"IBM announced what appears to be a breakthrough in its
development of "racetrack" memory, which stores data by
manipulating the magnetic state of regions -- magnetic domain walls
-- within nanowires. The "radically new" storage technology could
result in storage devices with the speed and reliability of flash
memory, along with the low cost and storage capacity of magnetic
disk drives, the company says.
"According to IBM, the racetrack memory project started in its
Almaden Research Labs in San Jose only six years ago. Instead of
making computers seek out the data they need, as is the case in
traditional storage systems, it use "spin momentum" to slide data
back and forth along nanowire "racetracks" -- 1,000 times finer
than a human hair -- the company says.
"In a paper published last week in the journal Science, IBM
researchers say they have been able to measure the time and
distance of domain wall acceleration in response to electric
current pulses for the first time. As a result, the company says,
it will be possible to move domain walls at speeds of hundreds of
miles per hour and then stop them precisely at the position needed
-- allowing massive amounts of stored information to be accessed in
less than a billionth of a second."