to more specialized markets.
These 2 being portable hardware like netbooks, or multimedia / database types who require high bandwidth and high uptime. (not so much with the initial SSDs... oh boy that was a minor catastrophe)
The ones for multimedia and databases usually just went with DRAM drives or RAIDs for speed.
Either way, just like GPUs, they are a very specific market they are targeted at currently, the ones they know will pay more to get a huge boost in performance.

Nanodots? ..b-bots? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072274)

I read nanodots as nanobots...

Re:Nanodots? ..b-bots? (0, Offtopic)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072416)

These nanites are evolving at a tremendous pace!

Re:Nanodots? ..b-bots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072646)

I read nanodots as nanobots...

Try reading a book once in a while, it helps improve your reading comprehension.

Dear Slashdot,


The jokes that go "I read something that was clearly not there so it doesn't say that but wouldn't it be funny/great/novel if it did, haha mod me up to +5 funny now kthx" got old a long time ago.

Wow (2, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072276)

My first PC had 4k of RAM. I should be used to this type of growth by now... but it still makes my heart race a bit when I see ever increasing memory capacity in an ever decreasing form size.

I'll tell my grandkids about my first PC and they will roll their eyes as they leave my retirement home...

Re:Wow (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072552)

Problem is most software developers and OS makers also race to consume that memory. Honestly all the software today is a bloated blob that is horribly unoptimized for speed and efficiency.

It's disgusting how bloated most stuff is because we have 4gig of ram and 2 2.5ghz processors... why make it leand and mean? it compiles, ship it.

Re:Wow (1)

nomorecwrd (1193329) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072690)

Yeah!... I still remember those crappy games I played on my Atari 2600.

but... with time, graphics, sound, and everything got a LOT better. Same machine, same hardware, same everything.
Programmers finally did incredible things with just 8KB , 1MHz processor
With today's pace of technology, there is no time to think and squeeze the hardware to it's limits, 'cuz once you start getting to know what you have in your hands, it is time to move to the next generation of tech.

Just my two pesos

Re:Wow (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073494)

You can't do that on today's hardware because of a couple of reasons:

1) the algorithms that are efficient are now well known, and taught at the university level. This means there is less room for improvement.

2) compilers are really good now. So you can't squeeze much out of careful assembly. In fact, there are only a handful of people in the world who can output better machine code than a modern compiler, and only with many hours of investment. So again, there is a lot less room for improvement.

3) the hardware capabilities are too good. With the 2600, you could have only 4 colors on screen. But then people found tricks to get 6 colors, and that was a 50% improvement. Today you can have more colors than the human eye can discern. No trick you can come up with can make any improvement.

Re:Wow (4, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072780)

why make it leand and mean? it compiles, ship it.

And what's the answer to your question?

If it works, why optimize it? To save in storage space? How much would I be saving? 10$ in storage space for every hour of optimization?

It's not art, it's a business. You could as well ask why we don't replace steel by titanium in cars.

Re:Wow (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073192)

Indeed it is business, but it's also marketing. Sure, at home, I like digital photos, watching movies on my computer, etc, but the sad reality is that in your traditional every-day book-keeping style business, we're doing a lot of the same stuff that we were doing on computer 20+ years ago (evidenced by the fact that in a lot of cases the same COBOL programs running the servers back then are STILL running the servers now). It's just that marketing and increasing software bloat have convinced everyone that we now need a 3Ghz Quad Core with 4GB of RAM and a 2TB hard drive to do the exact same tasks that a 75 Mhz Pentium with an 800MB hard drive and 16MB of RAM once did - and with all the bloat it's not even doing it any faster!

The first time I tried BeOS for example was on an 550Mhz Celeron (overclocked), with 256MB of RAM. That system, over 10 years ago, still blows away anything I've used since in raw speed and performance. We should get benefits from newer, faster hardware. Instead we get increasingly lazy programmers and zero net benefit in speed, but with all the negative costs of new equipment purchases.

Re:Wow (2, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073310)

We should get benefits from newer, faster hardware. Instead we get increasingly lazy programmers and zero net benefit in speed, but with all the negative costs of new equipment purchases.

We do get benefits from newer, faster hardware. The possibility of hiring cheaper, less prepared, programmers.

Re:Wow (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32073258)

If it works, why optimize it?

To make it quicker. You may think that you have 1 GB of RAM available and a 2GHz CPU, but the L2 cache in a modern processor will only hold about 4MB--fetching data or insns from main memory might require as much as 100 CPU cycles. And that's before considering virtual memory, which requires millions of cycles to access.

Re:Wow (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073356)

To make it quicker. You may think that you have 1 GB of RAM available and a 2GHz CPU, but the L2 cache in a modern processor will only hold about 4MB--fetching data or insns from main memory might require as much as 100 CPU cycles. And that's before considering virtual memory, which requires millions of cycles to access.

Making it quicker is not a good enough result to pay the extra expenses of having to hire better programmers.

The current situation (bloated apps that only work on expensive hardware) is the optimal one, in terms of development cost vs results, with the current technology.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072804)

There is alot of caching and look-ahead optimization going on in some software that results in alot of data being generated and stored "at the ready". It is all in the interest of improving performance so that you have less lag/stuttering from waiting for network and/or hard drive IO. For computer games there is alot of artwork(models, animations, textures) and audio that is loaded, so of course with higher quality graphics you will see greater memory usage.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072822)

in general everything you say is true, esp regarding consumer software.

Some of us are working to shrink some of those codebases in the enterprise space as it pays to shrink your footprint. Why use 5 machines to host 1000 users if you can host 5,000 on 1? The cost savings and scalability are worth the effort. (and yes, I was involved in a project with that scale factor - 1000s of machines reduced to less than 100)

Re:Wow (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072844)

I kind of agree, for some things anyway. Microsoft's Office is one of those. Word, Excel, Powerpoint -- they haven't significantly changed since Office 97. I mean, they are what they are. More wizards now, different toolbar, prettier graphs. But Office 97 was enough for 99% of the users. Email is the same way -- why does Thunderbird take 113 MB of memory to run, when it doesn't do much more than the 500K of Pegasus mail back in 1994. Web sites are definitely more complex, but Firefox is running at 350 MB right now...I don't think Half Life 2 consumed that much memory.

There are lots of examples of better programs, but it generally matters how in depth you get with them. Photoshop's layers, introduced in version 3 back in the 90s, made the program infinitely more useful than without layers. Since then...I don't use it a whole lot, but I think I could probably still get by with Version 3: layers, colors, basic filters.

Re:Wow (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072902)

Re:Wow (1)

tuomoks (246421) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073434)

Yes and no - I agree with Joel if the goal is to benefit (money?) one person or a small group. Now - if the benefits would be for larger group or even nations, whatever - per / use, etc cost structure is totally different. An interesting question, will never be solved, LOL!

On the other hand - I think it also has something to do with laziness and ignorance? Using ready made packages, objects, APIs, etc doesn't require even near the same skills as creating something yourself. Nothing (much) wrong in that, that's the way today, but really, I wouldn't call people doing that "developers" or even worse, "architects" !! They were called at one time coders and when growing up a little, programmers - not much waited from them except following orders, as today!

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072960)

why make it leand and mean? it compiles, ship it.

Why check for misspellings and comma splices? If it gets past the lameness filter, submit it.

Re:Wow (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072984)

I know, it physically disgusts me that developers don't limit themselves to writing Space Invaders and Pacman on quad core 4GB machines, but instead chose to actually use all that memory and processing power. Pass me a bucket someone, I'm going to hurl.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32073514)

Poser.

Get a clue to what he is actually saying. Oh wait you are one of those fake programmers that cant program your ass out of a wet paper bag.

Lumpy is dead on. Write then optimize, not write a prototype and ship it.

Only no skill, ankle biter, wannabe's program the way modern commercial software is written. I have looked at a lot of code over my past 20 years as a programmer. The utter crap you kids churn out is exactly that.

Complete and utter crap. Go back to school and learn from a professor that is not an idiot.

Re:Wow (3, Informative)

divisionbyzero (300681) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073042)

Problem is most software developers and OS makers also race to consume that memory. Honestly all the software today is a bloated blob that is horribly unoptimized for speed and efficiency.

It's disgusting how bloated most stuff is because we have 4gig of ram and 2 2.5ghz processors... why make it leand and mean? it compiles, ship it.

Sounds like a reasonable outcome of a cost/benefit analysis. Since when is efficiency an end in itself?

Re:Wow (1)

tuomoks (246421) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073178)

It's called betterment, "sometimes, you have to make sacrifices for the betterment of the entire group" - really? Yeah, nobody has been able to show what has been gained since we had for ex. 512KB memory for 2000+ online users? Processing is much faster today, response times 10+ times slower?? Same processing - the business hasn't changed? Nice pictures(?) - actually using nice graphical (and expensive) terminals - about the same! Yes, the price of hardware has gone down and a lot but do we really have to waste it?

Agreed, it really is disgusting to look some(?) code today! On the other hand - I have won all the bets making systems (big / huge ones!) 2 times faster in response times and using half the memory and half the cpu (all three!) last 20 years, easily - LOL! SO - there are some benefits in ignorance, at least for me! Also - a side issue but the bloat has created (is creating!) a huge amount of security problems! Instead of knowing and thinking using (badly) made libraries, objects, APIs, whatever has never been a good idea but I digress!

Re:Wow (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073354)

That's really an urban legend. Most software today is well optimized. It just does much, much more than software did in the past. It uses more memory because many algorithms are trading memory for cpu because memory is cheaper, or memory for disk access because disk accesses didn't keep up with the pace of advancement in cpu and memory (by a couple of orders of magnitude over the last couple of decades).

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32073380)

My first storage was 80K hard sectored floppies that cost $8/per.

I snarfed up a used 20M HD a few years later for $600 and it lasted several years. Even ended up on a BBS of mine.

First modem was 256pbs but I could only get 128 reliably. But, I could download nice utilities that were 2K. So, avoided giving whole paycheck to ATT (no free LD)

First computer held 4K of RAM.

Do I want to go back? Give me a break.

Re:Wow (4, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072636)

It may be peaking soon though. 6nm is getting close to physical maximums for most techniques due to the casimir effect. Techniques that push chips from 2d into 3d will be the next useful improvement. But after that point we have run out of easy options.

Increasing speed of chips and ram could help relieve that pressure mind you. As programmers can tade off more processing for less drive usage, or count on faster ram and compress everything. This will give us a bit more time. Beyond that we will simply have to get more inventive on how we use computers.

Very very fast internet could become important, if users feel they need access to 10million TB of data personally. That may not be physically feasible on a personal computer. So 'cloud' type services would be important. Having a few duplicates rather than 1million duplicates of any given song is clearly a big improvement. This of course feeding into the idea that when we made the internet we stopped making machines, we just started making components for the one ultimate computer. And when you think of it from that perspective there is tons of room for improvement even if some of the parts are nearing the useful maximums.

Re:Wow (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072872)

Would you need the 10million TB on yourself at all moments?

Maybe having a fridge sized data storage at home will become standard.

No need for such incredibly high speed communications if it's just for the volume that gets sent from your home computer to "personal" computer (the one you carry).

4Tb of data (512GB) (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072290)

Is that a new standard being used by the hard drive industry? Now, you can have FOUR Terrabyfes (very small font: 512GB) for $99.99

Re:4Tb of data (512GB) (5, Insightful)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072330)

4 Terabits = 512 Gigabytes.

Somewhat misleading? Yes. Inherently false? No.

Re:4Tb of data (512GB) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072768)

Or even tebibits and gibibytes, if you want. I suspect you don't, but they really make things clearer at times.

Re:4Tb of data (512GB) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072778)

I like the french word for Bytes. Octet. So there is no confusion between 4Tb and 4 To.

It's probably too late to change bytes to another word in english ;)

Re:4Tb of data (512GB) (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072838)

4 Terabits = 512 Gigabytes.

How much is that in Terribibits or Gibibybytes?

Re:4Tb of data (512GB) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32073334)

4 Terabits = 512 Gigabytes.

You're thinking of tebibits and gibibytes. The ratio is 4 to 500 with the units you used.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tebibit

Re:4Tb of data (512GB) (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072350)

Nah. If it were the hard drive industry, 4 Tb would be 500 GB.

Re:4Tb of data (512GB) (1)

thijsh (910751) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072830)

Nah, 4 Tb would be 454.7 Gb.

Re:4Tb of data (512GB) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32073148)

I think you made an error somewhere. I got this:
4Tb = 465.66 GB (or 500 marketing GB)

Re:4Tb of data (512GB) (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073612)

This is, in fact, the calculation used in the summary.

Bits are delimited in powers of 10, whereas bytes are delimited in powers of 2, hence:

4 Tb = 500 billion bytes.

In reality, 4Tb is more like 466 GB.

But practically speaking, with error correction and other overhead, 4Tb is closer to 400GB of useable space.

Re:4Tb of data (512GB) (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072384)

b (small "b") == "bits"
B (big "B") == "Bytes"

The hard drive industry isn't out to screw you. AFAIK, HDD storage has always been quoted in base 10 instead of base 2 (K=1,000 instead of 1,024, etc), but the difference was never really obvious until lately as the numbers got huge.

Re:4Tb of data (512GB) (1)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072598)

Talking about the capacities of single memory/storage chips, using losercase b (bit) figures has been the standard for years. Since only techies who care about the capacity of the actual chips read this, it's not that much of an issue.
As soon as you're talking about an assembled product (be it a RAM module, SSD or even a smartphone), it'll be B (for bytes) again.

Re:4Tb of data (512GB) (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073220)

Talking about the capacities of single memory/storage chips, using losercase b (bit) figures has been the standard for years.

Yes, and all it takes is one uninformed journalist, editor, or marketing agent to turn b into B, just like they turned 65536 into 65K back in the 1980s. You can't trust anything like this on the web unless it comes directly from the manufacturer, or they explicitly write out the words bits and bytes.

Re:4Tb of data (512GB) (1)

cyfer2000 (548592) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072656)

Game industry has been using bit instead of byte for years. And for memory chips (not memory modules), it has always been bit.

Re:4Tb of data (512GB) (1)

V!NCENT (1105021) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072730)

Hard drive industry? This is research... Given that each crystal is a bit, one terabits (one tera crystals) can be packed onto 1cm.

What's the problem?

marketing dishonesty and abbreviations (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072308)

Tb and TB. tera bits and tera bytes.

are you kidding me?

its one thing to have an honest debate about the advantages of using 1024 or 1000 as the basis for prefix jumps, and being honest about what different abbreviations mean. its quite a different thing for someone to use capitalization to pretend to get 8x more storage than they have.

Re:marketing dishonesty and abbreviations (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072462)

When you’re talking about storing (or transmitting) data bit-by-bit, it’s pretty common to see the rates being expressed in terms of bits. Terabits, gigabits per second, etc.

It’s slightly confusing at times, I’ll admit.

4tb != 512gb (0, Redundant)

dch (540591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072310)

It appears that the article does not even say 4tb, just that the device can hold 512gb

Re:4tb != 512gb (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072380)

It appears that the article does not even say 4tb, just that the device can hold 512gb

4Tb == 512GB. Terabits, not terabytes.

Why the hell they would measure in Tb instead of GB is beyond me though.

Re:4tb != 512gb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072502)

Because memory is always measured in bits? Not for the modules you buy for your PC, but if you ever bought it by the chip, you bet your ass.

Re:4tb != 512gb (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072624)

Because memory is always measured in bits? Not for the modules you buy for your PC, but if you ever bought it by the chip, you bet your ass.

Well, I just learned something new. Thanks. :)

Re:4tb != 512gb (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072606)

I know a nybble is a much better unit of measure.

Re:4tb != 512gb (3, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072708)

> Why the hell they would measure in Tb instead of GB is beyond me though.

Because each dot stores one bit. They are building chips with arrays of dots, not complete hard drives.

Re:4tb != 512gb (0, Redundant)

V!NCENT (1105021) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072776)

Given that one crystal represents one bit, it tells you (as this is research, you know...) that there can be 1.099.511.627.776 crystals per cm (density, much?).

Re:4tb != 512gb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072392)

That's 4Tb (terabits, not terabytes), or in other words 512 GB.

Re:4tb != 512gb (0, Redundant)

Frenchman113 (893369) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072394)

4 Tb is 512 GB.

Re:4tb != 512gb (1)

caseih (160668) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073248)

No, it doesn't matter whether you use SI or the silly gibi, mibi prefixes. 4 Tbit is not 512 GB or 512 GiB. It's 500 GB or about 476 GiB by my calculations. 4000000000 / 8 is 500000000 bytes.

Re:4tb != 512gb (1)

PalmKiller (174161) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072432)

I think this is where they lost you b=bits, B=bytes...it takes 8 bits to make a byte They did not say 4TB, they said 4Tb (4Tbits) = 512GBytes

Re:4tb != 512gb (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073222)

thAt i5 th3 pR0blm wltH t3h kIdZ Th3z dAYz. grAmmAr, PuNCtUaTioN and C4pitalizaSHUN r all ARBITRARY.

Re:4tb != 512gb (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073140)

That's funny. I just assumed that the 512Gb was the L1 cache. It's not that unreasonable to have 512Gb of cache on a 4Tb drive right?? Considering cache memory is usually more expensive than the same amount of ram I'm guessing that we're out of luck. Bummer!

oblig. (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072318)

http://xkcd.com/678/

The rest is just business, which is easy right?

Not a "chip", merely a "chip". (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072342)

They have microdots at a 4Tb-per-sq-inch storage density; they don't have any controller that can read and write it.

This has been "accomplished" numerous times with holographic storage media before. They just never made the read-writers...

Re:Not a "chip", merely a "chip". (4, Insightful)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072406)

Correct.

“The next step is to develop magnetic packaging that will enable users to take advantage of the chips,” says the university, “using something, such as laser technology, that can effectively interact with the nanodots.”

They have a storage medium with nothing to read or write it... yet.

Although they seem confident that this will come with time, it’s a bit early to be celebrating. Interesting technology, but time will tell whether it’ll ever be usable.

Re:Not a "chip", merely a "chip". (4, Funny)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072722)

They have a storage medium with nothing to read or write it...

The perfect DRM! They'll make billions!

Re:Not a "chip", merely a "chip". (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073002)

The perfect DRM! They'll make billions!

Yes, billions of small nanodots. Until their budget runs out.

Re:Not a "chip", merely a "chip". (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072846)

> They have a storage medium with nothing to read or write it... yet.

Put the dots on a "disk" in rings. Call them "tracks". Spin the "disk" and access the dots by scanning a laser radially so that it can read and write the dots in each "track" sequentially. There just might be some existing technology that could be adapted for this...

Re:Not a "chip", merely a "chip". (1)

Real1tyCzech (997498) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072972)

That would suck. Spindle drives are already too slow. Let's use something a tad faster...please?

Re:Not a "chip", merely a "chip". (2, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073450)

> Let'sLet's use something a tad faster...please?

They'll put a transisitor over each dot and couple it to the dot in some way so that it can be read and written. Then they'll add a matrix of metallization and logic to multiplex access to the transistors. Add decoding logic and drivers and you've got nonvolatile RAM. And your bit density has gone down by an order of magnitude or so. Still very useful, though, if it's fast enough. Nonvolatile RAM with densities and speeds similar to those of DRAM would be a real breakthrough. Add costs per GB similar to those of rotating media and you've got something that will fundamentally change computing.

Re:Not a "chip", merely a "chip". (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073330)

That's idiotic. A pair of micromirrors will be able to point a laser at any point on the chip with far smaller seek times than moving the entire chip. Besides, CDs and DVDs are recorded in a spiral, not rings.

Re:Not a "chip", merely a "chip". (1)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073372)

Actually despite the fact that the summary and article talk about this as though it is an SSD technology, I think it is more likely to be implemented in a conventional spinning-disk hard drive first.

As I recently commented [slashdot.org] , the hard-drive industry is having a hard time shrinking the magnetic domains on conventional hard drive platters, which use a magnetic thin film. (You can make domains smaller, but they start interacting with one another and not maintaining their magnetization properly.) One proposed solution is to actually pattern disks with individual magnetic dots. The separated dots would interact less and should maintain magnetic orientation better.

There are challenges involved in tracking such small dots in a conventional hard drive, but those challenges are being addressed. In the short term it would be quite a bit easier to integrate a new magnetic-nano-dot technology with existing spinning-disc technology, rather than trying to invent a whole new read/write system. This would also help the nanodot technology be refined/matured. According to this press release [ncsu.edu] , this new technique is a pulsed-laser-deposition technique that is compatible with conventional silicon wafers. In other words, it is compatible with existing chip-making processes, and so we can imagine a later stage where the magnetic dots are memory elements integrated directly into microchips (thus, SSD).

I hate this... (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072352)

This sounds really cool but the artical that it links too is really short on details.
Things like speed? Storage life? How many read write cycles before it wears out? Addressing? is it byte level or page level?
I mean is this only a replacement for flash for is it a replacement for ram?
Cool but it just ticks me off. It is just a tease.
Yes they may not have those answers but I would be nice to know what they don't have answers for yet!

Re:I hate this... (4, Insightful)

osgeek (239988) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072734)

They don't have any of that information because they don't know any of it. They only have a way IN THE LAB to put a shitload of nanodots onto a medium. They mentioned that they have no packaging (way to read or even really write data into the dots) for an actual product.

It's like Ben Franklin saying, "Okay, I've discovered electricity. Computers should be along in about five years."

Okay, it's not that bad, but I hate that five year timeline that is rarely questioned but is thrown out to lure in investors and grant money.

Slashdot should have an automatic filter that looks for the five year estimate and flags with some "fat chance" special color.

Re:I hate this... (2, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072914)

That is why I hate this.
It reminds me of those Popular Science stores.
Or even better the one that sticks in my mind. The THOR drive from Radio Shack.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thor-CD [wikipedia.org]

I was so hyped by this in 1988 it sound so cool and it was only a few years away...
It never came.
On the bright side we did eventually get CD-Rs and even CD-RWs but not for a good long time after the THOR drive was announced.

Re:I hate this... (2, Informative)

osgeek (239988) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073364)

Yeah, that Thor drive was some great vapor. My painful promise memory, was hologram storage. Back in 1992, I remember holding on to a hologram storage article from MacWeek that described what was supposed to be a consumer product in a year or so.

The media was the size of a credit card and they promised it would hold 100x as much as the current best hard drives of the day. It's a real shame because you just know that there was some fairly fraudulent monkey business going on to motivate guys like that to hawk something they had no chance of ever delivering, much less in the time frames they touted.

It's amazing how the same fraud is passed along by Slashdot every six months in the form of a new holographic storage device that's going to revolutionize everything. It's probably the same core of fraudsters forming new companies and recycling their same tired story to pull in new investment suckers.

And thus it begins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072362)

Cue the "that's almost big enough for my entire porn collection" comments in 3... 2... 1.

Re:And thus it begins (2, Funny)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072710)

This is /. 512GB doesn't come close.

Re:And thus it begins (1)

the_fat_kid (1094399) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072766)

512GB big enough for an entire porn collection?
You must be new here...

Re:And thus it begins (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072904)

I think some folks at the SEC may be interested in this technology. Less obvious then boxes of CD/DVD labeled "Hot babes" lying around the office.

Does anyone "collect" porn anymore? (2, Funny)

sean.peters (568334) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073328)

Given that there's an infinite supply of ever-changing pr0n on the internet available for free, I have to wonder why anyone would bother stashing it on a local disk. It's like saving bottles of air.

read write speeds? # of r/w times? (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072368)

Some promising capacity technologies could not match standard magnetic technologies in these aspects. On the other hand, early CD ROMS and flash was promoted as "write once" technology. They would be so large large that you did not need to reuse storage.

Oh, great... (1)

InfinityWpi (175421) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072374)

... means I'll have to buy 'The White Album' again...

Re:Oh, great... (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073164)

WTF. The White Album....where did that come from. Reference please.

Re:Oh, great... (1)

TPJ-Basin (763596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073228)

Men in Black. See it.

NCSU != UNC (2, Informative)

fred_sanford (678924) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072402)

BEGIN RANT Seriously, North Carolina State University (NCSU in Raleigh) is not the University of North Carolina (typically in reference to Chapel Hill). One is a school (that I happened to have attended twice) that focuses primarily on Engineering and Agriculture and the other is a liberal arts school down the road. Seriously, fact-check much? http://www.mse.ncsu.edu/CAMSS/bio1.html [ncsu.edu] END RANT

Re:NCSU != UNC (0, Troll)

gotfork (1395155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072578)

BEGIN RANT Seriously, North Carolina State University (NCSU in Raleigh) is not the University of North Carolina (typically in reference to Chapel Hill). One is a school (that I happened to have attended twice) that focuses primarily on Engineering and Agriculture and the other is a liberal arts school down the road. Seriously, fact-check much? http://www.mse.ncsu.edu/CAMSS/bio1.html [ncsu.edu] END RANT

UNC now also has a cleanroom and the physics department does a lot of nanotechnology, but this guy is definitely at NCSU.

Re:NCSU != UNC (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072716)

Let's just call them both 'Duke University' and be done with it.

Re:NCSU != UNC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32073236)

No, Duke == SUNY Durham.

tiny pages (0)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072444)

The prof needs a basic lesson in math.

A pain text page of ASCII text is typically about 2000 Bytes, so his 4Tb will store only about 31 Million pages. ...and don't use MS Word for that.

Re:tiny pages (0)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072524)

A pain text page of ASCII text is typically about 2000 Bytes, so his 4Tb will store only about 31 Million pages. ...and don't use MS Word for that

I am not sure what a pain text page is. But I believe you don't know the difference between Tb and TB.

Disks? (2, Interesting)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072446)

Solid state disks could soon catch up with mechanical hard drives[...]Dr Narayan says he expects the technology overtaking traditional solid state disk technology within the next five years.

Is shape important in Solid State? It almost seems as if the article is confusing Hard Disk Drives with Solid State Drives.

Another five-years-out technology (2, Insightful)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072538)

The technology sounds impressive, but then they just give it the kiss of death by announcing that it's five years away. Five years from now it will still be five years away, probably because while it's possible to do, no one has been able to do it in a cost-effective manner. Also if Intel can keep up with their current roadmap, they'll probably be using something close to a 10 nm process. I know that both Global Foundaries and TSMC are working on their 28 nm process (Although they are behind schedule.) so it's not inconceivable that the rest of the industry will already be at that point anyhow.

Re:Another five-years-out technology (1)

osgeek (239988) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072900)

What's depressing is the way that the press and /. alike eat up stories like this.

Sure, writing this density of nanodots is an impressive feat. But as you point out, it could be completely nonviable for creating an actual consumer product.

Why can't the Slashdot's front page be the kind of place where bullshit is called on researchers putting out this kind of nonsense. These guys should be shamed into putting out factual press releases. Whoring it up to get coverage from the general media while seeking increased funding should be smited.

Here's a cool project: Go back into the Slashdot archives and pull out all the articles that made five-years-out predictions. Keep the oldest ones where the claim has not been fulfilled but the claimant is still in business/tenured sorted at the top of a slashbox that we can all jeer at.

Jay Narayan works for NCSU, not UNC-CH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072550)

Dr. Narayan teaches in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at N.C. State, which *is* part of the UNC system of colleges and universities, but is a university in its own right, and is actually a fierce rival of UNC-CH. Here is his personal homepage [ncsu.edu] at NCSU.

Single Defect Free Crystal (2, Insightful)

kenp2002 (545495) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072682)

Ok my knee jerk Six-Sigma reflex has just kicked in. On the manfacturing of those defect-free crystals... and about the cost effect and scaling for "overtaking ... in 5 years..."

Ok, here is a tip:

Anytime a politician or scientist taks about 5,8, and 12 year targets there is a reason:

Two 4 year terms = 8 years; when the project falls out they can blame the canidate currently in office.

5 years = A single Term but just a touch beyond to provide an incentive for re-election because if you don't they might cancel the project

12 Year = Two terms for canidiate A and a term for his\her heir... "Don't let the evil Democrats\Republicans kill the project!"

Now last I checked more then a few grants come in at 3,5,8 and 12 year durations... I never hear things coming to fruition in 7 years, or 6 years, or 9 years, or 11 years, or 18 years, 6 months, and 3 days.

There is just something about 5, 8, and 12 they love. Which due to the frequency they cite those values implies there is some weird cosmic alignment which causes innovations to pop at those figures... or I smell 4/5 dentists approve BS.

Another one is the 20 years from now number. What is the maturity on that investment I made...

I would honestly have a lot more respect for senior scientists if they didn't spend every waking hour working on getting grant money leaving the actual work to low-paying interns and students then claiming the work as their own offering nothing more then a second hand "my team and I" comment...

Then there's the "Friedman unit" (1)

sean.peters (568334) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073402)

... aka six months. For those just tuning in at home, this unit of time was popularized by one Thomas Friedman, a columnist who was thoroughly mocked on the Internets for his unfortunate habit of claiming that we needed another six months in Iraq to know if it was a success, and then when the six months had gone by, proclaim that another six months was needed. Over and over and over again - to the point where various critics would make a note on their calendars, and then after six months ask "well, it's been another Friedman unit... can we go home now?" Would have been funny, except that it was sad.

No doubt.. (1)

StoneOldman79 (1497187) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072792)

I have no doubt that for The question will be if nanobot/SSD will beat hd's for large quantities of TB's per $ by 2015.
I'm afraid this will not be the case so for your 10TB+ video collection and big data centre stuff we will still be using hd's.

NANODOTS CAUSE IMPOTENCE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32073004)

Considering my investments in the current technology, let me be the first to start the inevitable FUD campaign. I'll even declare it upfront for everyone. NANODOTS PROVEN TO CAUSE IMPOTENCE. Discuss, share, let the fear spread. I'm fairly certain that they are also solely responsible for global warming. We had no warming until the DOTS!

and for the WoW crowd. STOP DOTS! STOP DOTS!

Access speed? Throughput? (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073040)

I wonder how do they think all those data can be made accessible with fast access speed and good throughput.
The article is failing to mention this slightly important topic. Also tapes can store a lot of data (well not really that lot) with ridiculous performances.

TFS is wrong; it's North Carolina State University (1)

osvenskan (1446645) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073410)

TFS gets it wrong; this research was done at North Carolina State University (NCSU), not University of North Carolina (UNC).

Here's the NSCU press release:

http://news.ncsu.edu/releases/degraffnarayan09/ [ncsu.edu]

UNC? The man is at NCSU. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32073490)

The Dr. in question is a joint professor at UNC (The cuddly little school where all the journalism majors come from) and at NCSU (The campus covered in bricks that churns out engineers, and where the good doctor happens to be chair of microelectronics). Which school do you think the research was done at?

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