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Texas A&M Research Brings Racetrack Memory a Bit Closer

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the a-few-bits-really dept.

Data Storage 55

MojoKid writes "IBM is one of a number of companies working on a next-generation storage memory project and a recent discovery at Texas A&M University is a step forward for the company's racetrack memory. Racetrack memory relies on a nanowire arranged perpendicular to the chip. Current pulses across the nanowires allow data to be shifted as necessary. In theory, racetrack memory could be the Holy Grail of storage, capable of replacing both traditional hard drives and SSDs simultaneously. Racetrack memory could solve multiple problems and commercial implementations could offer hard drive-level density. Performance and reliability would both be far superior to today's SSDs. To date, IBM has demo'd a three-bit racetrack configuration. It's a start, but it's far from a shippable product at this juncture." What the A&M researchers have come up with is "a way to pulse the current much more efficiently and quickly."

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Delaylineish. (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34403014)

Somehow I am reminded of the old mercury delay line memory.
Also, first?

Re:Delaylineish. (2, Informative)

splutty (43475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34403040)

You must've clicked through to the original article, where that's been modded up quite a bit :)

But yes. It has similarities. The main difference as far as I can see is that this is much more '3D'. I sort of imagine a carpet waving around (funny mental image, do we now need tiny kittens to scratch their nails on that?)

But the option of being able to store multiple bits no a relatively small footprint is of course the most interesting one, although I wonder about the heat dissipation or production of these sort of arrays..

(And yes, it looks like you were a first :)

Re:Delaylineish. (3, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34403078)

A more important difference is that the old delay lines had the bits constantly moving along - when you wanted to access one, you just waited for it to pass by the transducer. This model has the bits hold still until they are made to move back or forth along their track, like a train moving one-carriage-at-a-time past a loading crane.

Re:Delaylineish. (1)

suutar (1860506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34408376)

It's a nano-turing-machine. All it needs is an infinitely long wire...

Re:Delaylineish. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34405784)

Take em on the outside Cole! Race track memory and the treacherous turn 4

New Tech - Old Architecture (3, Interesting)

careysub (976506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34403032)

Brings back the magnetic bubble memories [decadecounter.com] !

Re:New Tech - Old Architecture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34403646)

Actually sounds a lot like magnetic core memory in design, just orders or magnitude smaller.

Re:New Tech - Old Architecture (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34405896)

Themes for research in EECS tend to have about 25-35 year cycles while being updated with the technology du jour at each peak. I think it has something to do with the dying out/retiring of academic advisers and industrial lab directors who think a field is "mined out". Bubble memory is about that old. Mercury delay lines twice that. On the other hand, I get the distinct impression that most of the performance findings will show the same pros and cons of any cyclical memory system. It really points out the need for a really in-depth history of computation course for EECS curricula.

Next up: A rebirth of symbolic AI in five... four... three...

Re:New Tech - Old Architecture (1)

careysub (976506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34408254)

Themes for research in EECS tend to have about 25-35 year cycles while being updated with the technology du jour at each peak. I think it has something to do with the dying out/retiring of academic advisers and industrial lab directors who think a field is "mined out". Bubble memory is about that old. Mercury delay lines twice that...

Magnetic bubble "racetrack" memory seems a much closer parallel than the delay lines. MBM had some things going for it - solid state, non-volatile and extremely rugged. So mostly it got used in niche military applications. Introduced in the 1970s it was "revived" in 1989 with the U. S. Army's AN/UGC-144 portable battlefield communication terminal. At the time it was said to be "the first time a high-volume, off-the-shelf magnetic bubble memory system will be a component in a production model military computer" (as opposed to specialized avionic devices for example).

The AN/UGC-144 is still in service, BTW.

1950s computer used delay lines (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#34406346)

Memory in UNIVAC [wikipedia.org] . Then Forrester perfected magnetic core memory and IBM magnetic disk memory.

Frosty posty (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34403044)

Because i'm using racetrack memory

Plagiarize Much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34403060)

From the summary:

IBM is one of a number of companies working on a next-generation storage memory project and a recent discovery at Texas A&M University is a step forward for the company's racetrack memory. Racetrack memory relies on a nanowire arranged perpendicular to the chip. Current pulses across the nanowires allow data to be shifted as necessary. In theory, racetrack memory could be the Holy Grail of storage, capable of replacing both traditional hard drives and SSDs simultaneously. Racetrack memory could solve multiple problems and commercial implementations could offer hard drive-level density. Performance and reliability would both be far superior to today's SSDs. To date, IBM has demo'd a three-bit racetrack configuration. It's a start, but it's far from a shippable product at this juncture.

From the article:

IBM is one of a number of companies working on a next-generation storage memory project. A recent discovery at Texas A&M University is a step forward for the company's racetrack memory. Racetrack memory relies on a nanowire arranged perpendicular to the chip. Current pulses across the nanowires allow data to be shifted as necessary.

The later:

In theory, racetrack memory could be the Holy Grail of storage, capable of replacing both traditional hard drives and SSDs simultaneously. ... Racetrack memory could solve multiple problems simultaneously; commercial implementations could offer hard drive-level density. Performance and reliability would both be far superior to today's SSDs.

Then later:

To date, IBM has demo'd a three-bit racetrack configuration—it's a start, but it's scarcely ready to ship.

Plagiarize much?

Re:Plagiarize Much? (2, Informative)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34403188)

That's nothing! Your post has exact copies of everything you cited.

But yeah, Slashdot summaries these days are almost always just copy-and-paste from the article.

Re:Plagiarize Much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34403368)

Yeah, and Slashdot comments these days are almost always just copy-and-paste from the parent.

Re:Plagiarize Much? (2)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34404050)

Yeah, and Slashdot comments these days are almost always just copy-and-paste from the parent.

Really?

Re:Plagiarize Much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34410148)

Yeah, and Slashdot comments these days are almost always just copy-and-paste from the parent.

Really?

Really.

Re:Plagiarize Much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34403372)

as a website, sometimes people take things from other sites and copy them!

what an idea!

it's almost like we call this publishing, or something.

Re:Plagiarize Much? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#34403488)

"Plagiarize much?"

Not much, in fact not at all. It's a summary, the poster picked out the bits that they thought summarised the article. To be considered plagiarisim the poster would have to be claiming it was their own work.

Some "plagiarised" dictionary definitions:

Summary: A summary, synopsis, or recap is a shorter version of the original.

Plagiarisim: A piece of writing that has been copied from someone else and is presented as being your own work

Re:Plagiarize Much? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34403966)

MojoKid writes

Sounds like presenting ownership to me ...

Re:Plagiarize Much? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#34411366)

FFS, it's a SUMMARY, how can "a shorter version of the original" be claiming ownership?

Off Topic. (0, Offtopic)

splutty (43475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34403064)

This is very off topic, but why on earth do I have 15 moderation points??

Re:Off Topic. (0)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34403090)

obviously, there's been a mistake. we are monitoring your situation and will advise.

3-bit racetrack? (4, Funny)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 3 years ago | (#34403146)

Are the bits named Win, Place, and Show?

Re:3-bit racetrack? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34403272)

Are the bits named Win, Place, and Show?

No, they are named, Moe, Larry, and Curly.

"Oh, a wise bit, eh?"

"Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!"

Re:3-bit racetrack? (1)

ziggyzaggy (552814) | more than 3 years ago | (#34403720)

I'd prefer Who, What and I Don't know.

"Who is set True, What is set False".
"I don't know"
"That's also False"

"Abbooooottttttt!!!!!!!!"

Re:3-bit racetrack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34404654)

Here I figured it was sort of like this:

No. (False)
Yes. (True)
Maybe? (?!?)

Re:3-bit racetrack? (1)

doogledog (1758670) | more than 3 years ago | (#34406168)

True
False
FileNotFound

Re:3-bit racetrack? (1)

MrNiceguy_KS (800771) | more than 3 years ago | (#34409538)

Abort
Retry
Ignore?

Re:3-bit racetrack? (1)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 3 years ago | (#34407910)

I'd prefer the Who, What, and Where. It'd be a "Who's True" comedic relief.

nononono (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34404948)

They're named Win, Execute and Team !

[ C'mon former IBMers, mod me up ! ]

Re:3-bit racetrack? (1)

ebuck (585470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34405410)

Finally they've developed a memory that can keep those race conditions perfect!

Any new tech needs a theme song (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34403240)

The Kingston ladies sing this song.
Do-dah, do-dah.
The racetrack memory's five mils long.
Oh, do-dah day.

Goin' to write some ones.
Goin' to see them stay.
I bet my money on some Corsair DIMMs.
Somebody boot up the Cray.

Racetrack Memories (2)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34403250)

Hopefully, the motto of this new storage device will not be "I lost EVERYTHING!"

QM (1)

neo12 (1892318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34403260)

Well...wait till guys from the quantum memory research teams publish their research.

Re:QM (1)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 3 years ago | (#34407930)

So you string together some quantum-nanobits and call it a day.

Re:QM (1)

cyclomedia (882859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34415214)

if they publish, what happens to the cat?

A *Bit* closer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34403274)

Memory. Bit.

Raising the standards for editors everywhere.

Storage vs. Memory (1)

pr0t0 (216378) | more than 3 years ago | (#34403556)

I already have enough problems with users being unable to distinguish between memory (RAM) and storage (HDD/SSD). I will now have to deal with a type of storage called Racetrack Memory?!

This is only a half-hearted joke. Does this new form of storage/memory obviate the need for RAM by simply allocating one of the racetracks to that type of storage/retrieval?

Re:Storage vs. Memory (1)

ziggyzaggy (552814) | more than 3 years ago | (#34403794)

let's just bring back old-fart terminology. Primary storage and secondary storage. Your HDD and SDD and USB Memory stick and Racetrack are all secondary storage. RAM is primary storage.

Re:Storage vs. Memory (3, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34404074)

Actually, the predicted speeds for racetrack memory are rather close to RAM speeds. It could be possible to operate it as primary storage - it would be a bit sluggish for calculations, but it would eliminate the need to read in chunks of files to be operated on. Given the increasing size of L3 cache, it could be possible for racetrack memory to replace SSDs and RAM while pushing hard drives into the "long-term storage" role, and have the L3 cache take the role of RAM.

This isn't a firm prediction - I'm not even sure racetrack memory will come to anything, but if it does, "the death of RAM" is entirely possible.

Re:Storage vs. Memory (1)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 3 years ago | (#34408078)

Actually, the predicted speeds for racetrack memory are rather close to RAM speeds. It could be possible to operate it as primary storage - it would be a bit sluggish for calculations, but it would eliminate the need to read in chunks of files to be operated on. Given the increasing size of L3 cache, it could be possible for racetrack memory to replace SSDs and RAM while pushing hard drives into the "long-term storage" role, and have the L3 cache take the role of RAM. This isn't a firm prediction - I'm not even sure racetrack memory will come to anything, but if it does, "the death of RAM" is entirely possible.

I'll agree the death of RAM is certainly possible if its fast enough. However, it will likely have a lot better life with less moving parts than a traditional hard drive. So I would see traditional hard drives definitely going away - SSDs will do that by themselves once they get cheap enough even without Racetrack memory taking on hard drives and SSDs. So I could see the long-term storage going to SSDs or Racetrack memory-based hard drives; but traditional hard drives will certainly die at some point. It's just a matter of the cost coming down enough to make it worth it on the other forms first.

a funny start ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34403568)

To date, IBM has demo'd a three-bit racetrack configuration. It's a start, but it's far from a shippable product at this juncture

They could try selling a 3 bit product, but it would have to be pretty inexpensive !!!

Re:a funny start ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34403644)

To date, IBM has demo'd a three-bit racetrack configuration. It's a start, but it's far from a shippable product at this juncture

They could try selling a 3 bit product, but it would have to be pretty inexpensive !!!

Hey, it could run 1 1/2 copies of Windows...

I wonder (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 3 years ago | (#34403640)

Will on-line betting be legal?

"Tech" site (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34403906)

Story about some copy written works getting put on project gutenberg? 400 comments

Story about actual memory tech? 25 comments

Re:"Tech" site (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 3 years ago | (#34404076)

It seems worry more about copy rights etc. then about technical advances.

Re:"Tech" site (1)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 3 years ago | (#34404124)

The copyright story has the "scifi" tag.

Re:"Tech" site (1)

Ferzerp (83619) | more than 3 years ago | (#34404606)

Wow, you mean that stories that have at this point existed for much longer have more comments? Shocking!

Whoop! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34404520)

Gig'em!

A link to the explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34404560)

More information can be found here
http://physics.aps.org/articles/v3/96

The 1960s called (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34404838)

It wants its memory technology back.

http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2009/11/storing_data_in_waves_delay_line_me.html

I'm not criticizing the '60s, they were the greatest era in terms of change, innovation and just plain gee-whizzery.

I mean, IBM had TERABIT storage in 1967.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_1360

(Sort of puts the lie to the old Space Nutter chestnut that we only have computers because of rockets.)

Re:The 1960s called (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34405206)

Indeed. We have them because of business.

Re:The 1960s called (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34406176)

You do realize the space age began *before* 1960?

Re:The 1960s called (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34407190)

You *do* realize that we had computers *before* the Space Age?

And to the other post:

"Indeed. We have them because of business."

Oddly enough, business only saw fit to use computers once they were proven by other people. Scientists, mathematicians, navigators....

http://www.computerhistory.org/babbage/history/

"In the 1821 vignette of Babbage and his friend, the astronomer, John Herschel, checking manually calculated tables, Babbage, finding error after error, was driven to exclaim 'I wish to God these calculations had been executed by steam'. The grindingly tedious labor of manually checking tables was one thing. Worse was their unreliability. Babbage embarked on an ambitious venture to design and build mechanical calculating engines (...)"

But true enough, once computers were in banks and businesses (which they were en masse by the '60s), business really took over. Space Nuttery was at best a tangential *user* of computers, not a creator of them like Space Nutters want you to believe.

Gig 'em! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34409428)

I hope this is not like the Cold Fusion fiasco.

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