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IBM Makes a Super Memory Breakthrough

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the thanks-for-asking dept.

IBM 164

adeelarshad82 writes "IBM says they have made a significant leap forward in the viability of 'Racetrack memory,' a new technology design which has the potential to exponentially increase computing power. This new tech could give devices the ability to store as much as 100 times more information than they do now, which would be accessed at far greater speeds while utilizing 'much less' energy than today's designs. In the future, a single portable device might be able to hold as much memory as today's business-class servers and run on a single battery charge for weeks at a time. Racetrack memory works by storing data as magnetic regions (also called domains), which would be transported along nanowire 'racetracks.' Instead of forcing a computer to seek out the data it needs, as traditional computing systems do, the information would automatically slide along the racetrack to where it could be used."

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super (1)

hey (83763) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700640)

That's super-doubleplus good.

Bubble Memory (1)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701542)

I'm still waiting for my holographic bubble memory cubes.

"Breakthrough" Now a Meaningless Word (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700644)

Really? The summary doesn't even get around to explaining what the alleged "breakthrough" was. It's just trumpeting the awesomeness of race-track memory. From the article:

"We discovered that domain walls don't hit peak acceleration as soon as the current is turned on, and that it takes them exactly the same time and distance to hit peak acceleration as it does to decelerate and eventually come to a stop," commented Dr. Stuart Parkin, an IBM Fellow at IBM Research. "This was previously undiscovered in part because it was not clear whether the domain walls actually had mass, and how the effects of acceleration and deceleration could exactly compensate one another. Now we know domain walls can be positioned precisely along the racetracks simply by varying the length of the current pulses even though the walls have mass."

Don't get me wrong, race track memory is some pretty exciting stuff but I think we're dealing with an observation that means they can now proceed along a certain strategy for storing and retrieving bits. I don't think I would call this a breakthrough, it sounds like they set out to investigate domain walls and learned something. How is that a breakthrough? We're still in the ten to fifteen years away period which is that magic flying car period that, in many instances of exciting new technology, never seems to shrink.

"Breakthrough" no longer means anything to me. I don't know what you would have to put in the title to get me genuinely excited about a real breakthrough ... probably something like "Researchers Shitting Themselves Over New Discovery."

Re:"Breakthrough" Now a Meaningless Word (2)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700666)

I hear you.

I'm only on board with scientists are "baffled" or experts are "shocked."

Re:"Breakthrough" Now a Meaningless Word (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700800)

"Breakthrough" no longer means anything to me.

I, for one, look forward to 15 years of news articles proclaiming new breakthroughs mean we'll have racetrack memory "within ten years"

Re:"Breakthrough" Now a Meaningless Word (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700866)

I would go with "researcher says >".

Re:"Breakthrough" Now a Meaningless Word (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700880)

I had no idea that could happen. reposting: "researcher says `hm, that's funny`".
stupid brackets.

Re:"Breakthrough" Now a Meaningless Word (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702438)

If you're trying to do <this>, you do it like this: &lt;this>. And it's usually a good idea to review before posting.

This Just In: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34700916)

Technology gets better over time!

Re:"Breakthrough" Now a Meaningless Word (4, Insightful)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700980)

Actually, the word "breakthrough" is pretty applicable here. There was this undiscovered property that acted as a barrier and prevented moving forward with the technology, but now that it is discovered, the barrier has been broken through and progress can continue. You might not be satisfied unless it's an announced product, and I'm with you there, but it's still a breakthrough in the technical sense of the word.

Re:"Breakthrough" Now a Meaningless Word (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701154)

I have to wonder if there is going to be any market for these advances. The high end is shrinking very quickly so the market for really super high end cutting edge stuff is also shrinking.
Even super computers are using a large number of COTS technology these days. In the future will their be any customers for the first very expensive race track memory systems?

Re:"Breakthrough" Now a Meaningless Word (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701442)

Id imagine researchers would want to use it for more powerful computer clusters or supercomputers. There is always a demand for that, mostly DoD contracts to universities.

Re:"Breakthrough" Now a Meaningless Word (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702404)

It will be interesting to see. Even the DOD is going to more COTS. Will the DOD and DOE contracts be enough to get this memory from the lab into production and then finally to mass market?

Re:"Breakthrough" Now a Meaningless Word (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702484)

I have to wonder if there is going to be any market for these advances.

Did you even read the summary? "In the future, a single portable device might be able to hold as much memory as today's business-class servers and run on a single battery charge for weeks at a time."

Fifteen years ago nobody thought we'd be watching YouTube.

Re:"Breakthrough" Now a Meaningless Word (4, Insightful)

SageMusings (463344) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701186)

It's "Bubble Memory" all over again.

Re:"Breakthrough" Now a Meaningless Word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34702700)

Oh so you have heard of Bubble memory. Not enough to see the clear differences between that technology and Racetrack memory though.
Too bad many people here on /. are informed and interested in technology otherwise someone could have thought you had some knowledge in the matter apart from a name...

Re:"Breakthrough" Now a Meaningless Word (2)

santiagodraco (1254708) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701510)

Well I'd have to say that since you don't know what the breakthrough is, nor do you really appear to understand the technical issues involved (other than quoting words from the article)... I'm not sure you are really saying anything. Much like my post :)

Breakthrough's in science can be very simple things that move projects forward significantly. A breakthrough doesn't require a nuke going off, or a plane breaking a new mach record.... it could be as simple as what they state as to resolve an issue that was holding up the project for months.

Of course you might think what they did is "simple" and not breakthrough worthy, but that just demonstrates a lack of understanding for the difficulty in what they are working with.

You do understand we are talking about nano sized circuits here right?

Re:"Breakthrough" Now a Meaningless Word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34702306)

Yo man they didn't just put Breakthrough in the title, it's a Super Breakthrough! That has got to make you excited, right?

Re:"Breakthrough" Now a Meaningless Word (1)

xenapan (1012909) | more than 3 years ago | (#34703086)

Yo dawg! I heard you like breakthroughs so we put a breakthrough in your Super Breakthrough! enjoy ya Super Breakthrough Breakthrough!

Exponentially (5, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700654)

I hate it when people misuse the word exponentially to mean big.

At best, it will allow the current exponential growth to increase.

Re:Exponentially (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700750)

Here what it boils down to, IMHO: Will the racetrack memory provide enough addressable space, at a decent price, to allow Adobe and other large applications to run decently?

Re:Exponentially (2)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700846)

Correction, Adobe applications. It would be nice to be able to feed stuff large amounts of RAM addressable in nanoseconds, because it is a *lot* easier to throw more hardware at something than to get most vendors to tighten up their products.

Re:Exponentially (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34700756)

I hate it when people misuse the word exponentially to mean big. At best, it will allow the current exponential growth to increase.

You're joking, right?

Re:Exponentially (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700946)

At best, it will allow the current exponential growth to increase, exponentially.

Re:Exponentially (1)

Strange Attractor (18957) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702234)

That's what annoyed me too. If one were proactive enough to shift the paradigm, how many exponential racetracks could one fit in the width of human hair?

Moving Data? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34700656)

Sounds like Eckert and Maunchly weren't too far off with mercury-tube memory in Univac.

Re:Moving Data? (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701236)

Sounds like Eckert and Maunchly weren't too far off with mercury-tube memory in Univac.

If only they had exponentiated to mercury-nano-tube memory. If they had used vacs in parallel as Univax.

Re:Moving Data? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34702068)

And revalidates the fluid link of the Tardis.

Not holding my breath (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700684)

From TFA:

Racetrack memory is still years away from hitting the consumer market..

In other words, maybe in the next 20 years, right?

Re:Not holding my breath (3, Funny)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700752)

Yeah, I'm getting too old for vaporware. Now I try only to pay attention to "on shelves now".

Re:Not holding my breath (3, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701156)

Then why read Slashdot? The Best Buy circular in the Sunday paper is what you are looking for.

I won't defend the rather confused writeup, but the research itself still sounds like genuine progress in a worthwhile area. Moore's Law, or rather the more general/important version that "computer stuff just keeps getting better," isn't a law of nature. Technology is moved forward a little at a time by just this type of research. And yes, most research goes nowhere. But the exceptions to that rule made the world what it is today.

Re:Why Read Slashdot (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702424)

I read it more for the corporate-mood stories, following who's deciding what on existing tech. For things like the Ubuntu Unity announcement, I note that as like a calendar date to revisit in the future to see if it still happens, and if it does, to pay attention then.

Re:Not holding my breath (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700856)

"Years away" could mean as soon as 12 months. I can see not holding your breath, or even not fasting. You could at least, however, take a vow of chastity.

Re:Not holding my breath (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34701018)

You could at least, however, take a vow of chastity.

I think most slashdotters already have.

Re:Not holding my breath (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34701566)

Only because they were forced to. Even ugly, fat, nerdy chicks wouldn't want to have sex with the average Slashdotter.

Re:Not holding my breath (1)

Jaqenn (996058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702482)

Do you mean vow of celibacy? Because vows of chastity are really not that uncommon.

Five years (3, Funny)

TopSpin (753) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700956)

20 years

Please avoid careless speculation. The SPI of racetrack memory, as with other microelectronic breakthroughs is five years [slashdot.org] .

Re:Five years (1)

no1nose (993082) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701100)

I wish I had mod points +++

Any idea what the SPI of flying cars is?

Re:Not holding my breath (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701790)

depends. I remember when perpendicular memory was 'years' aways. It came out 3 year latter.

To be clear, I am talking about hearing it on /., not the Iwasaki(sp?) paper.

Re:Not holding my breath (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702302)

Then why read Slashdot? The Best Buy circular in the Sunday paper is what you are looking for.

"Years away" could mean as soon as 12 months.

Please avoid careless speculation.

Wow, apparently "sarcasm" isn't spoken here, or at least you bozos don't understand it. Work on that then get back to me, k?

I ! 3 marketing teams (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34700686)

I hate it when marketing teams are the ones to explain technology. Oh it's like a beautiful miracle and data just appears when you want it!.. We push it down the "racetrack".

Racetrack (1)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700738)

So it goes really fast, but the article left out the answer to the quintessential question: does it turn left?

Re:Racetrack (2)

damien_kane (519267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700844)

No, it's not an ambi-turner.

Maybe someday, though, it may learn to, so that it can thwart the attempt on the Prime Minister of Malaysia's life.

Re:Racetrack (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701114)

No, it's not an ambi-turner.

Maybe someday, though, it may learn to, so that it can thwart the attempt on the Prime Minister of Malaysia's life.

Fortunately it WILL help with the development of really teeny-tiny cell phones; so there's that.

Re:Racetrack (2)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701462)

Finally I will have a cellphone the size of a cricket.

Re:Racetrack (1)

Anarke_Incarnate (733529) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701794)

Noisy Cricket

Re:Racetrack (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702734)

They already have those in Vietnam. [rackspacecloud.com]

Re:Racetrack (1)

TheL0ser (1955440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700848)

Of course it turns left. It always turns left.

Right turns, on the other hand, I'm not so sure about.

Re:Racetrack (1)

wootcat (1151911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702206)

You are assuming they are in the Northern Hemisphere.

Excuse My Skepticism (1)

organgtool (966989) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700828)

While this technology sounds great, I have a feeling this is more than five years away. Hell, I'd be happy if IBM delivered on the holographic storage [wikipedia.org] they've been promising for the past 15 years.

Racetrack Memory? Again? (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700836)

Can I ask Slashdot to not post any more stories about Racetrack memory until something interesting happens with it? I've been hearing about it for years, but thus far it's all theoretical or early experimental work. Just like Bubble memory, by the time this actually works conventional memory may be faster and cheaper and it will end up on the sidelines of history.

I'll be intrested when they have something like a DIMM form factor that is actually better than existing memory.

Re:Racetrack Memory? Again? (2)

cecilgol (977329) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700938)

Can I ask Slashdot to not post any more stories ... until something interesting happens

you must be new here. low ID aside.

Re:Racetrack Memory? Again? (1)

windcask (1795642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701002)

I'll be intrested when they have something like a DIMM form factor that is actually better than existing memory.

By the time this hits the market, we won't be using desktop computers anymore.You'll just hit a button on your cell phone and your monitor, keyboard and mouse will turn on and interface with it automatically.

Bottom line is I don't think they'll bother making full-size components anymore; it'll be integrated-or-nothing by the time this technology arrives. We're certainly headed that way anyway.

Overpromise and underdeliver (2)

overshoot (39700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701180)

I'll be intrested when they have something like a DIMM form factor that is actually better than existing memory.

I'll be happy enough when it's up to competing with rotating memory, which is a lot more likely.
Serial memory is serial memory, and promising to replace Random Access Memory in latency-critical applications like main memory is just nonsense. Either the people putting out these claims are stupid or they think we are.

Re:Racetrack Memory? Again? (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702166)

This was interesting. Determining whether or not the domains has mass is very exciting.

Just because you only care about crap that you can buy doesn't mean others aren't interested in scientific breakthroughs.

The pre-millennium jandrese called, he want's to know why you killed his curiosity.

Re:Racetrack Memory? Again? (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702312)

The domain mass thing is somewhat interesting, but the whole story is about how Racetrack memory is going to be totally awesome in the future because mumble mumble. A link to the paper about the magnetic domain experiments would have gone over much better IMHO.

P = NP (2)

drb226 (1938360) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700888)

a new technology design which has the potential to exponentially increase computing power

P = NP

QED

Seems fragile (1)

denshao2 (1515775) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700914)

I seriously doubt that such technology could be durable enough to handle more than a few hundred read/write operations.

Re:Seems fragile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34702506)

Thank you for your expert opinion o fountain of all knowledge. Please enlighten us with more of your untold wisdom.

Hold on to your butts... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700918)

Instead of forcing a computer to seek out the data it needs, as traditional computing systems do, the information would automatically slide along the racetrack to where it could be used. The result: powerful and efficient computing.

"Instead of forcing the computer to seek out data." (Meaning, at the address where it was stored?) "The data automatically slides to where it can be used." (Is the data omniscient?) "Powerful and efficient computing." (OK, perhaps w/regard to data retrieval.)

I don't get it. Article needs more information, less hyperbole (ya, I know, this is /.) so it doesn't really seem like a Samuel L. Jackson moment.

Just warp the chip to bring the data closer (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34700958)

...the information would automatically slide along the racetrack to where it could be used.

Ahhh, bring the mountain to Mohammed...

Doublespeak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34701014)

"Instead of forcing a computer to seek out the data it needs, as traditional computing systems do, the information would automatically slide along the racetrack to where it could be used."
So it's serial then :)

here's an idea (3, Funny)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701036)

why not connect the racetracks directly to the internet tubes. then the information could slide along the racetrack into a series of tubes and ultimately slide right into your own personal racetrack.

Sounds a whole lot like bubble memory (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34701104)

Sounds a whole lot like bubble memory

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

I'd like to know how this differed.

Yawn... (2)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701140)

Here is [ibm.com] a press release from a couple of years ago basically trumpeting the same thing. I think it is policy to recycle this every so often to prop up their stock price. [nyse.com]

Re:Yawn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34702914)

That is a different thing.

The one you link to they trumpet how great it is (like all these articles do). Then talks about the actual charging of the bits and lowering of the power to do that (last paragraph). The new one talks about moving the bits around on the track and how much current is needed to do that (last paragraph).

Re:Yawn... (1)

pasv (755179) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702968)

Here is [ibm.com] a press release from a couple of years ago basically trumpeting the same thing. I think it is policy to recycle this every so often to prop up their stock price. [nyse.com]

You do have a valid point, the weekly view says it has been rising steadily since monday, but more than likely they made this "breakthrough" earlier and decided when to spit it as the stocks bottomed on a certain threshold. Just because the announcement was strategically planned does not mean that the breakthrough is any less real though.

This is just bubble memory again (5, Interesting)

DCFusor (1763438) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701194)

I guess the patent has finally run out on the original, which I played with in the early '70s for some military EE work I was doing then for a beltway bandit. Just a big bunch of shift registers moving magnetic "bubbles" or "domains" round and round. The thing had a (for the time) decent capacity and storage capability, for example, you could get just about floppy drive performance out of a chip (and some other parts to make all the clocks)....It was of course still far slower than the ram of the time.

To this old fart, it looks the same, just a different way to fab the thing. But hey what do I know?

One thing I do know. Current scientists aren't very well educated on what has gone before. About a year ago I saw the "breakthrough" development of a "plasma transistor" that I also had in a 1950's book on my shelf....happens pretty frequently these days. These guys are so specialized they don't even know the history of their own fields anymore, much less a broad history.

Reminds me of Hari Seldon and "the galactic empire is crumbling" to be frank. Not even up to Heinlein standards!

Re:This is just bubble memory again (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701334)

One thing I do know. Current scientists aren't very well educated on what has gone before.

Computer scientists / IT people have the same problem. Nothing is really new. Personally I'm waiting for "implicit typing" to be in style again. Python whitespace is conceptually pretty close, probably why I find it repulsive.

Re:This is just bubble memory again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34701610)

It is coming back. C# has the var keyword now to tell the compiler to guess at the real type. What an awful thing to do.

Re:This is just bubble memory again (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701784)

You mean has had for 3 years now? And what is awful about it? Are you one of those people who confuse it with the old VARIANT of VB or dynamic typing like you find in Ruby, etc. Everything is still statically-typed, you just can avoid lots of noise by having to write the type explicitly.

Re:This is just bubble memory again (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701810)

"Guessing"? Try rigorous type inference.

Type inference is how languages like Haskell and Ocaml work, and no one seems to think they're "awful". You still get rigorous compile-time type checking, but with less horrible explicit casting and variable type declarations, which is *damn* nice when you're dealing with generics or lambdas.

Re:This is just bubble memory again (1)

diskofish (1037768) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701888)

I think they added that for Linq. While it's useful for Linq statements, it isn't the best practice to use it anywhere else imo.

FWIW, the compiler doesn't "guess" at the type. The type is determined by the type of the first value assigned to it, so a statement like var test = null is not valid, but var test = new object(); would be.

Re:This is just bubble memory again (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701948)

I think they added that for Linq. While it's useful for Linq statements, it isn't the best practice to use it anywhere else imo.

No, the var keyword was added to support anonymous classes. It has nothing to do with LINQ.

Re:This is just bubble memory again (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702022)

I assume you meant anonymous delegates, and in particular, the deliciously terse-yet-expressive new (well, to me... my company *just* switched to VS 2k10, with its new compiler, in the last couple months) lambda syntax, that manages to make things like List.Find() not totally suck...

Re:This is just bubble memory again (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702044)

No, I mean anonymous types [microsoft.com] . Things as simple as:

var v = new { Amount = 108, Message = "Hello" };

Re:This is just bubble memory again (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702108)

Huh, I'll be damned, I didn't realize that existed (probably because I've never played with LINQ). I'm also not sure how I feel about it, but it's certainly... interesting. It also seems like a very niche feature, unless I'm missing something (specifically, it appears said feature is primarily used in LINQ as a mechanism for returning rows from a query).

Certainly type inference seems *far* more useful, to me, in the context of generics and lambdas (and certainly *not* limited to just LINQ). But being a (very poor) functional programming guy, that's probably just my own bias showing.

Re:This is just bubble memory again (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702170)

Yes, in most cases you are going to be using them with LINQ, but they are also useful if you just want to create a type in a block of code without needing some formal class definition. That's not broadly useful, but I've done it a number of times where I work.

Re:This is just bubble memory again (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702024)

Now to further clarify, select statements can return results that are anonymous classes that would require the usage of var, but var in and of itself has no ties to LINQ. And it is perfectly fine to use it outside of just the domain of anonymous classes.

Re:This is just bubble memory again (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701714)

Personally I'm waiting for "implicit typing" to be in style again.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF TOMORROW! [developer.com]

Re:This is just bubble memory again (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701858)

Oh BS.

Python's type checking is done at run-time, which is why it's so horrible (though it's better than the weak typing as present in Perl and Javascript... PS, I like both of those languages for various reasons, I just hate weak typing).

Type inference as present in C#, Haskell, Ocaml, and others, is done at compile time, and so is perfectly safe. It just means the programmer can spend less time casting things, which is a huge pain in the ass in a strictly type language like C#, particularly when you throw generics and lambdas into the mix.

Re:This is just bubble memory again (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701922)

Oh BS.

My post wasn't being serious...

Type inference as present in C#, Haskell, Ocaml, and others, is done at compile time, and so is perfectly safe. It just means the programmer can spend less time casting things, which is a huge pain in the ass in a strictly type language like C#, particularly when you throw generics and lambdas into the mix.

Gee no shit? It's almost like I already posted that [slashdot.org] .

Re:This is just bubble memory again (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701950)

Hah, didn't notice the author of the post, just the (intentionally) dumbass response. My bad. :)

Re:This is just bubble memory again (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701992)

That's cool. :)

Re:This is just bubble memory again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34701874)

Yup, I'm not quite as old a geazer as the parent poster, but close and this is exactly what I, and I'm sure many others our ages, immediately thought. History does repeat itself over and over in so many ways and if history repeats itself again this will be touted as a coming great technology for the next decade only to fade away into obscurity.

Speaking of history repeating itself...I'm buying gold while it still has a way to go before it peaks!

Re:This is just bubble memory again (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702668)

Speaking of history repeating itself...I'm buying gold while it still has a way to go before it peaks!

Interesting... I'm doing the same with history.

1950s mercury acoustic delay lines (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701932)

before magnetic disks and tapes were perfected

Re:This is just bubble memory again (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702230)

The break through isn't the technology, it's how they are going about it, or certain aspects of the technology. Like, does a domain have mass.

Seriously, you need to to think a bit more. It's like someone finding a away to make better rubber tires and all you can say is 'Tires? hell those where around 100 years ago, this isnt new at all. I guess these scientist don't know their history."

Re:This is just bubble memory again (2)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702766)

To this old fart, it looks the same, just a different way to fab the thing. But hey what do I know?

It is the same thing, but the scale is far different, with much the same consequences as going from discrete transistors to nanoscale transistors etched on silicon, i.e., it can (theoretically) store more data and retrieve it faster.

About a year ago I saw the "breakthrough" development of a "plasma transistor" that I also had in a 1950's book on my shelf...

I know what you mean. I was going through a mass-market encyclopedia of science from the 1960's the other day, and stumbled across an article promising that holographic memory was right around the corner.

To be fair, though, the basic principles of most of the technology we use today were discovered decades, sometimes centuries, before their current applications. Most of the time, several technologies have to reach a certain stage of development before any of them can be given practical applications, and even then, if there's no demand for the technology at the time, it can sit on the shelf even longer. Lasers, for example, were greeted by yawns when they were first invented ("Great, it's a visible-light maser. So what?"), but now most people own multiple laser-containing devices, in addition to their use as pointers and cat toys.

Anything that will foil the evil cloud!!! (2)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701314)

If I can carry around all my data in a little pod, then all I'll need is access to input and output devices.

That would be far out. Thanks IBM, for the neat science fiction story of the day!

Racetrack memory isn't something new... (2)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701434)

I worked on magnetic bubble memory at T.I. in the Dallas corporate research labs back in the mid-70s and it used a "racetrack" architecture where magnetic bubbles (domains) were stored in very long shift registers with the shifting accomplished by rotating magnetic fields. I hope it does better this time around.

What happens if (2)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701502)

I watch car races on TV for the same reason most people do. To see the crashes. What happens if the data in these memory chips fails to make the turn? Getting implaled by ones and zeros doesn't sound like much fun. I'm just glad we're not using Roman Numerals, because those dots on the i's flying about, and those x's look a lot like those Japanese surikans, and those L's winging around like boomerangs.

Just how safe are we?

And run on a single battery charge for weeks... (1)

tunapez (1161697) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701646)

Riiight. I welcome our long-lasting, battery powered overlords...if they ever transcend marketing fiction and appear IRL.

I'm not an engineer, but... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 3 years ago | (#34701968)

I read this:

Racetrack memory works by storing data as magnetic regions (also called domains), which would be transported along nanowire "racetracks." Instead of forcing a computer to seek out the data it needs, as traditional computing systems do, the information would automatically slide along the racetrack to where it could be used."

And I'm focused on the word "automatically". Um, so racetrack memory is clairvoiant? No, it appears to be a FIFO method. So it appears "automatically" when it's time for it to appear. The 'seek time' is the speed of the loop. Sort of like watching your favorite race car coming down the stretch. The rest of the time, it's circulating. You get to see it "automatically" when it completes a lap, though RM apparently doesn't use a loop, so it shuttles the bits back and forth on a wire. The more I understand this, the more "automatically" becomes so much oversimplification.

Whatever, they didn't have to make it sound cooler than it already is.

Re:I'm not an engineer, but... (1)

oracleofbargth (16602) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702092)

Sounds like the tape in a Turing machine. They accelerate the data in one direction or the other, and can modify it when they stop.

IBM made a breakthrough? (1)

dlb (17444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702248)

I didnt realize they were still in the business of developing new stuff.

Seems the core of their business is acquiring other technology companies, and injecting red tape and excess bureaucracy into other enterprises through proliferation of their "Architectural Thinking" workshops.

Re:IBM made a breakthrough? (1)

ziggyzaggy (552814) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702940)

eh? who makes the machines that hold and move money? who makes the machines that do the CADD / CAE / CAM for the military industrial complex? Those ain't wintel boxes, m'boy....

Doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34702540)

Rambus will probably just amend one of their submarine patents to cover it.

Link to publication in Science (2)

perlith (1133671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34702690)

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6012/1810.abstract [sciencemag.org]

Courtesy of a better writeup at:
http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9202379/IBM_s_racetrack_memory_moves_closer_to_the_checkered_flag?taxonomyId=147 [computerworld.com]

In a paper published in the Dec. 24 issue of Science Magazine, the IBM researchers report that domain walls have mass and do indeed take a bit of time to speed up to peak velocity, and to slow down. Knowing this, they'll be able to move and retrieve data on a racetrack trip accurately. There's still a lot of work to be done before racetrack becomes a reality, but according to Parkin, the biggest questions -- whether an electric charge would move these domain walls, and whether or not they have mass -- have now been answered. Now the problems are more practical and less theoretical: how do you build a racetrack chip that works reliably with millions or even billions of these racetracks, for example. "Those are the questions that we can only address by building prototypes and testing them for a period of time," Parkin said.

And the official IBM press release:
https://www-304.ibm.com/jct03001c/press/us/en/pressrelease/33291.wss [ibm.com]


I see more data center utilization for this technology rather than consumer devices. Be nice if I could get a home NAS on one of these in 5-10 years.

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