Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Data Storage Technology

"Magnetic Tornadoes" Could Offer New Data Storage Tech 109

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the where-your-data-stops-no-one-knows dept.
coondoggie writes to tell us about the latest technique researchers are investigating as a possible means to store data, magnetic tornadoes. "Conventional computer memories store data in "bits" that consist of two magnetic elements that record data in binary form. When these elements are magnetized in the same direction, the computer reads the bit as a '0'; when magnetized in opposite directions, the bit represents a '1,' researchers stated. According to scientists, a vortex forms spontaneously — one vortex per disk — in a small magnetic disk when the disk's diameter falls below a certain limit. Although the vortex does not whirl about like a meteorological tornado, the atoms in the material do orient themselves so that their magnetic states, or 'moments,' point either clockwise or counterclockwise around the disk's surface. At the center of the disk, the density of this rotation causes the polarity of the vortex core to point either up out of the disk or down like a tornado's funnel, researchers stated. Because the vortices that form on the disks contain two independently controllable and accessible magnetic parameters, they could form the basis for quaternary bits that would contain data written as a 0, 1, 2, or 3."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

"Magnetic Tornadoes" Could Offer New Data Storage Tech

Comments Filter:
  • LHC (Score:5, Funny)

    by tritonman (998572) on Monday February 02, 2009 @03:48PM (#26698327)
    How do we know these magnetic tornadoes won't grow and destroy our trailer parks?????
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      We don't. However, we do advertise this as a potential side-effect to increase our funding.

    • by PitaBred (632671)
      I wonder if a magnetic tornado would cause pandelerium [urbandictionary.com], and in that case, who would have your casserole dish?
    • you just use one of the magnetic mirrors (slashdot a few days ago) that creates a monopole field. The tornadoes will be repelled by the induced image monopoles.

    • And what if we scare robots into killing all the humans? Doesn't anyone remember how scared Bender was when he saw a 2 amidst all those 0s and 1s in that nightmare?

  • Logic just became _extra_ fuzzy.

    • by tenco (773732)
      Binary logic isn't logic but a subset.
    • by Shikaku (1129753)

      The binary would be the same. Instead you have 2 "dots" to make a byte instead of 8 "dots".

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Chris Daniel (807289)

        That would be four quaternary bits to make a byte, I believe.

        2^8 = 256 possible values (binary; 8 places, 2 possible values each)
        4^4 = 256 possible values (quaternary; 4 places, 4 possible values each)

  • When will they take over the world? I have to prepare my disembodied head.

  • by neo (4625) on Monday February 02, 2009 @03:51PM (#26698383)

    I suppose you'll get some kind of increase in data storage this way, but wont read/write times be longer because you'll need to deal with translations between quaternary and binary?

    • by Yetihehe (971185) on Monday February 02, 2009 @03:59PM (#26698503)
      No, you can read it like two bits at once. Those bits would be actually separate channels for separate binary physical states, not one quaternary state.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by thedonger (1317951)
      Data storage increase is the first thought I had. But if solid state drives win the drive war, at least at the consumer level, it may be irrelevant. It's not like your WD Caviar will magically harness the power of quarternarian tornadoes and jump from 100GB to [something] TB. Or more. I think it may require more than just a firmware update.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gat0r30y (957941)

      but wont read/write times be longer because you'll need to deal with translations between quaternary and binary?

      No, in fact an advancement such as this would halve the read/write times since twice as much information is read/write in each operation.

    • This sounds a lot like magnetic bubble memory [wikipedia.org] that intel, fujitsu, IMB and TI made in the 1980s.

      That too had multiple states per "bubble". However the higher-order bubbles were generally not used. The reason was, it was hard enough keeping the single bit (zeroth order mode) bubbles stable at high circulation and high density.

      Since here the domains are fixed and the disk moves it might be easier to use higher order magnetic domain modes.

      • by GameGod0 (680382) on Monday February 02, 2009 @04:55PM (#26699389)

        This sounds a lot like magnetic bubble memory [wikipedia.org] that intel, fujitsu, IMB and TI made in the 1980s.

        That too had multiple states per "bubble". However the higher-order bubbles were generally not used. The reason was, it was hard enough keeping the single bit (zeroth order mode) bubbles stable at high circulation and high density.

        Since here the domains are fixed and the disk moves it might be easier to use higher order magnetic domain modes.

        Magnetic vortices are significantly smaller than the bubbles in bubble memory. Because of this, there are no "higher order" states - you have 4 distinct magnetization states (CW/CCW, in/out), and there are no in-between states. The trick is figuring out how to get the switching speed down using exchange bias coupling and crazy anisotropy effects.

        • by goombah99 (560566)

          That makes no sense at all. First all you are saying is that lowest order state of the vortex has 4 modes. But Why can't I have folds on the vortex, just as one can have folds in a magnetic bubble, to make higher order states? e.g. instead of having a pair of dipoles one had a pair quadrupoles.

          As for them being smaller than bubbles, I'm not sure how you know this. For example, vertical storage in harddisks (akin to bubbles) is denser than longitudunal storage (akin to vorticies).

          • by GameGod0 (680382)
            The lowest order state of the vortex has 4 modes because:
            A) The demagnetizing field wants to minimize free magnetic poles at the surface of the element. This might be the largest contribution to the vorticity (ie. having all the spins aligned in a vortex minimizes the free poles at the surface).
            B) There is a discontinuity at the center of the vortex when you look at in-plane magnetization. The spins at the center are frustrated and are forced out-of-plane.

            What do you mean by "folds" on the vortex? Are
    • Good question. Truthfully, even though I read the post several times, I still don't understand how it works. On the other hand, I can't wait to market tornado technology!
      • +5 Informative on why lowly techs leave the actual tech and become PHB's.

        "I don' wanna hear the incomprehensible crap. I'll be in my 2 hour marketing meeting wondering if we can strike deals with Frank Baum's estate."

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Makoss (660100)
      You might want to go look up the differences between MLC and SLC Flash.

      It's just bit packing. For example (and ignoring many low level details*) your 512-byte sector would be stored in 2048 hardware bit buckets instead of 4096 individual storage quanta.

      * For purposes of illustration and ignoring the smart little tricks of hardware reality.
  • "Quaternary bits"? (Score:4, Informative)

    by XanC (644172) on Monday February 02, 2009 @03:52PM (#26698405)

    Is a "quaternary bit" a "quaternary binary digit"? Doesn't make sense. I think you're after a "quaternary digit", or "quit".

    • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Monday February 02, 2009 @03:56PM (#26698457)
      Is a "quaternary bit" a "quaternary binary digit"? Doesn't make sense. I think you're after a "quaternary digit", or "quit".

      I like the sound of 'quigit'.
      • by just_another_sean (919159) on Monday February 02, 2009 @03:59PM (#26698507) Homepage Journal

        Is a "quaternary bit" a "quaternary binary digit"? Doesn't make sense. I think you're after a "quaternary digit", or "quit".

        I like the sound of 'quigit'.

        Quigit eh? Quyte nice. You'll get no quyble from me.

      • by sukotto (122876)

        Personally, I prefer Q*Bert

        @!#?@!

      • I like the sound of 'quigit'.

        A thousand times no, there's fewer good puns with that than "bit." Quit is okay as far as the pun test goes.

        Quata (from quaternary data) also works, though it is of course less accurate. Small price to pay though, you can get puns off of "quarter" and/or "water."

        I think we need to establish from the get-go that no matter what we call it, the most important thing is that computer teachers in high schools can make lame puns for their students to groan about.

      • by srussia (884021)

        Is a "quaternary bit" a "quaternary binary digit"? Doesn't make sense. I think you're after a "quaternary digit", or "quit". I like the sound of 'quigit'.

        So the question is: How many songs fit in a 2 Gigaquigit (2GQ) drive?

    • I vote for 'quidit'! Whether you pronounce it "quit it" or "qui-djet" is up to you.

      ~AA

    • by PitaBred (632671)
      I prefer "quart"
    • Great, we skipped over the shortened form of the trit, and went straight on to quits. Killing the time spent making bad jokes about the shortened trit and keeping our development on pace. Yay!

      • What if one of the 4 slots is deliberately miscoded? Do I feel some beautiful encryption coming on?

        You read the quad as a holistic unit. If you read it clockwise it comes out one way and if you read it counterclockwise it comes out another, with the same hard data stored.

        It's Kurt Godel's Next Generation Dream.

        Remember the old trick of chaining two registers in the 6502 days? If you chain two of these Qritters together, can we get a Klein twist?

        Sorry, I'm feeling there's like a terabyte of storage AND proce

  • And Then (Score:2, Funny)

    by gearloos (816828)
    So I guess now we can call Malware writers "Storm Chasers".
  • by kcbanner (929309) on Monday February 02, 2009 @04:04PM (#26698575) Homepage Journal
    I was really confused for about 5 minutes.
  • Information Theory? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ristoril (60165) on Monday February 02, 2009 @04:09PM (#26698641)

    I read an article about Information Theory [wikipedia.org] a long, long time ago (which is probably why I can't Google it) wherein the authors demonstrated that the most efficient means of storing information would be by using an alphabet that had e (2.71828183) letters.

    It was pretty interesting and has been stuck in my head. In any event, they surmised further that the closest we could get would be if we came up with some sort of trinary alphabet. They also opined that we were damned lucky to have binary as it's the next-most-efficient alphabet.

    • by wjh31 (1372867)
      this doesnt seem too hard to me, if its all done by magnetic polarisation, why would it be hard to have -1,0, and +1, afaik binary was first used to ensure no ambiguity in the state of some electronic component, it was either on or off, since we have advanced, what is it that stops us from moving to trits, other than the ingrained use of bis, is there some technological issue that makes it impractical?
    • The reason we use binary in our computers because it is simpler by far to make a circuit that goes all on or all off, than to make a circuit that has three, or four, or e, or pi distinct voltages. It has nothing to do with information theory efficiency.
      • by wjh31 (1372867)
        i dont see that 3 distinct voltages is hard, because you could have 0, and +/-x, aslong as the circuit is ok with voltages of both signs, good for capacitorsm resistors, not good for diodes, i dont know enough about computer circuitry to know how often components of any particular type are used
        • The key component in digital circuits is the transistor. Like a diode it only conducts electricity in one direction, so that shoots the -x,0,+x idea out the window. Transistors are essentially amplifiers. By adjusting the physical characteristics, you can "tune" a transistor so that its output is essentially all on or all off. This helps to prevent data loss. Even if the voltage drops between devices, or stages, of the circuit anything close to +5v gets boosted to +5v, anything close to 0v gets dropped
          • Like a diode it only conducts electricity in one direction, so that shoots the -x,0,+x idea out the window.

            Uh, no it doesn't.

            This is how CMOS gates work... using P-types and N-types to handle the different voltage "paths". Hell, this is how most modern amplifiers work. Remember how sinusoidal voltages are both positive and negative?

            And you don't want a "linear" transistor as a switch. Good thing switching transistors are nowhere near linear.

            • This is how CMOS gates work... using P-types and N-types to handle the different voltage "paths".

              If you use opposite types, you can handle opposite voltages, but each single transister only allows current in one direction, does it not? Anyway, if you need a P-type and an N-type, you are doubling the component count.

              And you don't want a "linear" transistor as a switch. Good thing switching transistors are nowhere near linear.

              Okay. My bad. I'm just an amateur. I was picturing that they just set up t
        • So the transistors have a certain minimum operating voltage. We want to provide a margin over that value, let's call it A. They also have a certain maximum operating voltage. We want a good margin below that which we will call C. Let's call the voltage halfway between those semi-arbitrary margin points B. From B to the margin we will call X. A+X=B, A+2X=C.

          The real problem for these circuits is the use of a hysteresis loop to definitively select between voltages. One loop switches handily between two values.

    • Their is an apocryphal story that the soviets invested heavily in ternary logic and it was physically to hard to implement that it set them back a decade.

      At the time, most memory was static memory which draws a current even in the quiescent state. it's easy to think about binary currents, they go one way or the other. What's a trinary current?

      Much much later on memory went to charge storage (dynamic memory). This only drew current during switching but none when it was quiescent.

      This memory stored

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I remember seeing this sort of thing discussed a long time ago. The thinking was to find themost economical way of storing/writing numbers, eg what is the most efficient base to use. Base 2 only needs two characters, but needs a long nubmer to store much data. Base 10 needs more characters but the nubmers end up much shorter. So which is best is going to depend on the relative cost of adding more places in the number or more characters in the storage set. If you make the assumption that either has the same

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by MarkPNeyer (729607)

      It's pretty easy to derive this result.

      Suppose you have an alphabet with 'S' different Symbols. There are S^N possible strings of length N. The authors say of that paper claim that the difficulty in reading an N digit string is proportional to the product SN. Therefore, what we'd like to do is minimize the product SN while keeping S^N Constant.

      That means we define k = S^N, and therefore ln k = N ln S, so N = (ln k / ln S). That means we're trying to choose an S to minimize f(S) = S * (ln k / ln S).

      If f(S)

  • Depending on the actual tech, I'm imagining a system where the magnetics are laid down with a rotating magnetic field rather than a rotating disk.

    If possible, this would lead to magnetic disks without moving parts.

  • by philspear (1142299) on Monday February 02, 2009 @04:16PM (#26698737)

    Why didn't I think of that? Tornadoes, in retrospect, seem like the PERFECT place to put my ordered data.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Both storage and retrieval of data is simple. Retrieving data in the same order in which it was stored, maybe not so much.

  • by sac13 (870194) on Monday February 02, 2009 @04:17PM (#26698779)
    This brings a whole new meaning to the term...
  • I assume that this will be in commercial products in "5-10 years"?

  • According to scientists, a vortex forms spontaneously - one vortex per disk - in a small magnetic disk when the disk's diameter falls below a certain limit.

    So my 750GB drive is now 750GB plus one. Big deal!

    Am I missing something?

    • by PitaBred (632671)
      I certainly hope you were trying for funny, because if not, yes, you are missing something.

      They're not talking a physical platter (besides, your 750GB drive probably has 3 or 4 of those). They're talking about the actual magnetic area that holds each bit currently.
      • by inputdev (1252080)
        This wasn't clear to me either, why do they refer to the area holding a bit as a disk? Are they basically saying that you can store 2 bits for every bit by looking at something other than the direction of a magnetic moment? Even that doesn't sound so amazing - seems like it'd be easier to make your magnetic bits smaller, or use something else entirely.
        • by PitaBred (632671)
          You're taking the exact same storage size areas that are on a disk now and effectively doubling the amount of information they can hold. How does that not sound amazing?
  • Gigaquads (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jack2000 (1178961)
    Well Star Trek already measured everything in quads... so yeah. Truth in television! Also Voyager was very fond of "Gigaquads".
  • I don't think that just calling the well known spin-vortices lurid "magnetic tornados" make this a new idea. Gimme one penny for every magnetic or two level or ... system that physicist (I am one of them ...) proposed to be a candidate for groundbreaking new storage systems and I'd be a rich man. At least to my knowledge these spin-vortices are hard to control and often appear as an unwanted effect in domain wall based storage devices in developmen, like IBMs race track RAM. We'll see if we hear more of t
  • quaternary bits that would contain data written as a 0, 1, 2, or 3
    -----
    This would open the door for double density binary storage per magnetic bit as well as adding ternary/quaternary capability.

    a 0 on top of a 0 could be 0, a 0 on top of 1 could be 1, a 1 on top of 0 could be 2, and a 1 on top of 1 could be 3.

    And ternary/quaternary data would be the usual one bit per particle.

    That's just amazing flexibility...

    -Viz

  • For anyone confused about what ternary and quaternary states are, here's a paper on a ternary machine... There actually was a couple of ternary computers built but they never left the university stage...

    http://www.computer-museum.ru/english/setun.htm [computer-museum.ru]

    With this storage it would become more practical to build ternary machines which greatly simplify computing.

    The ramifications for artificial intelligence are astounding... Think of the number of transistors required to be reduced by a factor of 7, and look at wh

    • by jhfry (829244)

      Except AFAIK there aren't any solid state circuit elements that deal well with three states.

      I personally like analog for AI. For example, for recognition of similar objects... one could assume that two trees would have a similar analog signature if scanned with a radar/sonar/3d imaging type device. That's how some radar systems can identify an object purely based upon it's radar signature. For example the AWACS uses an analog computer to process its radar signals.

      • by rgviza (1303161)

        That was kinda my point. With native ternary (or better storage) it might make sense to develop ternary (or better) semiconductors since you'd need fewer components and the power consumption goes down. Going quaternary might give a similar improvement over ternary to going ternary over binary. In the mean time you could take advantage of having 4 states per particle to improve the storage density of binary data enabling the storage tech to be usable to it's potential (and profitable!) in the mean time ;)

        Pr

  • Ok, so I know that a magnetic disc around 100-200nm in diameter will have a vortex domain structure (actually - I don't magnetic nano-rings tend to form onion states, but we'll leave that one for now). I know I can set the vortex state by hitting it with a high intensity laser circularly polarised laser pulse and apply a small +-z magnetic field to set the in/out state. But reading it needs some fancy focussed magneto-optical kerr effect kit and a lot of patience and re-writing the data is tricky - you have

  • Gives a whole new meaning to bit storms.
  • by goodmanj (234846) on Monday February 02, 2009 @06:12PM (#26700525)

    Aunt E&M! Aunt E&M! There's no place like Ohm!

    So I'm guessing the strength of these magnetic gales would be measured in Henries? ... I could go on...

  • With current hard disks if your drive is fubar, you have some chance of recovery of data. What happens if the disk stops on these drives and the magnetic vortex disappears?
  • The bits all go to four. Look, right across the board, four, four, four and...

    Oh, I see. And most bits go up to two?

    Exactly.

    Does that mean it's bigger? Is it any bigger?

    Well, it's two bigger, isn't it? It's not two. You see, most geeks, you know, will be running at two. You're on two here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on two on your chips. Where can you go from there? Where?

    I don't know.

    Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?

  • Far from being fuzzy logic, as some posters suggested above, this is more of the same, solid state computer.

    I want wave forms. I don't want to have to do tons of calculus, in fact, calculus is the opposite of what I want, a lot of the time. What I want is an event-driven wave form simulator. There are millions of applications for such a beast, from neural nets to physics simulations.

    I know what curves I want, mostly, it's combining them together that's tough. I want my computer to simulate the curves in rea

  • After implementation, my drive stores 4.294.967.296.008 bits. Happy day!
  • Guess i dont have to clean up my desk anymore. I'll just buy one of these magnetic tornadoes, and let it suck up every post-it and paperclip. Thats what i call physical storage...

Thus spake the master programmer: "After three days without programming, life becomes meaningless." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

Working...