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IBM Claims Spintronics Memory Breakthrough 77

Posted by timothy
from the dance-electrons-dance dept.
CWmike writes with this excerpt from ComputerWorld: "In a paper set to be published this week in the scientific journal Nature, IBM researchers are claiming a huge breakthrough in spintronics, a technology that could significantly boost capacity and lower power use of memory and storage devices. Spintronics, short for 'spin transport electronics,' uses the natural spin of electrons within a magnetic field in combination with a read/write head to lay down and read back bits of data on semiconductor material. By changing an electron's axis in an up or down orientation — all relative to the space in which it exists — physicists are able to have it represent bits of data. For example, an electron on an upward axis is a one; and an electron on a downward axis is a zero. Spintronics has long faced an intrinsic problem because electrons have only held an 'up or down' orientation for 100 picoseconds. A picosecond is one trillionth of a second [one thousandth of a nanosecond.] One hundred picoseconds is not enough time for a compute cycle, so transistors cannot complete a compute function and data storage is not persistent. In the study published in Nature, IBM Research and the Solid State Physics Laboratory at ETH Zurich announced they had found a way to synchronize electrons, which could extend their spin lifetime by 30 times to 1.1 nanoseconds, the time it takes for a 1 GHz processor to cycle."
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IBM Claims Spintronics Memory Breakthrough

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13, 2012 @07:20AM (#40971793)

    Sure, not everyone one who comes to /. is a long time geek. We all start somewhere.

  • Likely not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by doublebackslash (702979) <doublebackslash@gmail.com> on Monday August 13, 2012 @07:23AM (#40971805)

    Likely not, or not like they claim. Stories like this remind me of Maxwell's Demon. It seems to violate the rules, allows for unlimited energy! Except until you realize that the demon can't be run for free. They claim the breakthrough in stability of the spin states and neglect the cost in space and energy in everything else around it.

    Stop this sensationalism! Give me some science on it and tell me some more details. How do they generate electrons with a single spin? How about a blurb about spintronics already being used in modern hard drive read heads? Cut the nonsense and tittilating lies about promises of the future and tell us the details.

    Geez

  • by inasity_rules (1110095) on Monday August 13, 2012 @07:23AM (#40971809) Journal

    Yes, this is an america-centric site, as we are often reminded, and you guys don't like SI units... :P

    Queue the Metric/Imperial Wars:

    In all seriousness, they could have just given the frequency and we'd have been fine. That refresh rate is very doable with a dedicated controller.

  • Re:Likely not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GuldKalle (1065310) on Monday August 13, 2012 @07:44AM (#40971907)

    Just because the product is not in the shops by tomorrow doesn't mean it's sensationalism.
    What we have just witnessed is science. What follows is a lot of optimizations, experiments, cost/benefit analyses, prototyping etc, aka engineering.
    It is a breakthrough because the engineers have gotten a a new tool in their toolbox.
    It is not sensationalism because there are not a extravagant claims.

    Geez

  • Re:Likely not (Score:2, Insightful)

    by doublebackslash (702979) <doublebackslash@gmail.com> on Monday August 13, 2012 @08:05AM (#40972063)

    There is an extravagant claim.

    IBM researchers are claiming a huge breakthrough in spintronics, a technology that could significantly boost capacity and lower power use of memory and storage devices

    But that isn't really even the worst part. It might be true, it might come to pass. Fine, fine. Don't gush about it for half the article, or if they insist on gushing then at least lay out the chllenges and technical details needed to get there.

    Sorry I seemed as though I don't appreciate their work. I do. I just want more than a friggin advertisment for an article.

  • Re:Likely not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Monday August 13, 2012 @08:14AM (#40972109)

    It is not sensationalism because there are not a extravagant claims.

    Its toward the end of the summary, where the only thing preventing spintronic deployment is the refresh rate was immensely way too high, now its merely too high.

    As you listed, there's a lot more work to be done if this is ever deployable. Just lowering the refresh rate from laughable to ridiculous is not enough.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13, 2012 @09:39AM (#40972915)

    I absolutely hate posts that put part of the reply into the subject line, and you should burn for encouraging it.

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