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Scientists Unveil Most Dense Memory Circuit Ever Made

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the size-matters dept.

Data Storage 249

adamlazz writes "The most dense computer memory circuit ever fabricated, capable of storing around 2,000 words in a unit the size of a white blood cell, was unveiled by scientists in California. The team of experts at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) who developed the 160-kilobit memory cell say it has a bit density of 100 gigabits per square centimeter, a new record. The cell is capable of storing a file the size of the United States' Declaration of Independence with room left over."

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Press Conference Transcript (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17745328)

[unveiling the most dense memory circuit ever made]
Dr. Tufnel: Look... densest memory circuit ever, so dense you can't even see the data on it, so dense it's never been used.
Reporter: [points his finger] It's never been used ...?
Dr. Tufnel: Don't touch it!
Reporter: We'll I wasn't going to touch it, I was just pointing at it.
Dr. Tufnel: Well... don't point! It can't be used.
Reporter: Don't point, okay. Can I look at it?
Dr. Tufnel: No, no. That's it, you've seen enough of that one.

DNA memory (2, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745340)

I know DNA has been proposed as a storage mechanism before. Since the immense human genome fits inside a cell, wouldn't DNA offer much denser storage?

DNA-memory and computer bio-viruses (3, Insightful)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745408)

I know DNA has been proposed as a storage mechanism before. Since the immense human genome fits inside a cell, wouldn't DNA offer much denser storage?

And have a stray biological virus get in and alter my computer's DNA-based memory?

I wouldn't want to think what the computer would use to alter its DNA-based memory fast enough to be useful, let alone what would happen if it escaped and latched onto an organism.

DNA has fault tolerance. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17745500)

DNA has built-in fault tolerance. By contrast, this new memory circuit by Caltech would vaporize once an alpha particle hits it.

Re:DNA has fault tolerance. (4, Informative)

glwtta (532858) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746004)

DNA replication has fault tolerance, DNA itself corrupts all the time. Hell, you store it twice in every cell and still have all these problems with integrity (of course that's a large part of what DNA is for, but for computer systems that part is irrelevant).

I just can't see biological systems ever achieving the kind of consistency we expect from computers. Do we really want to go to the good old days of running a computation several times and taking the average result as the answer?

Re:DNA has fault tolerance. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17746356)

Might make a good genetic algorithm generator, though.

Re:DNA has fault tolerance. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17746466)

Ah, memories...

9 * 9 = 80.99999

Re:DNA memory (4, Insightful)

phoenixwade (997892) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745612)

As a Read only option, I suspect. The problem isn't really data density, it's data access speed. Three terrabytes of storage isn't going to do you much practical good if it takes two hours to find and recover the bit of information you want.

Re:DNA memory (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17745840)

Three terrabytes of storage isn't going to do you much practical good if it takes two hours to find and recover the bit of information you want.

There is a large class of data storage requirements that could be met with a two hour seek time. As long as the throughput is there, it could replace tape drive type storage applications, for example.

Or extremely large databases, which may be 99.995% write. Archival storage would be another example, if the medium proved hardy enough.

While it won't replace RAM or hard drives, I would LOVE to see extremely high density storage of this type.

Re:DNA memory (2, Insightful)

Speed Pour (1051122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746080)

Not a reliable media. Biological media, especially if it's based on Human DNA would potentially suffer from disease or short lifespan (begging the question of a special environment to keep it functional and stable). Non-living cells of DNA could be used to circumvent disease and lifespan issues, however they would deteriorate far more rapidly under any known method of reading (be it electrical, photo-reactive, irradiated, or chemical)

A further set of issues, irradiation. Especially at such a small size, there's a higher danger of DNA material becoming corrupt due to mutation. Inside of a box filled with magnetic fields, electrical fields, high temperature, and continually higher frequency RF...well, I wouldn't be confident that my G wouldn't randomly mutate into a C.

It's not a bad idea at all, it's just that science isn't anywhere close to being capable of using this as a reliable medium inside of a computer.

As others have said, it seems that it would have to be read-only unless somebody figures out how to control irradiated mutation...then who needs a computer, we can change our own DNA to become more capable than any computer we could ever build. Wow, I've seen too many episodes of Dark Angel

Really? (5, Funny)

HBI (604924) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745344)

The cell is capable of storing a file the size of the United States' Declaration of Independence with room left over."

Not in Microsoft Word format. Maybe ASCII.

Re:Really? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17745768)

Considering the way your independence is shrinking by the day, I guess it will soon fit (in word format).

Re:Really? (1)

lordmatthias215 (919632) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745854)

Right, because the Declaration of Independance is totally a part of our legal system, and is revised everytime one of our civil liberties is limited by law or policy.

Re:Really? (4, Funny)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745960)

Wait, so how many United States' Declaration of Independence do you get per Libraries of Congress? At room temperature, obviously.

Re:Really? (4, Funny)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746162)

I think I speak for the rest of the world when I say 'How the fuck long is the Declaration of Independence?"

Re:Really? (1)

gravij (685575) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746524)

I think I speak for the rest of the world when I say 'How the fuck long is the Declaration of Independence?"

Perhaps more importantly how many Declarations of Independence are in one Library of Congress?

Re:Really? (4, Informative)

HBI (604924) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746542)

Original text from NARA [archives.gov]
Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

Microsoft Word say:

3 pages
8 paragraphs
111 lines
1338 words
6782 characters
8114 characters (with spaces)

Re:Really? (5, Funny)

Runefox (905204) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746608)

1338 words
So if the "The" at the beginning of the bolded opening sentence were dropped, the USA would instantaneously be the best place on earth?

Re:Really? (0, Flamebait)

pavium (557126) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746244)

So the US Declaration of Independence has become a standard size for a document?

As a proud Brit, I HAVE NO IDEA how large the USDI is, nor why you'd want to devote some exotic storage technology to preserving it.

Re:Really? (5, Funny)

Americano (920576) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746316)

You know, I'm pretty sure the British government received a copy of it... look around, maybe you still have it. :)

Yes but.... (1)

Hubertus_BigenD (877546) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745350)

The important question is how much pr0n can i fit on the head of a pin?

Re:Yes but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17745646)

About 1024 images of the best porn imaginable: http://www.maxitmag.com/images/stories/news/nvidia /8800gtx.jpg [maxitmag.com]

Check out the the knobs on that baby!

Public Service Announcement (5, Funny)

mrsam (12205) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745356)

Please post all "Libraries Of Congress" jokes in this thread. Help keep Slashdot clean. Thank you.

Re:Public Service Announcement (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17745626)

1 Library of Congress = ? Declaration of Independence

Library of Congress in Declaration of Independences

Declaration of Independence in bytes

Damn, didn't work in google calculator [google.com] .

The real question is... (5, Funny)

ENOENT (25325) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745360)

how many Libraries of Congress you can fit into an elephant with this technology.

Re:The real question is... (5, Insightful)

adpsimpson (956630) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745818)

In all seriousness, I know how long a London Bus is, I know that an elephant is pretty heavy, I know roughly how much shelf space the Encyclopedia Britannica takes up and I know tall buildings can be quite tall.

But I have no real concept of how big a white blood cell is, or how much some thousand words (how many thousand? It's out my mind now that it's off the screen...) really is.

For all I know, the hard drive in my computer could be storing 600 birthday cards per germ already and I wouldn't have a clue.

Anyone care to quote how fast the Concorde went in Ford Escorts per millisecond? [google.co.uk] (the link will give you a good start)

Re:The real question is... (2, Interesting)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746574)

I have three sets of Encyclopedia Britannica, so know well how much space it takes up. One is the last set where the volumes are a single series from A-Z, the second is the following year when they split it to several series (Macropedia, Micropedia, I think are two of the designators) and the third is an early 20'th century set in leather bound octavio size volumes.

It's more fun to browse through a volume of it on a rainy day than it is to hyperlink all over wikipedia.

Re:The real question is... (3, Funny)

joe_bruin (266648) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745820)

how many Libraries of Congress you can fit into an elephant with this technology.

So you want to know the LoC / metric pachyderm of this technology? I'm not sure, but don't go by what it says on the box, they define a kilo-Library of Congress to be 1000 LoCs, not 1024.

Re:The real question is... (5, Funny)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746032)

how many Libraries of Congress you can fit into an elephant with this technology.

Well, this page [techtarget.com] estimates LoC at 10 terabytes, which works out to 81920 gigabits. According to the article, a bit density of 100 gigabits per square inch means that you'd need 819.20 square inches to store the Library of Congress.

According to this page [iucn.org] , an elephant can reach 11 feet tall, or 132 inches, and 30 feet long, or 360 inches. According to this page [galumpia.co.uk] , an elephant can reach 6'4" wide, or 76 inches. That's a dimension of 132 x 360 x 76 inches, or 3,611,520 square inches — assuming cubic elephants (there's a phrase you don't hear every day!).

Given these figures, a reasonable first guess would be that you could fit approximately 4,400 Libraries of Congress into an elephantine memory circuit. Or, if you prefer to work with more manageable quantities, 4.4 megalocs per kilophant.

How long before Google add LoCs to their calculator?

Re:The real question is... (4, Funny)

skribe (26534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746072)

African or Asian elephant?

Re:The real question is... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17746326)

Don't you mean African or European? Wait...what? Oh...wrong species, move along, nothing to see here.

Its a question of weight ratios

Re:The real question is... (1)

Assassin bug (835070) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746444)

His link followed to a page on African elephants. The largest of the elephants.

Re:The real question is... (4, Funny)

Drooling Iguana (61479) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746486)

But African elephants are non-migratory!

nice storage density (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17745362)

I gotta get some of these in my cluster!

COMPARISONISTICS! (5, Funny)

adam.dorsey (957024) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745372)

The cell is capable of storing a file the size of the United States' Declaration of Independence with room left over.
Yeah, but how many 747s does it weigh? ...no, wait, how many Sears Towers is its height?

Damn, none of my vague comparisons fit...

WAIT! How many angels can dance on it? That one is for small stuff, right?

Re:COMPARISONISTICS! (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745414)

No. It's Libraries of Congress per 747 when measuring information density.

Re:COMPARISONISTICS! (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745698)

Yeah, but how many 747s does it weigh? ...no, wait, how many Sears Towers is its height?
This is such a cliche on slashdot.

Give the summary credit for stating the following: "100 gigabits per square centimeter." That is a fine way to measure storage density.

Re:COMPARISONISTICS! (1)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745928)

Actually, the summary made me think of the cliche instantly with this line:

The cell is capable of storing a file the size of the United States' Declaration of Independence with room left over.

I mused to myself, "Cool, now we can measure storage in USDoIs!" I fully expected to see the very posts you are complaining about after that.

Re:COMPARISONISTICS! (4, Insightful)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745964)

Um... gigabits per square centimeter is a horrible storage density metric. We need to deal with volume - unless we suddenly moved to a 2-dimensional universe - and even volume isn't perfect. For a drive platter do you only count the magnetic medium, or the underlying material as well? What about the space between platters or the read/write mechanism? I could have great storage density, but it wouldn't do me much good if I needed an entire scanning tunneling microscoope to read it.

Yeah, thanks (3, Insightful)

d12v10 (1046686) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745410)

You know what I hate? Articles that show the scale of whatever they're talking about in obscure ways, like "size of a red blood cell" or "as long as eighteen schoolbuses lined end to end". Next time, just tell us the actual size and we can make that approximation ourselves!

d12

Re:Yeah, thanks (4, Funny)

Wooloomooloo (902011) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745558)

Yeah, comparing the size of things to lined up schoolbuses is pointless unless you specify whether they're european or african schoolbuses...

*stings on drums*

Re:Yeah, thanks (2, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745894)

Yeah, I wish they would have said something like: "...developed the 160-kilobit memory cell say it has a bit density of 100 gigabits per square centimeter"

Give us furlongs. (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746540)

chains, slugs, inches of mercury... at least these are defined units

Hard drive application (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17745426)

With 100 Gigabits per square cm, that means that a standard 3.5" platter would hold about 25 Tb of data, or about 3.1 terabytes of data.

Not as impressive with the new 1 TB drives coming out now.

Re:Hard drive application (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17745590)

Yes, but how many platters are in a TB hard drive?

Re:Hard drive application (2, Interesting)

Firehed (942385) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746188)

3.1TB per platter, times probably four or five platters. You're looking at 12.4TB - most impressively, you "lose" more than a full terabyte due to the stupid *B/*iB capacity notation (down to 11.2TiB).

Still fairly impressive if you ask me. But, more importantly, memory circuit says "flash" to me (I can't be bothered to read TFA). That'll make for a very large stick, or a massive internal flash drive - the latter really appeals to me, as seek time can be a real killer and flash effectively doesn't have one.

How does this compare to DNA bit density? (3, Informative)

maynard (3337) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745440)

Rough comparison here. [madsci.org] Short answer: DNA is far more dense information storage than this technology. Never mind that human white blood cells also contain the machinery to both compute and replicate data stored within DNA (as well as replicating the computation machinery).

Biology still wins. But nanotechnology creeps ever closer year by year...

Re:How does this compare to DNA bit density? (0, Troll)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745602)

White blood cells are formed within the bones from stem cells. They do not replicate DNA.

Re:How does this compare to DNA bit density? (2, Informative)

maynard (3337) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745724)

This is generally true. Good counterpoint. However, there are some types of white blood cells that do replicate. IIRC (and please correct me if I'm wrong), when a T4 cell matches the protein key of an infection agent, it will notify the nearest white blood cell of the same protein type. This will signal that white blood cell to replicate, which then mounts an attack against the infection.

This is an overly simplistic explanation, I'm sure.

Re:How does this compare to DNA bit density? (1)

dEnY_cOnFoRmItY (641344) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745824)

actually they do when they get exposed to the right antigen/co-stimulatory molecules, they become activated then among other processes they clone themselves, this is true for both t-lymphocytes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T_cell#T_cell_activat ion [wikipedia.org] and b-lymphocytes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B_cell#Activation_of_ B_cells [wikipedia.org]

Re:How does this compare to DNA bit density? (0, Troll)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745876)

From TFA: (first line) "All T cells originate from hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow."

Re:How does this compare to DNA bit density? (0, Offtopic)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745904)

and then "Helper T cells, (Th cells) are the "middlemen" of the adaptive immune system. Once activated, they divide rapidly and secrete small proteins called cytokines that regulate or "help" the immune response."

death by TFA!

Re:How does this compare to DNA bit density? (0, Troll)

phoenixwade (997892) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745728)

1. Find hooker
2. Rent hooker
3. Make Lots of White blood cells
4. Profit!!

pathetic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17745806)

not funny

please be to try these search terms: OOG_THE_CAVEMAN; hot grits; Natalie Portman; *BSD is dying

Says nothing about the size of support circuitry (4, Funny)

Cracked Pottery (947450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745468)

However, 32 of them should be enough for anybody.

PART-TIME JOB OFFER (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17745486)

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Which words? (4, Interesting)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745514)

[...] capable of storing around 2,000 words [...]
Which words? "Antidisestablishmentarianism" or "It"? What about languages where words take up one character like Chinese and Japanese?

Re:Which words? (5, Insightful)

Nyago (784496) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745586)

I assumed a word in the data storage sense. n bits to a word. Then I thought "wait a minute, which architecture?".

Re:Which words? (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746410)

It's like they went out of their way to pick the most vague word possible.

Re:Which words? (3, Funny)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746602)

n bits to a word. Then I thought "wait a minute, which architecture?".

Since they're red blood cells, which are essential to life, to the universe, and everything, I would say it's going to 42 bits to a word. :P

Re:Which words? (1)

isny (681711) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745636)

English also has a few words that take up one character.

Re:Which words? (1)

toejam316 (1000986) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745692)

Wouldn't you assume they'd use the same standard as the adverage touch typing test where 4 characters including spaces etc. = 1 word?

Not in what little Japanese I know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17745712)

> What about languages where words take up one character like Chinese and Japanese?

While you raise a good point, you have to remember that kanji would have to be multi-byte characters, anyhow (there's waaaaaaaaaay more than 256 of them, trust me on this).

Also, although I'm only familiar with Chinese via my studies of Japanese, Japanese words rarely take up just one character (at least in the simplistic texts I read--I hold open the possibility that a higher percentage of kanji can be used if they ignore the Ministry of Education guidelines and use every available kanji or something). In Japanese, they have two different syllabaries (one for words of Japanese origin called hiragana, and another for foreign words, sound effects and probably other misc. things called katakana) which supplement the kanji they imported from China. They still need the kanji, BTW, because there are too many homophones (words that would be spelled the same and which mean completely different things), so they use the different kanji to make distinctions, although they do, for example, use kanji for a verb with hiragana to conjugate it. Very few words seem to be just one syllable.

Granted, that's now a whole different tangent than what you were saying, but I do agree with your premise that it would be a LOT more useful if they'd just tell us the actual capacity of the damn thing instead of giving us useless metaphors :-)

Re:Not in what little Japanese I know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17746286)

I do agree that Kanji takes up many bits per character, but congee is FAR more tasteful in general use. Especially if nouc mam is involved.

Re:Which words? (1)

merreborn (853723) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745744)

When discussing computer memory, a "Word" is usually either 16, 32, or 64 bits. For the intel x86 architecture, a "word" is 16 bits. So in ASCII, "it" (being two ASCII bytes) fits in a "word". The ascii representation of the word "string" would require 3 "words". (neglecting a null character for string termination)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_(computing) [wikipedia.org]

Re:Which words? (2, Informative)

spoop (952477) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745774)

A word is 16 bits or so I think.

Re:Which words? (2, Informative)

springbox (853816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745984)

In the x86 world it is.. A word can be the width of the bus on other architectures.

Re:Which words? (1)

spootle (1033314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746240)

african or european bus?

Re:Which words? (1)

Kopretinka (97408) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746388)

youngster!

Re:Which words? (1)

biscon (942763) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745856)

Your geekbadge have been revoked (as well as the people who modded you insightful)

RTFS! (1)

KNicolson (147698) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745980)

developed the 160-kilobit memory cell

Therefore, 160 kb divided by 2000 English words, and assuming that we encode them in a 6-bit encoding, gives us over 13 letters per word, or call it 12 when allowing for punctuation.

Alternatively, assuming ASCII encoding, that still gives us exactly 10 characters per word, or call it 9 when allowing for punctuation.

Wikipedia claims that the average English word length is 5 plus one punctuation character [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Which words? (1)

settrans (902777) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746146)

Heh. I automatically assumed it meant 2 bytes by word.

Re:Which words? (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746200)

Isn't it 16bit values?

Actually now I have a look at the Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] topic I fear I'm opening a can of worms.

Re:Which words? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17746490)

Add something like UTF-16 into the mix to really make your head hurt.

Re:Which words? (1)

afterhoursdjs.org (1055120) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746506)

I assume we can compare this to WPM typing speed. IIRC, The average English word is 7 characters including the space when typed. I haven't read through the thread yet, perhaps someone has clarified.

Come now. (1)

mcrh (1050542) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745672)

I think you'll find that I'm much denser than this.

How do you unveil something this small? (1)

solafide (845228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745796)

Eh? Isn't it already veiled by virtue of its size, and if it has another veil which is removed (thus the unveiling) it's still kinda difficult to see...

"Most dense"? (2, Insightful)

hjo3 (890059) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745812)

Why not just say "densest"?

Re:"Most dense"? (1)

da_flo (1029770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745946)

Maybe they're dense about grammar.

Re:"Most dense"? (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746000)

The correct term is "most densified".

Re:"Most dense"? (2, Funny)

Iamthefallen (523816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746010)

Because "most dense" is more gooder grammar.

Re:"Most dense"? (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746284)

Why not just say "densest"? Because you could say "having highest densiness" instead.

Very few details (5, Insightful)

SmlFreshwaterBuffalo (608664) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745832)

The article is very lacking in detail.
  • Is this volatile or non-volatile memory?
  • What size word are they using?
  • If non-volatile, what kind of endurance can be expected? What about data retention? It doesn't matter how small the memory is if the data only lasts 5 minutes. (Yes, I'm sure there would be applications even for that, but you get the point.)
  • What are the write and read times?
  • If volatile, does the data need to be refreshed continuously, or will it hold its value as long as power is applied?
  • How much power is required for different operation?
Okay, so maybe I was expecting too much. But they could've at least given some of the most basic details, like word size (damned marketing dept!).

Re:Very few details (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745886)

Well they also say it stores 160kb, aka 20kB, so presumably by 2000 words they mean words of ten characters (or nine plus spaces) encoded in ASCII. Doesn't really matter, the 160kb is the important bit.

Re:Very few details (3, Informative)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746210)

This one [physorg.com] is a bit better, but apparently the Nature article will be released tomorrow, which I assume would have the sort of detail you're asking for.

Yahoo! I can multiply! (2, Informative)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745932)

The Yahoo! News article got the figures wrong. To get only 2,000 words (a computer term, not a linguistic one) out of 160-kbits they'd have to be 80-bit words. The article at Technology Review [technologyreview.com] has better maths and more information to boot.

tracking nuclei as memory (1)

planckscale (579258) | more than 7 years ago | (#17745994)

Say you have a sliver of very thin metal disk just several atoms thick that spins. At a reoccurring predetermined time, a photon or particle gun shoots energy at the disk at a very specific location and say every 1 ms rpm, it misses an atom and hits a detector. However, if on the last pass, it's time is changed by .5ms and at 9.5ms that energy is obstructed and doesn't hit the detector. If this continues could you reasonably determine that the photon has been obstructed by a nucleus? Then once you've mapped all the locations (times) of all the nuclei in the metal, you take another disk and spin it underneath it and map the locations of it's nuclei. Then maybe a third disk. Couldn't you build a kind of memory gate just by determining the location of nuclei, and the timing of those photons that reach the detector? Then you wouldn't have to build nanoscale structures, or magnetic pits at all, you just use the existing atomic structure of the material itself?

Re:tracking nuclei as memory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17746360)

Unfortunaltely, photons ``bounce off'' the ``electron cloud'', they don't see the nucleus, not even with powerful lasers. But the more important question is even if it were to work, how would one write to such a memory?

Re:tracking nuclei as memory (1)

pHpDude (1055450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746494)

Sure. No, wait... sure.

Something doesn't add up... (1)

oskard (715652) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746040)

... who developed the 160-kilobit memory cell ...
So 160,000 bits = 2,000 words.

160000 / 2000 = 80

One word = 80 bits?

I've never heard of an 80-bit word architecture.

Unless of course they're speaking of an MS Word architecture, in which case even the byte count would be bloated :P

Re:Something doesn't add up... (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746256)

I've never heard of an 80-bit word architecture.

Are you sure they don't mean '80 / 8 = 10' - an estimate for average English word length? Pretty hight though, I think it's usually about 6 (counting the space, even).

Obl. football field? (1)

Roadmaster (96317) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746094)

capable of storing around 2,000 words in a unit the size of a white blood cell,
Yeah so.. how many words in a unit the size of a football field? remember that's the only area measuring unit we understand!!

Re:Obl. football field? (1)

1310nm (687270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746144)

And for a control, how many words during a football game between AIDS-infected monkeys?

Research abstract (4, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746138)

The piece on Yahoo! News was pretty low on details, so here's the abstract from the Nature paper:

A 160-kilobit molecular electronic memory patterned at 1011 bits per square centimetre [nature.com]

Jonathan E. Green1,4, Jang Wook Choi1,4, Akram Boukai1, Yuri Bunimovich1, Ezekiel Johnston-Halperin1,3, Erica DeIonno1, Yi Luo1,3, Bonnie A. Sheriff1, Ke Xu1, Young Shik Shin1, Hsian-Rong Tseng2,3, J. Fraser Stoddart2 and James R. Heath1

The primary metric for gauging progress in the various semiconductor integrated circuit technologies is the spacing, or pitch, between the most closely spaced wires within a dynamic random access memory (DRAM) circuit1. Modern DRAM circuits have 140 nm pitch wires and a memory cell size of 0.0408 mum2. Improving integrated circuit technology will require that these dimensions decrease over time. However, at present a large fraction of the patterning and materials requirements that we expect to need for the construction of new integrated circuit technologies in 2013 have 'no known solution'1. Promising ingredients for advances in integrated circuit technology are nanowires2, molecular electronics3 and defect-tolerant architectures4, as demonstrated by reports of single devices5, 6, 7 and small circuits8, 9. Methods of extending these approaches to large-scale, high-density circuitry are largely undeveloped. Here we describe a 160,000-bit molecular electronic memory circuit, fabricated at a density of 1011 bits cm-2 (pitch 33 nm; memory cell size 0.0011 mum2), that is, roughly analogous to the dimensions of a DRAM circuit1 projected to be available by 2020. A monolayer of bistable, [2]rotaxane molecules10 served as the data storage elements. Although the circuit has large numbers of defects, those defects could be readily identified through electronic testing and isolated using software coding. The working bits were then configured to form a fully functional random access memory circuit for storing and retrieving information.


Also, an interesting bit from the very end of the paper:

Many scientific and engineering challenges, such as device robustness, improved etching tools and improved switching speed, remain to be addressed before the type of crossbar memory described here can be practical. Nevertheless, this 160,000-bit molecular memory does indicate that at least some of the most challenging scientific issues associated with integrating nanowires, molecular materials, and defect-tolerant circuit architectures at extreme dimensions are solvable. Although it is unlikely that these digital circuits will scale to a density that is only limited by the size of the molecular switches, it should be possible to increase the bit density considerably over what is described here. Recent nano-imprinting results suggest that high-throughput manufacturing of these types of circuits may be possible29. Finally, these results provide a compelling demonstration of many of the nanotechnology concepts that were introduced by the Teramac supercomputer several years ago, albeit using a circuit that contained a significantly higher fraction of defective components than did the Teramac machine4.

so dense that... (1)

nemmo723 (929623) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746376)

light bends around it?

(i just had to post this one.. )

For some reason these analogies do not impress me (1)

Retired Replicant (668463) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746408)

I thought white blood cells were giant honking cells. Aren't they much bigger than the size of the manufacturing process used to fabricate modern computer chips? I would have thought a piece of silicon the size of a white blood cell would be able to store more than 2000 words.

I thought my memory circuits were densest (1)

second class skygod (242575) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746424)

... Umh, what were we talking about again?

LOCs? (1)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17746516)

The cell is capable of storing a file the size of the United States' Declaration of Independence with room left over."
How many Libraries Of Congress per Volkswagon Beetles is that?
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