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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 Joce640k (829181) on Monday August 13, 2012 @08:16AM (#40971759) Homepage

    Was it really necessary to explain the SI unit 'pico' on Slashdot...?

  • Eek! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gaelfx (1111115) on Monday August 13, 2012 @08:34AM (#40971861)

    Spintronics...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.

    I'm wondering if this will fail the same way HDDs do when the head falls? Whenever I see something about read/write heads, I get flashblacks to all the clicks-of-death I've heard over the years, and it always makes me wince a little.

    I'll admit it, I don't entirely understand what they're talking about here, but it seems a little scant on details such as whether or not this uses readily available (cheap) materials or uses some rare elements that are possibly put to better use elsewhere. I'm sure many will disagree with me and point out cases where I'm wrong, but I'm personally not all that concerned about having more storage, I've got more than I know what to do with at the moment. What I would rather see is some technology that is more easily recyclable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13, 2012 @09:13AM (#40972107)

    Was it really necessary for you to type 'Was it really necessary' twice? You could have just put an ellipse before the second part, especially since you ended the subject with an ellipse.

    It's an ellipsis, pal. You spent too much time in Mathematics courses and not enough in writing.

  • Math is hard (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PTBarnum (233319) on Monday August 13, 2012 @11:25AM (#40973503)

    Since when does 100 picoseconds * 30 = 1.1 nanoseconds?

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