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Posted: September 17, 2008
IBM and Taiwan's ITRI Collaborate on Revolutionary Solid-State 'Racetrack Memory'
(Nanowerk News) IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced today that it has entered into a joint development agreement with Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) to further explore "Racetrack Memory," an entirely new approach to solid state memory. Racetrack Memory was conceived by IBM Fellow Dr. Stuart Parkin at IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose, CA.
"Racetrack Memory is an exciting and highly innovative concept that builds upon IBM's significant accomplishments in the research and development of nanomaterials and nanodevices based on the manipulation of spin-polarized electrical current," said Dr. T.C. Chen, IBM Fellow and Vice President, Science & Technology, IBM Research.
In April of this year, IBM announced a milestone in its Racetrack Memory research that could lead to electronic devices capable of storing far more data in the same amount of space than is possible today, with lightning-fast boot times, far lower cost and unprecedented stability and durability. The joint development team, led by Dr. Parkin and ITRI's Vice President Dr. Ian Chan, will study new materials and structures for Racetrack Memory that could lead to a paradigm shift in storage and memory technologies.
"We expect that our exploration of a wide variety of materials and structures will provide new insight into the dynamics of Racetrack Memory, making possible an entirely new class of information storage devices," said Dr. Ian Chan, Vice President of ITRI. "This could change the design of information processing systems."
Racetrack Memory, so named because the data "races" around a nanowire "track," could lead to solid state electronic devices -- with no moving parts, and therefore more durable -- capable of holding far more data in the same amount of space than is possible today. For example, this technology could enable a handheld device such as an mp3 player to store around 500,000 songs or around 3,500 movies -- 100 times more than is possible today -- with far lower cost and power consumption. The devices would not only store vastly more information in the same space, but also require much less power and generate much less heat, and be practically unbreakable; the result: massive amounts of personal storage that could run on a single battery for weeks at a time and last for decades.
Racetrack Memory: A closer look
Racetrack Memory promises a high capacity, non-volatile memory storage device with high performance and low energy consumption. This approach stores data in the form of domain walls -- boundaries between oppositely magnetized regions -- in magnetic nanowires. Many domain walls are stored in each racetrack, enabling very high data density and thereby low cost -- as low as FLASH memory using horizontal racetracks and potentially as low as magnetic disk drives using vertical racetracks. The data within each Racetrack are read and written by shifting them to reading and writing elements. IBM recently demonstrated that short pulses of spin polarized current can be used to controllably move several domain walls back and forth along a racetrack, the key underlying principle of Racetrack Memory. (See Science, April 11, 2008.)