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Data Storage Hardware

Array-Based Memory May Put a Terabyte On a Chip 93

Posted by kdawson
from the need-ramback-now dept.
Lucas123 writes "A new type of flash memory, called array-based memory, could offer a terabyte of data on a single chip within the next decade by bypassing current NAND memory technology, which is limited by the miniaturization capability of lithography. According to the Computerworld story, start-up Nanochip Inc. is being backed by Intel and others, and over 11 years has made research breakthroughs that will enable it to deliver working prototypes to potential manufacturing partners next year. And by 2010, the first chips are expected to reach 100GB capacity."
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Array-Based Memory May Put a Terabyte On a Chip

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  • by clonan (64380) on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:51PM (#22820996)
    We on Slashdot just learned how to use a TB of ram only yesterday!
    • by zappepcs (820751)
      That was theory, so far this is vapor. I'm still waiting for some face time with products like this.

      I sincerely hope that they come up with a couple of really really good high speed data methods for wireless so that in 2012 I'll be able to watch the end of the calendar in HD on my cellular phone... while streaming "2010, the movie to a nearby friend.
      • What does this have to do with wireless, and why would you ever watch a movie on your phone? You're right to be concerned about speeds though; as long as 2GB of DDR3 is wellll sufficient, there's no reason at all to use more expensive, slower nanowhastever memory
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by ryszard99 (1193131)

          and why would you ever watch a movie on your phone?
          long haul flights
          • by peragrin (659227)
            long haul flgihts? killing your phone battery down to 2-3 hours? either use the airlines built in systems which is getting more and more common, or bring a portable dvd player. it will last three times as long with twice the screen.
        • You would make a good CEO of companies like Prime, or Digital. Where you love of the current technology blinds you in the use of new technologies. Why would you want to watch a movie on your phone? Because if you are taking a long trip, or waiting in a long Queue say to get your car fixed, or any other situation where you will not want to carry around a laptop and you are board out of your skull. It would be nice to have a phone to watch a movie while you wait. For example I use my iPhone a lot even thoug
          • by tabrnaker (741668)
            ah, so basically for those sub-humans who can't stand to be alone with their selves for even two seconds.
            • I agree, I mean I haven't really come across any evidence that people like that (on the phone or texting all the time, headphones on as they walk down the block, etc) are worse off in any way, but theres just this knee-jerk disgust reaction that I have to it. Maybe its rude, maybe its the sight of someone who is just constantly consuming, or maybe I'm just old-fashioned (I'm 22). I don't know..discuss.
              • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

                by tabrnaker (741668)
                Even caterpillars have to voraciously consume large quantities of resources. At a certain saturation point, when they have all the necessary resources, they mature into a beauty of nature.

                It's just harder to tell where individual humans are on the evolutionary scale.

                God(Truth/Beauty) is present at every level, in the most palatable form for that level.

                Unfortunately, a lot of humans never distill enough truths from their consumption to evolve to the next level (True happiness :) ).

                • True happiness is a carrot people dangle in front of themselves, the game doesn't work that way (you're meant to pass on genes, not be happy). If its anything at all it would be a state of mind, probably transitive at that.
                  • by tabrnaker (741668)
                    You cannot see what you do not understand.

                    I'm truly happy. :)

                    Maybe one day, you will get there as well. You see, i speak from experience, you speak with the authority of other peoples thoughts

                    The false promise of happiness is the carrot that leads you astray. Being happy is the realization that there is nothing to reach for, you already have the carrot.

                    People seem to think that knowing a word means that they understand the movement that underlies the word. This is the problem with our society. Do you

              • It's one thing if it's someone who's actually doing something, like a businessman tapping on his smart phone making appointments or whatever.. but I completely agree with you, I can't stand teens who never stop texting. At least it's better than talking- talking in theaters and during speeches.. holy crap those people make me so mad, they can't keep quiet for one little hour. So I think it's for the best that all those idiots are venting into their cell phone keypads.
          • why would you wait in a queue? You'd think in the future standing around waiting doesn't make sense when everyone on the planet has a powerful wireless device in their pocket. Plus movies just aren't all that good and they will only get worse.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by thrillseeker (518224)
          why would you ever watch a movie on your phone

          I think there is a world market for maybe five people to watch movies on a phone.

          (with apologies to Thomas Watson)
    • yeah but the Ram you mean was a Dodge Truck. Or do you mean you finally broke down the gates in Minas Tirith??
    • by Korbinus (589005)
      That's what I call a good marketing campaign. And we are the lucky ones that will know everything before everybody.
  • by Zymergy (803632) * on Friday March 21, 2008 @12:55PM (#22821054)
    USB 3.0 or *something faster* will be required for devices this large in portable storage capacity.. USB 2.0 is ~480Mbps (theoretical max) and it would take forever to transfer a terabyte over USB 2.0.
    http://www.usb.org/usb30 [usb.org]
    http://www.eetimes.com/news/latest/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=201807389 [eetimes.com]
    • by geekoid (135745)
      well yeah.

      OTOH, most people only transfer small amount of data at a time, say a few paltry gigs at most.
    • Think of the possibilities for SSD's though
    • by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Friday March 21, 2008 @01:02PM (#22821174) Homepage Journal
      I don't think it is a real issue. How often are you going to be moving a completely different 1TB onto the drive? Right now, especially here on Slashdot, handfuls of us already have 1TB NAS enclosures. They run over USB 2.0 just fine, if only because we don't fill the thing up and/or empty it at every usage... it is a gradual add/delete, just like any other general storage device ever used.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by QuantumRiff (120817)
        Not to be picky, but NAS is "Network Attached Storage" You have an external hard drive.
      • People delete stuff? Not where I work. I think most of the people I support would rather give up their first born than delete some piece of 4 year old spam that they never even opened.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Digi-John (692918)
          My data never goes away... I use Venti [bell-labs.com] at work. Unlike Timemachine, it uses an intelligent backup scheme, coalescing blocks so a block of data will only ever be written once. That means that every time you save more mail, your 2GB mail file doesn't get completely replicated on Venti, just the new data.
          • by LWATCDR (28044)
            Okay any hope that this will make it out as FOSS? Just wondering it looks great.
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Digi-John (692918)
              It is already free/open source, under the Lucent Public License (assuming you can bring yourself to run non-GPL code, I know it's hard for some people here). Plan 9 Port [swtch.com] will allow you to run Venti on Linux, but ideally you just download Plan 9 [bell-labs.com] and install it on your file server; you can then use v9fs [swik.net] to access Plan 9's fileservers.
              I do my work natively under Plan 9, so I don't have much experience using Venti and Linux.
              • by LWATCDR (28044)
                "It is already free/open source, under the Lucent Public License (assuming you can bring yourself to run non-GPL code, I know it's hard for some people here)."
                Not really for me. I would prefer that it was GPL because then it might be possible to port it to Linux and create a great home backup system. I am License neutral. I thank any programmer or group that releases code for free so I can learn from and maybe even contribute to. I am grateful for Free as in beer software that makes my life easier or better
                • by Digi-John (692918)
                  Let me clarify something, very slowly and clearly so everyone can understand: You. Can. Port. This. To. Linux. In fact, it has already been ported to Linux. If you would CTFL (Click The Fine Link) about Plan 9 Ports, you'd see that, wonder of wonders, you can run Venti on Linux. It's free software. It's free as in beer. Download it, install it, modify it, whatever you want. The GPL is not the only free license out there.
                  Honestly, though, if you really want the best experience with Venti I suggest installin
                  • by LWATCDR (28044)
                    Thanks. I didn't see that. As I said I am not a GPL snob or even really a FOSS zelot. I will have to take a look at it. If Ubuntu could add it to there how server project it might really put the hurt on WHS.
                    That is if it has the one killer feature that WHS lacks. Data integrity.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        yeah, USB 2.0 should be fine for now. How frequently do you need to revamp your whole 1.5TB porn collection? I for instance have a nostalgic feeling for my old porn. :D
      • by KillerBob (217953)
        Indeed... I've got a 1TB external drive. The initial population was a pain in the butt... took about 6h to copy all my data over through IEEE 1394a. But once the data was on the drive, it's plenty fast enough. I use it for storing MP3s and DivX videos on my HTPC.
      • You say this as I am transferring all my data from one PC to back up on my 1TB external HDD. Granted, it isn't full, but full enough that its taking forever. Having the option to move the data faster would be nice. Also, who's to say our files we move in a decade won't commonly reach several GB in size, making simple moves take an extraordinary amount of time to transfer just one or two files.
      • How often are you going to be moving a completely different 1TB onto the drive?


        Whenever you do a backup. At least, whenever you do a full backup. (You can do incremental backups, but it's best to do a full one every now and then.)

      • by billcopc (196330)
        1TB ?

        What is this, 2002 ? :P

        Everyone with more than 1TB of online storage in their home, raise of hands! /raises, 4.0TB at my desk
    • For a portable device, the real question is how many car batteries it will take to keep it live.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sylver Dragon (445237)
      I'm thinking eSATA may fill the gap, though it does have the drawback of not powering the device directly. Of course, there is an easy solution to that: have a device which runs on 5VDC at less than 5mw. Connect the data port to eSATA and the power port to the USB port, and you're done.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ThisNukes4u (752508) *

        I'm thinking eSATA may fill the gap, though it does have the drawback of not powering the device directly. Of course, there is an easy solution to that: have a device which runs on 5VDC at less than 5mw. Connect the data port to eSATA and the power port to the USB port, and you're done.
        I think you mean less than 500mw(the limit a single USB port can supply), not 5mw. Most 2.5" laptop harddrives meet this requirement, not sure about other types.
    • by merreborn (853723) on Friday March 21, 2008 @01:18PM (#22821366) Journal

      USB 3.0 or *something faster* will be required for devices this large in portable storage capacity
      10GigE [wikipedia.org] is faster than USB3, and on the market right now.

      Problem solved.
      • by Zymergy (803632) *
        Yes! This is what I am talking about.
        It appears that the 10GBASE-CX4 802.3ak would be the best choice of the 10GigE options, but the hardware for either end of the UTP cables is a bit steep for any affordable SOHO device.
        I sometimes back up entire PC's using a *nix boot disk to external storage. Anything that transfers all the drive(s) data much faster would reduce the need to open the box to plug in an IDE or SATA cable to my backup drive(s). The fact that inexpensive commodity Gigabit Ethernet device
        • by Agripa (139780)
          eSATA combined with port multiplication looks promising for external hard drive cabinets but what would preclude using link aggregation to combine multiple gigabit ethernet ports?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Or use a real protocol like Firewire. I can't imagine how much CPU USB 3.0 is going to eat up.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TeknoHog (164938)

      USB 3.0 or *something faster* will be required for devices this large in portable storage capacity.. USB 2.0 is ~480Mbps (theoretical max) and it would take forever to transfer a terabyte over USB 2.0.

      Firewire 400 is already faster than USB 2.0 in practical use. It was designed for heavy media/disk usage from the beginning, unlike USB that was meant to replace the old serial/parallel ports for slow peripherals. For one thing, USB only has a single-pair data cable that carries either incoming or outgoing data at one time, while FW has dedicated pairs for both directions (like twisted-pair Ethernet). I haven't found USB's CPU usage a problem in practice, but nevertheless it feels much slower. For exampl

      • by dfghjk (711126)
        Firewire was not "designed for heavy media/disk usage from the beginning", it was not designed for that use at all in the beginning. Disk attachment doesn't need isochronous transfers or peer to peer protocols. It's more accurate to say that firewire outperforms USB2 for disk attachment DESPITE not being designed for that use in the beginning.

        Firewire is an abomination. So is USB. They're both advances over what came before them though. The real tragedy is that SSA, a technology vastly superior to eith
        • by TeknoHog (164938)

          Firewire was not "designed for heavy media/disk usage from the beginning", it was not designed for that use at all in the beginning. Disk attachment doesn't need isochronous transfers or peer to peer protocols. [...] The real tragedy is that SSA, a technology vastly superior to either of them, lost out. At least we have SATA now.

          Firewire and USB are designed and used for many applications besides disk drives. Isochronous transfers and p2p networking are needed with DV, for example.

      • That's just for Firewire 400, and we already have faster versions. I find it really unfortunate that USB is being pushed so much while FW is in decline. The USB 3.0 with its fiberoptic links looks like a particularly desperate move to extend the standard, not the least when you consider the fragility of fiberoptics in the hands of end users.

        the problem with firewire can be blamed 100% on apple, when it came out rather than embracing pc firewire, it fought for years to try to keep it out of the hands of pc users- as a result you have the obcurely serial named firewire port on pc's that took years to be added to mainboard support and during those yearss people were already replacing their serial connections with usb, so they were used to just plugging something into a usb port.

    • by aminorex (141494)
      > it would take forever

      Is that metric forever, or English?
    • USB 3.0 or *something faster* will be required for devices this large in portable storage capacity..

      It is not that bad- 500 gigs takes about 8-12 hours (depending on # of files, large files are at full speed based on the single handshake that the data has to do wheras if there are 1000 files taking the same space as that 1 it takes a whole lot longer)- I do this all of the time as I take in terabytes of raw data for cases all of the time and have to copy the data to our local network for us to process in my job for litigation where we are bound not to crack the cases on factory sealed drives- our averag

  • So what we have here are tiny little nano-bots writing onto a chalcogenide-based material.
  • I find it very difficult to imagine how much data is 1 TB. Can some one tell me how many libraries of congresses 1 TB is?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jason Levine (196982)
      0.1 Library of Congresses according to this website:

      http://www.jamesshuggins.com/h/tek1/how_big.htm [jamesshuggins.com]

      10 Terabytes: Printed collection of the U. S. Library of Congress
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sylver Dragon (445237)
      1 TB = a small corner of my SAN.
      Personally, I love the idea of small, high capacity, solid state drives. The systems I admin are used for GIS research, and I dread what may happen anytime one of the researches takes a laptop into the field for data collection. So far, the worst which has happened was that one laptop went for a swim, which might have been ok except the salinity of the water was very high.
      Ok, so a solid state drive may not have helped too much in that case, but for the occasional drop, ba
  • I'd easily imagine this showing up inside CPU's firs tho
  • 50 Gigs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zippthorne (748122) on Friday March 21, 2008 @01:14PM (#22821326) Journal
    We only need 50 GB, and in a form factor about a third of a deck of cards, and cheaper than a BRD. And it doesn't even have to be rewritable. Then, the tyranny of spinning disk media will finally be temporarily ameliorated, by USB high definition video players.

    Imagine: not having to worry about your media obsoleting because the interface is so cheap and useful that it is guaranteed to be on every computing device long after it has been surpassed by superior buses.

    Imagine a robust format that doesn't skip or scratch, even if you keep it in your pocket with your keys.

    Imagine a built-in crypto chip ensuring strong DRM by essencially creating an encrypted ssh tunnel straight to your video display device, using a different key every time for the actual data.

    (ok, the last one's maybe not so great, but there's no reason why anything with a usb connect can't have the crypto built in, so you'd still have your portability. If there's still a problem, then it's better to enforce the rules as perfectly as possible. People don't usually object to rules that don't affect them, witness the capricious speed laws for your example there)
    • Re:50 Gigs (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Original Replica (908688) on Friday March 21, 2008 @01:54PM (#22821812) Journal
      If there's still a problem, then it's better to enforce the rules as perfectly as possible.

      According to the series of tubes "The best way to repeal a bad law is to enforce it." was first said by Lincoln, Grant, and several other old dead guys. It might hold true for criminal laws which regulate behaviors, it doesn't work so well for thing that regulate the flow of money. Mostly because the laws which regulate the flow of money, make it flow into the pockets of the powerful. Secondly they people who are in a position to make the needed changes aren't actually effected by something like a $25 CD, because they have two or three orders of magnitude more disposable income than the rest of the society. The richest 10% own 89% of the stock. [marketresearch.com] In a corporate world where everything is beholden to the shareholder, those 10% are the only ones who really count. That same 10% isn't effected by overpriced CDs or overpriced gas or overpriced pharmaceuticals, because they have plenty of cash to cover it without it effecting their quality of life.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bob-taro (996889)

        In a corporate world where everything is beholden to the shareholder, those 10% are the only ones who really count. That same 10% isn't effected by overpriced CDs or overpriced gas or overpriced pharmaceuticals, because they have plenty of cash to cover it without it effecting their quality of life.

        That's an interesting statistic about stock ownership. But I wouldn't be so sure they don't feel the effect of rising prices -- especially gas prices. The top 10% starts at about $100K. I know several people with incomes over 100K and trust me, ANYONE can live at or beyond their means. Plus, wealthier people probably USE more gas in their big cars and trucks. Why, even Rush Limbaugh once complained that he had to ask his pilot to fly his private jet slower because of the rising cost of jet fuel.

        Okay

    • 50GB should be more than enough for anyone!
  • Access times, seeks, etc ?
  • by hcdejong (561314) <(ln.tensmx) (ta) (sebboh)> on Friday March 21, 2008 @01:26PM (#22821486)
    These chips use moving parts. TFA mentions concerns over the longevity of the read/write element, but I'd expect the rest of the system to be more vulnerable than solid-state memory as well. With thousands of read/write probes working in parallel, there are lots of points of failure. Also, a mechanical system would have to be pretty incredible to beat the access times offered by current memory.
    • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Friday March 21, 2008 @01:59PM (#22821884)
      This technology is essentially what is used in atomic force microscopes [wikipedia.org], and was being investigated by IBM for data storage under the name "Millipede [ibm.com]". It basically involves a huge array of cantilevers that have very sharp tips on them (typical tip size is 20 nm but smaller is possible). The tips are used to read and write dots on the surface.

      So yes, this system has moving parts. The tips have to scan across the surface, and the cantilevers are basically springs that bend up and down as the tips move over the surface. This definitely has some wear issues to consider, but it's nothing like the large-scale and high-speed movements of a hard drive (where a >2" disk is rotating at >7,000 rpm). Instead, the tips are moving laterally by micrometers at most (the huge array is what allows a large surface to be probed), and the cantilevers are springing up-and-down by only nanometers. The movement in an AFM is controlled using piezoelectric [wikipedia.org] deformation of quartz actuators. This small-scale movement is very robust and reproducible. Quartz oscillators can vibrate/move thousands of times a second continuously for years without much problem (think of oscillators used for clocks, etc.). Moreover this technology has been used in commercial AFMs for years, so it's well-understood.

      The thousands of tips are probably all actuated together by a single piezo-motor. They move in unison which would actually allow for high-speed reading/writing (since thousands of bits are read/written at once). You're right that each tip is in principle a point of failure. However, with the right error-correction algorithm, the device could be built so that even if a few tips break, no data is lost.

      I agree that the access time isn't going to be as fast as modern RAM, but it could very well be faster than modern hard-drives. I think this is intended as permanent storage, not volatile memory.
      • by imsabbel (611519)
        You forget the bigger problem convering wear and tear: The substrate those pins write bits onto.
        In nanoscale, material fatique and stuff is pretty much nonexistent, but i would be interested in seeing a millipede system that can even reach MLC-Flash levels of write cycles...
      • The tips are used to read and write dots on the surface.

        So, basically, it is a punch card !?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dpilot (134227)
      Sounds similar to a DLP TV, to me. On those things, the mirrors are flexing up to 60 times each second, the whole time the TV is on. I remember reading something about the wear issue, and they found that if they constrain the flexing (less than 17 degrees, IIRC) that wear was not an issue. Apparently wear rises rapidly with the degree of the flex.
      • Point well taken. However, DLP mirrors oscillated at frequencies much higher than the frame rate in order to produce gradation in the colors. If they only oscillated at the frame rate, you would only get black or white for each frame. From here [dlp.com]...

        The bit-streamed image code entering the semiconductor directs each mirror to switch on and off up to several thousand times per second. When a mirror is switched on more frequently than off, it reflects a light gray pixel; a mirror that's switched off more fr
        • by dpilot (134227)
          OK, so you've just taken the flexing I've described, and made it much, much worse. Still, my point was that there's a fairly large body of knowledge about flexing small on-chip structures, in DLP TVs.
  • I read the title as 'Army-Based Memory May Put a Terabyte on a Chip'.

    I guess you need a lot of porn to keep you entertained on a long tour.
  • I thought that Bill said 640 kilobytes should be enough for anybody.
    • by gwern (1017754)
      That meme needs to die. Now. We are well past the stage where anyone seriously thought that we could one day have more storage space than we could use up, which was the only justification for citing a spurious quote in the first place.
      • by Amazetbm (1087099)

        That meme needs to die. Now. We are well past the stage where anyone seriously thought that we could one day have more storage space than we could use up, which was the only justification for citing a spurious quote in the first place.
        Thanks for sharing. Come back when you get a sense of humor.
  • Ok, so the AFM based probes which write the data are a well researched technology. However, I am quite curious about the material which is used to store the data. So these probes indent a material to write a bit. Then if you want to erase the bit you have to do something magical.... Don't understand how you could do this, although I suppose you could use the shape memory alloys or so. Interesting if this would work on a nanoscale..... Other than this exotic material to store the data, everything else is

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