UK memory breakthrough raises questions

Technologies promise memory, communications and processing improvements - but how?

Scientists at Keele University claim to have developed memory technologies that will dramatically increase computer storage and are promising to deliver a credit card-sized drive capable of holding up to 10.8TB of data. However, examination of documentation provided by the scientists has raised more questions than answers.

The group claims new methods for compressing data, a more efficient means of recording and reading stored information and new materials for coating storage disks. They claim that these could be combined to make credit card-sized drives capable of holding 10.8TB of data, costing just $50 to manufacture and on sale in two years' time.

"This is a very profound development," says Mike Downing, managing director of Cavendish Management Resources, the venture capital company that is backing KHD. "It promises to have an effect on not just the computer industry."

However, in interviews with ZDNet, lead scientist Professor Ted Williams has admitted that the main technical paper covering the technology has errors, and he has been unable to date to substantiate many of its claims. In particular, the compression technology, based on a novel application of standard hard disk encoding techniques, seems to have major flaws that bring its viability into question. ZDNet is continuing to investigate this technology.

The company says that its other main innovations, a hybrid silicon/magneto-optical storage device and special materials for writing to magneto-optical discs, will be significant for DVD and CD-ROM media.

Keele High Density intends to commercialise the memory technologies and has applied for patents in connection with the innovations.

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