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IBM Claims Spintronics Memory Breakthrough

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the dance-electrons-dance dept.

Data Storage 77

CWmike writes with this excerpt from ComputerWorld: "In a paper set to be published this week in the scientific journal Nature, IBM researchers are claiming a huge breakthrough in spintronics, a technology that could significantly boost capacity and lower power use of memory and storage devices. Spintronics, short for 'spin transport electronics,' uses the natural spin of electrons within a magnetic field in combination with a read/write head to lay down and read back bits of data on semiconductor material. By changing an electron's axis in an up or down orientation — all relative to the space in which it exists — physicists are able to have it represent bits of data. For example, an electron on an upward axis is a one; and an electron on a downward axis is a zero. Spintronics has long faced an intrinsic problem because electrons have only held an 'up or down' orientation for 100 picoseconds. A picosecond is one trillionth of a second [one thousandth of a nanosecond.] One hundred picoseconds is not enough time for a compute cycle, so transistors cannot complete a compute function and data storage is not persistent. In the study published in Nature, IBM Research and the Solid State Physics Laboratory at ETH Zurich announced they had found a way to synchronize electrons, which could extend their spin lifetime by 30 times to 1.1 nanoseconds, the time it takes for a 1 GHz processor to cycle."

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Was it really necessary... (2, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#40971759)

Was it really necessary to explain the SI unit 'pico' on Slashdot...?

Re:Was it really necessary... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40971793)

Sure, not everyone one who comes to /. is a long time geek. We all start somewhere.

Re:Was it really necessary... (4, Funny)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#40972355)

Put another way, if 100 slashdotters had to answer the question "pico = 10^x", does anybody really think we'd all get it right?

Re:Was it really necessary... (5, Funny)

Jade_Wayfarer (1741180) | more than 2 years ago | (#40972563)

1 hectoslashdotter cannot be wrong!

Re:Was it really necessary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40981689)

Put another way, if 100 slashdotters had to answer the question "pico = 10^x", does anybody really think we'd all get it right?

Put it yet another way; if a picosecond has to be explained then it is likely that "[one thousandth of a nanosecond.]" doesn't help very much and very few people can get a sense of how little one trillionth of something is.
The problem is not only that the explanation wasn't needed, it was not even helpful.

Re:Was it really necessary... (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40977091)

no, it was not necessary. If you're not a geek and don't know what pico means, look it up. Does CNBC explain what an IPO is what P/E ratio means is in every article?

Re:Was it really necessary... (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 2 years ago | (#40977699)

The better question might be, does CNBC explain what an Initial Public Offering or Profit/Earnings ratio is more or less often than does the Wall Street Journal, the Motley Fool, or Morningstar? If CNBC is actually professional, then every time someone writes an article that is likely to attract a lot of less informed readers, they actually go to extra lengths to explain Three Letter Acronyms and such in those particular articles. By that metric, this Slashdot summary is relatively unlikely to attract people unconversant with terms such as pico, and there's probably less need to spell everything out than in a summary about, say, "Why Windows 8 is dropping the Start button", or similar. That supports your take on the matter.
          My own instinct in writing, though, is to err on the side of caution, as I've done here. I know of some pros who swear by always explaining any technical term the first time it is used in a story. I think of it as going to extra trouble for the occasional reader of genuinely good will who may be young, inexperienced, trying to follow something that isn't in his or her native tongue, or otherwise having a few extra obstacles, through no fault of his or her own. Yes, that's probably coddling some lazy readers too, but they aren't why I would do it.

Re:Was it really necessary... (1)

kermidge (2221646) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983503)

Well done. I was taught long ago that the first use of an abbreviation, acronym, or technical term was to be spelled out and a concise definition given if appropriate.

As it happens, I knew what "pico" was; the problem I have is trying to visualize the very small and very large. I suppose that's why I appreciate things such as furlongs per fortnight.

Re:Was it really necessary... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40971795)

Was it really necessary for you to type 'Was it really necessary' twice? You could have just put an ellipse before the second part, especially since you ended the subject with an ellipse.

Re:Was it really necessary... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40972107)

Was it really necessary for you to type 'Was it really necessary' twice? You could have just put an ellipse before the second part, especially since you ended the subject with an ellipse.

It's an ellipsis, pal. You spent too much time in Mathematics courses and not enough in writing.

Re:Was it really necessary... (3, Funny)

petteyg359 (1847514) | more than 2 years ago | (#40972253)

I don't see any cone intersections in his text. Perhaps you meant ellipsis...

Re:Was it really necessary... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40973067)

I don't see any cone intersections in his text. Perhaps you meant ellipsis...

I do. Indeed, I see four of them in your comment.

Re:Was it really necessary... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40972915)

I absolutely hate posts that put part of the reply into the subject line, and you should burn for encouraging it.

Is Anti-Intellectualism Necessary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40971801)

Was it really necessary to explain the SI unit 'pico' on Slashdot...?

Yes because little Johnny's parents always told him he was a winner and that he is special. If he was expected to know something but didn't then that might hurt his precious little feelings. We can't have that! It might lead to him reading a book or two and well this is America! Clearly you see the problem.

Re:Was it really necessary... (3, Insightful)

inasity_rules (1110095) | more than 2 years ago | (#40971809)

Yes, this is an america-centric site, as we are often reminded, and you guys don't like SI units... :P

Queue the Metric/Imperial Wars:

In all seriousness, they could have just given the frequency and we'd have been fine. That refresh rate is very doable with a dedicated controller.

Re:Was it really necessary... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40971951)

Pico is a prefix [wikipedia.org] , not a unit.

Re:Was it really necessary... (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#40972491)

"Picosecond," which is what was used in the summary, is a metric unit.

Re:Was it really necessary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40975673)

Remind me, what's the customary unit of time? (And don't say fortnight; that's imperial).

Re:Was it really necessary... (1)

lengau (817416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40977955)

It's still part of the metric system.

It's "cue", you imbecile (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40973207)

"Queue" and "cue" are completely different words with different meanings. Use a fucking dictionary before you try to use words that are foreign to you.

Re:It's "cue", you imbecile (2)

schitso (2541028) | more than 2 years ago | (#40974265)

Maybe they meant to add that particular war to the war queue?

Re:It's "cue", you imbecile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40974755)

:)

Re:Was it really necessary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40974125)

Queue the Metric/Imperial Wars:

No need for that. All we need is to cue in the Queue/Cue wars!

Re:Was it really necessary... (1)

petteyg359 (1847514) | more than 2 years ago | (#40984481)

Be careful with that. You don't want Q to start introducing chaos...

Re:Was it really necessary... (4, Funny)

cellocgw (617879) | more than 2 years ago | (#40974451)

Queue the Metric/Imperial Wars:

So "Queue" is the metric equivalent of "Cue" ?

Re:Was it really necessary... (1)

inasity_rules (1110095) | more than 2 years ago | (#40974787)

It is a queue. Well maybe not you could possibly have both wars at once. Anyway, just a brainfart.

Re:Was it really necessary... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40971817)

Yes, not everyone has such a large penis on slash.

Re:Was it really necessary... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40971929)

...And if you're going to explain a SI unit in slashdot, you could at least use proper units.

For reference there are 1.2 picoseconds in an attofortnight.

Re:Was it really necessary... (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#40972259)

Was it really necessary to explain 0 and 1 as bits?

Re:Was it really necessary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40972953)

Was it really necessary to explain the SI unit 'pico' on Slashdot...?

"CWmike writes with this excerpt from ComputerWorld:"

Now, whether or not it was necessary to explain 'pico' on ComputerWorld, I really can't say.

RRDRAM? (2, Funny)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 2 years ago | (#40971803)

That's some really, really dynamic RAM. Don't skip a refresh cycle.

I prefer to call it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40972549)

I think a better name would be Super Mega Ultra Golem RAM. (in other words, SMUGRAM) ... that was terrible. I couldn't think of a word for G so I just put Golem.
I'm going to go cry in the stationary cupboard now. I'm sorry.

Re:I prefer to call it... (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#40972615)

I think a better name would be Super Mega Ultra Golem RAM. (in other words, SMUGRAM) ... that was terrible. I couldn't think of a word for G so I just put Golem.
I'm going to go cry in the stationary cupboard now. I'm sorry.

No crying in the tardis.

Re:I prefer to call it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40973107)

I couldn't think of a word for G

Great?

Re:I prefer to call it... (1)

deek (22697) | more than 2 years ago | (#40979909)

I couldn't think of a word for G

Gnarly?

Re:RRDRAM? (0)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 2 years ago | (#40972865)

It needs a 1GHz+ refresh cycle and it definitely needs ECC. Not parity, real ECC. How does this save power again?

Re:RRDRAM? (2)

dave420 (699308) | more than 2 years ago | (#40974081)

Read about it, and you'll see exactly how it saves power. It's a better use of your time than writing either lazy pleas for education or rhetorical nonsense.

Re:RRDRAM? (1)

sapgau (413511) | more than 2 years ago | (#40975657)

Wow, snarky. It was easier for you to explain but you decided to take the easiest posture every pseudo-geek takes.
I bet the reason you do it is because you don't know either so to show who's boss you act like a tough guy, big boy.

Re:RRDRAM? (2)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 2 years ago | (#40975773)

No, no I won't. See, the trick with semiconductor technologies is they're slow or they're hungry. If they're at GHz, they're power-hungry; if they're light on power, they're slow. Look at ARM. 0.1W of peak power at 600MHz. At 1200MHz, 1W of peak power. That's 10 times as much power consumption and it's a very light weight chip. DDR and QDR RAM uses an internal buffer and runs at high external speeds, but internally it's running at 100MHz or so instead of 400MHz. DDR3 particularly transfers on the up and down clock of a quadrupled clock, so twice per cycle you get a load of 4 chunks of data pulled down (8x speed). Why? Because running at a straight 1600MHz instead of 200MHz and sending a pulse on clock up and clock down would be lunacy, and the chip would overheat and suck tons and tons of electricity.

This memory actually has to be refreshed at 1000MHz internal clock. DDR3 fastest? 266 2/3 internal clock. At 1000MHz it has to read, then write back to refresh. That's got to be done across the entire array (each storage word needs its own refresh circuit, or you need one hell of a fast refresh circuit scanning memory). That's a hell of a lot of independent operations happening in parallel.

Re:RRDRAM? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#40980099)

So if I'm understanding this correctly, spintronic based RAM would have to be registered memory.

Re:RRDRAM? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 2 years ago | (#40985005)

It's not so much that. DDR has a buffer inside because it's operating at 200MHz instead of 800; internally it can, say, run 4 fetches in parallel and load a 1 word buffer, while the external clock then runs at 4 times the speed and drains that buffer. Registered RAM is something else.

The problem here is that DDR runs at 200MHz internally because running silicone at 800MHz leaks a lot of power and thus consumes a ton of power and gets very hot.

Internally you'd need DDR running at 1GHz for this at the very least. That's like 100 times as much power and then some. You'd need a solid state "read-write head" to read each byte, then rewrite it back for writeback refresh. It would get extremely hot and eat power like your mom eats load.

Maybe it'll help the gamers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40974753)

Between a Ghz refresh cycle and the need for -233 Celsius temperatures...this won't save any power in a desktop context even if the memory cells themselves use zero watts.

I'll suppose if you get down to -233, the rest of your computer can start superconducting, and you can get the extra 3 Ghz of raw CPU speed you need to play Call of Duty LXVII at full res.

Likely not (4, Insightful)

doublebackslash (702979) | more than 2 years ago | (#40971805)

Likely not, or not like they claim. Stories like this remind me of Maxwell's Demon. It seems to violate the rules, allows for unlimited energy! Except until you realize that the demon can't be run for free. They claim the breakthrough in stability of the spin states and neglect the cost in space and energy in everything else around it.

Stop this sensationalism! Give me some science on it and tell me some more details. How do they generate electrons with a single spin? How about a blurb about spintronics already being used in modern hard drive read heads? Cut the nonsense and tittilating lies about promises of the future and tell us the details.

Geez

Re:Likely not (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40971871)

> How do they generate electrons with a single spin?

Apply a magnetic field.

> How about a blurb about spintronics already being used in modern hard drive read heads?

The article is about semiconductor RAM, not ferromagnetic hard drives and not about their read heads.

> Cut the nonsense and tittilating lies about promises of the future and tell us the details.
DITO

Re:Likely not (3, Insightful)

GuldKalle (1065310) | more than 2 years ago | (#40971907)

Just because the product is not in the shops by tomorrow doesn't mean it's sensationalism.
What we have just witnessed is science. What follows is a lot of optimizations, experiments, cost/benefit analyses, prototyping etc, aka engineering.
It is a breakthrough because the engineers have gotten a a new tool in their toolbox.
It is not sensationalism because there are not a extravagant claims.

Geez

Re:Likely not (1, Insightful)

doublebackslash (702979) | more than 2 years ago | (#40972063)

There is an extravagant claim.

IBM researchers are claiming a huge breakthrough in spintronics, a technology that could significantly boost capacity and lower power use of memory and storage devices

But that isn't really even the worst part. It might be true, it might come to pass. Fine, fine. Don't gush about it for half the article, or if they insist on gushing then at least lay out the chllenges and technical details needed to get there.

Sorry I seemed as though I don't appreciate their work. I do. I just want more than a friggin advertisment for an article.

Re:Likely not (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40972981)

I just want more than a friggin advertisment for an article.

There isn't an existing product or even one in the forseeable future, so what exactly do you think they are advertising?

Re:Likely not (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 2 years ago | (#40976125)

I just want more than a friggin advertisment for an article.

There isn't an existing product or even one in the forseeable future, so what exactly do you think they are advertising?

Funding?

Re:Likely not (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40972109)

It is not sensationalism because there are not a extravagant claims.

Its toward the end of the summary, where the only thing preventing spintronic deployment is the refresh rate was immensely way too high, now its merely too high.

As you listed, there's a lot more work to be done if this is ever deployable. Just lowering the refresh rate from laughable to ridiculous is not enough.

Re:Likely not (2)

Frequency Domain (601421) | more than 2 years ago | (#40972601)

Just because the product is not in the shops by tomorrow doesn't mean it's sensationalism.

True, but I'm still waiting for my flying car.

Re:Likely not (5, Informative)

docmordin (2654319) | more than 2 years ago | (#40972439)

Give me some science on it and tell me some more details.

Since they didn't give a link to it, here's the citation for the paper in question: M. P. Walser, et al., "Direct mapping of the formation of a persistent spin helix", Nature Phys., 2012 (accepted, in press). You can read all of the wonderfully gritty, and hard-to-parse, details in that paper.

If you want to learn more about the science behind spintronics, feel free to peruse:

M. Johnson and R. H. Silsbee, "Interfacial charge-spin coupling: Injection and detection of spin magnetization in metals", Phys. Rev. Lett. 55: 1790-1793, 1985
M. N. Baibich, et al., "Giant magnetoresistance of (001)Fe/(001)Cr magnetic superlattices", Phys. Rev. Lett. 61: 2472-2475, 1988
G. Binasch, et al., "Enhanced magnetoresistance in layered magnetic structures with antiferromagnetic interlayer exchange", Phys. Rev. B 29: 4828, 1989
S. Datta and B. Das, "Electronic analog of the electrooptic modulator", Appl. Phys. Lett. 56: 665-667, 1990
J. Kikkawa and D. Awschalom, "Resonant spin amplification in n-type GaAs", Phys. Rev. Lett. 80: 4313, 1998
B. T. Jonker, et al., "Robust electrical spin injection into a semiconductor heterostructure", Phys. Rev. B 62: 8180-8183, 2000
A. T. Hanbicki, et al., "Efficient electrical spin injection from a magnetic metal/tunnel barrier contact into a semiconductor", Appl. Phys. Lett. 80: 1240, 2002
S. van Dijken, et al., "Room temperature operation of a high output current magnetic tunnel transistor", Appl. Phys. Lett. 80: 3364-3366, 2002
X. Jiang, et al., "Optical detection of hot-electron spin injection into GaAs from a magnetic tunnel transistor source", Phys. Rev. Lett. 90: 256603, 2003
J. Schliemann, et al., "Nonballistic spin-field-effect transistor", Phys. Rev. Lett. 90: 146801, 2003
B. A. Bernevig, et al., "Exact SU(2) symmetry and persistent spin helix in a spin-orbit coupled system", Phys. Rev. Lett. 97: 236601: 2006
X. Lou, et al., "Electrical detection of spin transport in lateral ferromagnet–semiconductor devices", Nature Phys. 3: 197-202, 2007
M. Holub, et al., "Electrical spin injection and threshold reduction in a semiconductor laser", Phys. Rev. Lett. 98: 146603, 2007
I. Appelbaum, et al., "Electronic measurement and control of spin transport in silicon", Nature 447: 295-298, 2007
M. Duckheim and D. Loss, "Resonant spin polarization and spin current in a two-dimensional electron gas", Phys. Rev. B 75: 201305, 2007
B. Behin-Aein, et al., "Proposal for an all-spin logic device with built-in memory", Nature Nano. 5: 266-270, 2010
J. Wunderlich, et al., "Spin Hall effect transistor", Science 330: 1801-1804, 2010

How about a blurb about spintronics already being used in modern hard drive read heads?

I can do better than a blurb, I can provide you with references to the underlying science:

M. Julliere, "Tunneling between ferromagnetic films", Phys. Lett. 54: 225-226, 1975
J. S. Moodera, et al. "Large magnetoresistance at room temperature in ferromagnetic thin film tunnel junctions", Phys. Rev. Lett. 74: 3273-3276
W. H. Butler, et al., "Spin-dependent tunneling conductance of Fe/MgO/Fe sandwiches", Phys. Rev. B. 63: 054416, 2001
J. Mathon and A. Umerski, "Theory of tunneling magnetoresistance of an epitaxial Fe/MgO/Fe (001) junction", Phys. Rev. B. 63: 220403, 2001
M. Bowen, et al., "Large magnetoresistance in Fe/MgO/FeCo(001) epitaxial tunnel junctions on GaAs(001)", Appl. Phys. Lett. 79: 1655, 2001
S. Yuasa, et al., "Giant room-temperature magnetoresistance in single-crystal Fe/MgO/Fe magnetic tunnel junctions", Nature Mater. 3: 868-871, 2004
S. S. P. Parkin, et al., "Giant tunnelling magnetoresistance at room temperature with MgO (100) tunnel barriers" Nature Mater. 3: 862-867, 2004
S. Ikeda, et al., "Tunnel magnetoresistance of 604% at 300 K by suppression of Ta diffusion in CoFeB/MgO/CoFeB pseudo-spin-valves annealed at high temperature", Appl. Phys. Lett. 93: 082508, 2008

Re:Likely not (0)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | more than 2 years ago | (#40973779)

It's worse than it seems. The summary is self-contradictory. "Storage devices" means something in the tech business. Means data persists when the power is off. Especially in the context of "memory and storage devices" as it says. Then it ends saying this breakthrough could boost the longevity of detectable spin all the way up to 1.1 nanoseconds. That sounds a looong way from a storage device to me.

Re:Likely not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40974403)

> in the tech business

implying that physicists and engineers give a shit what retarded it monkeys think

it's a storage device because it stores data

This sound nice and all, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40971843)

... how long before this technology becomes available?
(I mean real time, in standard years, not in researchers' years [xkcd.com] )

Government & Stealth Malware (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40971855)

Nobody Seems To Notice and Nobody Seems To Care - Government & Stealth Malware

In Response To Slashdot Article: Former Pentagon Analyst: China Has Backdoors To 80% of Telecoms 87

How many rootkits does the US[2] use officially or unofficially?

How much of the free but proprietary software in the US spies on you?

Which software would that be?

Visit any of the top freeware sites in the US, count the number of thousands or millions of downloads of free but proprietary software, much of it works, again on a proprietary Operating System, with files stored or in transit.

How many free but proprietary programs have you downloaded and scanned entire hard drives, flash drives, and other media? Do you realize you are giving these types of proprietary programs complete access to all of your computer's files on the basis of faith alone?

If you are an atheist, the comparison is that you believe in code you cannot see to detect and contain malware on the basis of faith! So you do believe in something invisible to you, don't you?

I'm now going to touch on a subject most anti-malware, commercial or free, developers will DELETE on most of their forums or mailing lists:

APT malware infecting and remaining in BIOS, on PCI and AGP devices, in firmware, your router (many routers are forced to place backdoors in their firmware for their government) your NIC, and many other devices.

Where are the commercial or free anti-malware organizations and individual's products which hash and compare in the cloud and scan for malware for these vectors? If you post on mailing lists or forums of most anti-malware organizations about this threat, one of the following actions will apply: your post will be deleted and/or moved to a hard to find or 'deleted/junk posts' forum section, someone or a team of individuals will mock you in various forms 'tin foil hat', 'conspiracy nut', and my favorite, 'where is the proof of these infections?' One only needs to search Google for these threats and they will open your malware world view to a much larger arena of malware on devices not scanned/supported by the scanners from these freeware sites. This point assumed you're using the proprietary Microsoft Windows OS. Now, let's move on to Linux.

The rootkit scanners for Linux are few and poor. If you're lucky, you'll know how to use chkrootkit (but you can use strings and other tools for analysis) and show the strings of binaries on your installation, but the results are dependent on your capability of deciphering the output and performing further analysis with various tools or in an environment such as Remnux Linux. None of these free scanners scan the earlier mentioned areas of your PC, either! Nor do they detect many of the hundreds of trojans and rootkits easily available on popular websites and the dark/deep web.

Compromised defenders of Linux will look down their nose at you (unless they are into reverse engineering malware/bad binaries, Google for this and Linux and begin a valuable education!) and respond with a similar tone, if they don't call you a noob or point to verifying/downloading packages in a signed repo/original/secure source or checking hashes, they will jump to conspiracy type labels, ignore you, lock and/or shuffle the thread, or otherwise lead you astray from learning how to examine bad binaries. The world of Linux is funny in this way, and I've been a part of it for many years. The majority of Linux users, like the Windows users, will go out of their way to lead you and say anything other than pointing you to information readily available on detailed binary file analysis.

Don't let them get you down, the information is plenty and out there, some from some well known publishers of Linux/Unix books. Search, learn, and share the information on detecting and picking through bad binaries. But this still will not touch the void of the APT malware described above which will survive any wipe of r/w media. I'm convinced, on both *nix and Windows, these pieces of APT malware are government in origin. Maybe not from the US, but most of the 'curious' malware I've come across in poisoned binaries, were written by someone with a good knowledge in English, some, I found, functioned similar to the now well known Flame malware. From my experience, either many forum/mailing list mods and malware developers/defenders are 'on the take', compromised themselves, and/or working for a government entity.

Search enough, and you'll arrive at some lone individuals who cry out their system is compromised and nothing in their attempts can shake it of some 'strange infection'. These posts receive the same behavior as I said above, but often they are lone posts which receive no answer at all, AT ALL! While other posts are quickly and kindly replied to and the 'strange infection' posts are left to age and end up in a lost pile of old threads.

If you're persistent, the usual challenge is to, "prove it or STFU" and if the thread is not attacked or locked/shuffled and you're lucky to reference some actual data, they will usually attack or ridicule you and further drive the discussion away from actual proof of APT infections.

The market is ripe for an ambitious company or individual to begin demanding companies and organizations who release firmware and design hardware to release signed and hashed packages and pour this information into the cloud, so everyone's BIOS is checked, all firmware on routers, NICs, and other devices are checked, and malware identified and knowledge reported and shared openly.

But even this will do nothing to stop backdoored firmware (often on commercial routers and other networked devices of real importance for government use - which again opens the possibility of hackers discovering these backdoors) people continue to use instead of refusing to buy hardware with proprietary firmware/software.

Many people will say, "the only safe computer is the one disconnected from any network, wireless, wired, LAN, internet, intranet" but I have seen and you can search yourself for and read about satellite, RF, temperature, TEMPEST (is it illegal in your part of the world to SHIELD your system against some of these APT attacks, especially TEMPEST? And no, it's not simply a CRT issue), power line and many other attacks which can and do strike computers which have no active network connection, some which have never had any network connection. Some individuals have complained they receive APT attacks throughout their disconnected systems and they are ridiculed and labeled as a nutter. The information exists, some people have gone so far as to scream from the rooftops online about it, but they are nutters who must have some serious problems and this technology with our systems could not be possible.

I believe most modern computer hardware is more powerful than many of us imagine, and a lot of these systems swept from above via satellite and other attacks. Some exploits take advantage of packet radio and some of your proprietary hardware. Some exploits piggyback and unless you really know what you're doing, and even then... you won't notice it.

Back to the Windows users, a lot of them will dismiss any strange activity to, "that's just Windows!" and ignore it or format again and again only to see the same APT infected activity continue. Using older versions of sysinternals, I've observed very bizarre behavior on a few non networked systems, a mysterious chat program running which doesn't exist on the system, all communication methods monitored (bluetooth, your hard/software modems, and more), disk mirroring software running[1], scans running on different but specific file types, command line versions of popular Windows freeware installed on the system rather than the use of the graphical component, and more.

[1] In one anonymous post on pastebin, claiming to be from an intel org, it blasted the group Anonymous, with a bunch of threats and information, including that their systems are all mirrored in some remote location anyway.

[2] Or other government, US used in this case due to the article source and speculation vs. China. This is not to defend China, which is one messed up hell hole on several levels and we all need to push for human rights and freedom for China's people. For other, freer countries, however, the concentration camps exist but you wouldn't notice them, they originate from media, mostly your TV, and you don't even know it. As George Carlin railed about "Our Owners", "nobody seems to notice and nobody seems to care".

[3] http://www.stallman.org/ [stallman.org]

Try this yourself on a wide variety of internet forums and mailing lists, push for malware scanners to scan more than files, but firmware/BIOS. See what happens, I can guarantee it won't be pleasant, especially with APT cases.

So scan away, or blissfully ignore it, but we need more people like RMS[3] in the world. Such individuals tend to be eccentric but their words ring true and clear about electronics and freedom.

I believe we're mostly pwned, whether we would like to admit it or not, blind and pwned, yet fiercely holding to misinformation, often due to lack of self discovery and education, and "nobody seems to notice and nobody seems to care".

##

Schneier has covered it before: power line fluctuations (differences on the wire in keys pressed).

There's thermal attacks against cpus and temp, also:

ENF (google it)

A treat (ENF Collector in Java):

sourceforge dot net fwdslash projects fwdslash nfienfcollector

No single antimalware scanner exists which offers the ability to scan (mostly proprietary) firmware on AGP/PCI devices (sound cards, graphics cards, usb novelty devices excluding thumb drives), BIOS/CMOS.

If you boot into ultimate boot cd you can use an archane text interface to dump BIOS/CMOS and examine/checksum.

The real attacks which survive disk formats and wipes target your PCI devices and any firmware which may be altered/overwritten with something special. It is not enough to scan your hard drive(s) and thumb drives, the real dangers with teeth infect your hardware devices.

When is the last time you:

Audited your sound card for malware?
Audited your graphics card for malware?
Audited your network card for malware?

Google for:

* AGP and PCI rootkit(s)
* Network card rootkit(s)
* BIOS/CMOS rootkit(s)

Our modern PC hardware is capable of much more than many can imagine.

Do you:

* Know your router's firmware may easily be replaced on a hacker's whim?
* Shield all cables against leakage and attacks
* Still use an old CRT monitor and beg for TEMPEST attacks?
* Use TEMPEST resistant fonts in all of your applications including your OS?
* Know whether or not your wired keyboard has keypresses encrypted as they pass to your PC from the keyboard?
* Use your PC on the grid and expose yourself to possible keypress attacks?
* Know your network card is VERY exploitable when plugged into the net and attacked by a hard core blackhat or any vicious geek with the know how?
* Search out informative papers on these subjects and educate your friends and family about these attacks?
* Contact antimalware companies and urge them to protect against many or all these attacks?

Do you trust your neighbors? Are they all really stupid when it comes to computing or is there a geek or two without a conscience looking to exploit these areas?

The overlooked threat are the potential civilian rogues stationed around you, especially in large apartment blocks who feed on unsecured wifi to do their dirty work.

With the recent news of Russian spies, whether or not this news was real or a psyop, educate yourself on the present threats which all antimalware scanners fail to protect against and remove any smug mask you may wear, be it Linux or OpenBSD, or the proprietary Windows and Mac OS you feel are properly secured and not vulnerable to any outside attacks because you either don't need an antivirus scanner (all are inept to serious attacks) or use one or several (many being proprietary mystery machines sending data to and from your machine for many reasons, one is to share your information with a group or set database to help aid in threats), the threats often come in mysterious ways.

Maybe the ancients had it right: stone tablets and their own unique language(s) rooted in symbolism.

#

I'm more concerned about new rootkits which target PCI devices, such as the graphics card and the optical drives, also, BIOS. Where are the malware scanners which scan PCI devices and BIOS for mismatches? All firmware, BIOS and on PCI devices should be checksummed and saved to match with others in the cloud, and archived when the computer is first used, backing up signed firmware.

When do you recall seeing signed router firmware upgrades with any type of checksum to check against? Same for PCI devices and optical drives and BIOS.

Some have begun with BIOS security:

http://www.biosbits.org/ [biosbits.org]

Some BIOS has write protection in its configuration, a lot of newer computers don't.

#

"Disconnect your PC from the internet and don't add anything you didn't create yourself. It worked for the NOC list machine in Mission Impossible"

The room/structure was likely heavily shielded, whereas most civvies don't shield their house and computer rooms. There is more than meets the eye to modern hardware.

Google:

subversion hack:
tagmeme(dot)com/subhack/

network card rootkits and trojans
pci rootkits
packet radio
xmit "fm fingerprinting" software
"specific emitter identification"
forums(dot)qrz(dot)com

how many malware scanners scan bios/cmos and pci/agp cards for malware? zero, even the rootkit scanners. have you checksummed/dumped your bios/cmos and firmware for all your pci/agp devices and usb devices, esp vanity usb devices in and outside the realm of common usb devices (thumbdrives, external hdds, printers),

Unless your computer room is shielded properly, the computers may still be attacked and used, I've personally inspected computers with no network connection running mysterious code in the background which task manager for windows and the eqiv for *nix does not find, and this didn't find it all.

Inspect your windows boot partition in *nix with hexdump and look for proxy packages mentioned along with command line burning programs and other oddities. Computers are more vulnerable than most would expect.

You can bet all of the malware scanners today, unless they are developed by some lone indy coder in a remote country, employ whitelisting of certain malware and none of them scan HARDWARE devices apart from the common usb devices.

Your network cards, sound cards, cd/dvd drives, graphics cards, all are capable of carrying malware to survive disk formatting/wiping.

Boot from a Linux live cd and use hexdump to examine your windows (and *nix) boot sectors to potentially discover interesting modifications by an unknown party.

#
eof

Eek! (2, Interesting)

gaelfx (1111115) | more than 2 years ago | (#40971861)

Spintronics...uses the natural spin of electrons within a magnetic field in combination with a read/write head to lay down and read back bits of data on semiconductor material.

I'm wondering if this will fail the same way HDDs do when the head falls? Whenever I see something about read/write heads, I get flashblacks to all the clicks-of-death I've heard over the years, and it always makes me wince a little.

I'll admit it, I don't entirely understand what they're talking about here, but it seems a little scant on details such as whether or not this uses readily available (cheap) materials or uses some rare elements that are possibly put to better use elsewhere. I'm sure many will disagree with me and point out cases where I'm wrong, but I'm personally not all that concerned about having more storage, I've got more than I know what to do with at the moment. What I would rather see is some technology that is more easily recyclable.

Re:Eek! (2)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 2 years ago | (#40971897)

If the read/write head fails, it will make a really really terrible scratching sound against the spinning electron!

but did they patent it? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40971945)

if so fuck 'em! doing advanced research and then expecting to get paid for it is just fucking bullshit! if samsung and google can't steal it then it ain't fair! FUCK IBM!

etch a sketch? (1, Funny)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#40972019)

If they're relying on the simple rotation of a very tiny particle, couldn't I then significantly erase parts of my SSD by simply shaking it? In other words, erase it like an etch a sketch? :-P I mean how hard I can shake it compared to the mass and energy of a tiny spinning particle, it could start spinning a different way, right? That and ionizing radiation in any tiny dose would blow apart all your data. Get read for an SSD and RAM sticks cased in lead.

Re:etch a sketch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40972055)

facepalm.jpg

Re:etch a sketch? (1)

Theophany (2519296) | more than 2 years ago | (#40972211)

This is a troll, right?

Re:etch a sketch? (3, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40972283)

I mean how hard I can shake it compared to the mass and energy of a tiny spinning particle, it could start spinning a different way, right?

LOL you wish. The story of chemistry and physics would be a lot different if that were true for protons. I've fooled around with proton magnetometers and NMR machines in chemistry lab and its not so simple to align proton spins. In fact its really freaking hard and energy intensive to align particle spins in general, not just proton spins. This would make an awesome basis for a hard sci-fi story, however. Someone please write a story about a steampunk NMR machine, so I can buy it. I think a Nikola Tesla who invented a steampunk NMR machine in 1870 would be much more interesting than yet another "vampire Tesla". My brain is feeling especially warped today and I'd also like to request a pre-quel involving a steampunk fourier transform infra red spectroscopy analyzer. I would have to think for a minute if there's any technical reason why Fourier himself couldn't have built a FTIR in his era. Hmm glowing charcoal as a IR source, and an early thermometer and lens arrangement as a ghetto IR bolometer, feeding reams of measurement data to hundreds of human clerks making calculations for years to generate each IR spectra, plus or minus an analytical engine or two... Hell a Beowulf cluster of analytical engines...

As for aligning electron spins like this article its still a huge PITA but the electromagnetic world depends on it. I can't think of any ferromagnetic material that can be (de)magnetized by waving it around... hammer blow level impact will realign the domains but just shakin it isn't going to do it. The reason why can be found on the wikipedia article for coercivity where basically the stuff you make recording media out of doesn't want to demagnetize without a serious fight.

Re:etch a sketch? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 2 years ago | (#40972917)

The entire plot of The Gap Cycle is based on SOD-CMOS chips. It's true. When you get to the last book you'll look back at it all and be like ... holy shit, it is!

The. ENTIRE. Plot. All of it. Some of the most significant back story (explaining parts of the story BEFORE the story started) requires a thorough explanation of how SOD-CMOS works, and most of the actual plot wouldn't have occurred without that back story.

Re:etch a sketch? (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#40973401)

One can do Earth-field NMR with "RF" at 2kHz (audio frequencies!), see for example Magritek's Terranova-MRI [magritek.com] .

Re:etch a sketch? (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 2 years ago | (#40972729)

I'm not a phycisist and I actually know very little of physics even in general, but, well, if it was that easy to alter the state of an electron through simple G-forces then none of the devices we make would be possible. Even a simple car tire is subjected to thousands of times stronger forces than you can generate with nothing but your arms, let alone modern fighter jets and space rockets. Basically, if you wanted to alter the state of electrons like that you would have to shake it so fast your whole body would've burst into flames long before you reach the needed speed just from nothing more than friction. I would definitely love to see you do that, would make a helluva show. Please do inform us when you do that!

Re:etch a sketch? (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 2 years ago | (#40975659)

If they're relying on the simple rotation of a very tiny particle, couldn't I then significantly erase parts of my SSD by simply shaking it?

Ah, so you think that an electron's spin is the same as a macroscopic physical spinning, like a top or a bicycle wheel.
It's not - at least not as far as we will be able to tell. It's more of an analogy that helps explain/confuse the quantum electric/magnetic properties of the electron with larger scale, more directly observable physics.

Numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40972103)

So I wonder what kinds of numbers we're talking about now as far as memory capacity and power usage goes.

Not a breakthrough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40972173)

A breakthrough is when it leads to a useful item to be produced. Call me back when the spins can be held for an order of magnitude 9 or 10 (second or minute).

Re:Not a breakthrough (1)

sjwt (161428) | more than 2 years ago | (#40972387)

Besides, why do all that effort getting the spin to last 30 times longer.. Take the short rout and work on a 30ghz processor! Problem solved!

Re:Not a breakthrough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40973073)

Call me back when the spins can be held for an order of magnitude 9 or 10 (second or minute).

Then I guess you are still waiting for the call about DRAM, because its required refresh time is much less then 1 second.

Heat dissipation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40972713)

What's the heat dissipation of this technology? If it is low enough, maybe lifetime extension is not needed. Just run it at 30GHz. Probably some naive wishing on my part.

Math is hard (3, Interesting)

PTBarnum (233319) | more than 2 years ago | (#40973503)

Since when does 100 picoseconds * 30 = 1.1 nanoseconds?

They used a... (1)

tanveer1979 (530624) | more than 2 years ago | (#40974489)

Pentium

Re:Math is hard (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40974849)

Since when does 100 picoseconds * 30 = 1.1 nanoseconds?

The article said it increased the duration by 30 times, which is not the same thing as to 30 times its starting value.

So you should be asking "Since when does 100 picoseconds * 31 = 1.1 nanoseconds?"

And if you turn it upside down... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40974923)

If you turn it upside down, is all the data inverted?

Spintronics makes me dizzy (1)

jelle (14827) | more than 2 years ago | (#40980307)

See subject.

Re:Spintronics makes me dizzy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40981407)

May I lick your pussy?
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