IBM manufactures prototype chip for faster data transfer

Big Blue unveils memory chip technology which can store information as magnetic patterns on tiny wires, giving faster data access speeds than hard drives, flash disks, according to report.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

IBM scientists have revealed details of a new memory chip technology which promises faster data access speeds than hard drives or flash drives.

According to a BBC report, the Racetrack system can store information as magnetic patterns on tiny wires. Big Blue added that the technology promises faster data access speeds than that of hard drives or flash disks.

"The breakthrough can lead to a new type of data-centric computing that allows massive amounts of stored information to be accessed in less than a billionth of a second," Big Blue said in a statement.

The team, based in New York, California and Taiwan had been working on the process since 2008, noted the BCC report. It added that the prototype chip has 256 Racetrack cells and each cell contains a single magnetic nanowire, 60-240 nanometres wide and 15-20 nanometres thick. Electric pulses are applied to the wires creating "domain walls" with "regions" in between them, and these regions pass over a magnetic read/write head which faces them in one direction or another, representing the 0s and 1s of computer data.

The small magnetic region can be "raced" at speed along the wires, hence, its name.

IBM scientists added that the circuitry was created with the company's standard microchip-making technologies and that it had the potential to replace existing memory storage techniques.

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