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Data Storage Hardware Technology

NCSU's Fingernail-Size Chip Can Hold 1TB 227

CWmike writes "Engineers from North Carolina State University have created a new fingernail-size chip that can hold 1 trillion bytes (a terabyte) of data. They said their nanostructured Ni-MgO system can store up to 20 high-definition DVDs or 250 million pages of text, 'far exceeding the storage capacities of today's computer memory systems.' Using the process of selective doping, in which an impurity is added to a material whose properties consequently change, the engineers worked at nanoscale and added metal nickel to magnesium oxide, a ceramic. The resulting material contained clusters of nickel atoms no bigger than 10 square nanometers — a pinhead has a diameter of 1 million nanometers. The discovery represents a 90% size reduction compared with today's techniques, and an advancement that could boost computer storage capacity. 'Instead of making a chip that stores 20 gigabytes, you have one that can handle one terabyte, or 50 times more data,' said the team's leader, Jagdish 'Jay' Narayan, director of the National Science Foundation Center for Advanced Materials and Smart Structures at the university."
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NCSU's Fingernail-Size Chip Can Hold 1TB

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  • There is no chip. (Score:5, Informative)

    by victim ( 30647 ) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @05:37PM (#29840475)

    They have made a material which could if you designed a suitable chip and associated circuitry, and figured out how to manufacture it at large scale, would let you store a terabyte of data on a fingernail sized chip.

    The whoever wrote the article title should be embarrassed, as should timothy for propagating it.

  • Re:Trollin'. (Score:3, Informative)

    by NoYob ( 1630681 ) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @05:38PM (#29840497)

    ...have created a new fingernail-size chip that can hold 1 trillion bytes (a terabyte) of data.

    A trillion bytes is a terabyte? You best be trollin', summary.

    Uh, yeah! []

  • Re:Trollin'. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @05:46PM (#29840581) Journal


    Different notations as to whats a Terabyte, the second one being the binary notation.

    But more importantly, the summary* doesn't say which notation they're using, but because they say trillion we can assume the former. Why is that important? Look at the numbers.Thats 99 Gigs of difference.

    *(Because I wouldn't read the full article)

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @05:48PM (#29840603) Homepage

    The actual press release does not claim that they "made a chip". That's a fabrication of the ComputerWorld reporter.

  • I find this article a bit confusing, because it speaks of "harnessing the energy of a spinning electron":

    "Most energy used today is harnessed through the movement of current and is limited by the amount of heat that it produces, but the energy created by the spinning of electrons produces no heat," the university state in a press release.

    Anyone who knows anything at all about quantum mechanics knows that the spin of an electron is quantized and cannot change.

    The Wikipedia article has this to say about spintronics:

    Electrons are spin-1/2 fermions and therefore constitute a two-state system with spin "up" and spin "down". To make a spintronic device, the primary requirements are to have a system that can generate a current of spin polarized electrons comprising more of one spin species—up or down—than the other (called a spin injector), and a separate system that is sensitive to the spin polarization of the electrons (spin detector). Manipulation of the electron spin during transport between injector and detector (especially in semiconductors) via spin precession can be accomplished using real external magnetic fields or effective fields caused by spin-orbit interaction.

    This makes MUCH more sense! Reporters are always notorious for getting the science wrong.

  • Re:Trollin'. (Score:5, Informative)

    by maxfresh ( 1435479 ) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @06:20PM (#29840905)
    The confusion probably arises because not all countries and languages use the same terminology for large numbers.

    There are two naming conventions in general use, short-scale, and long-scale. In the short-scale countries such as the US, UK, etc, Trillion = 10^12, but in the long-scale countries, Trillion = 10^18. Obviously, if you are in a long-scale country, a Trillion (10^18) bytes is a (10^6) times more than a Terabyte (10^12 bytes). You can see this article for more on short and long scale: []
  • Re:There is no chip. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Phat_Tony ( 661117 ) * on Thursday October 22, 2009 @06:22PM (#29840915)
    I found an even more impressive material, and I can already manufacture it myself in bulk.

    Each base of DNA can be AGT or C, so that's 2 bits worth of data per base pair.

    A terabyte = 1.1259E+15 bits, so a terabyte of DNA is 5.6295E+14 base pairs.

    For mass, [5.6295E+14 base pairs] x [660 daltons per base pair] = [3.71547E+17 daltons] = 6.169686786411827E-7 grams = .62 micrograms per terabyte.

    That's smaller than my fingernail by a pretty good margin. In fact, my actual fingernail already contains maybe a petabyte of storage.

    Unlike their new super material, I've already developed (well, OK, discovered. Well, no, read about other people discovering) techniques for reading, writing, and copying data with this storage medium.

    However, like them, I haven't worked out any computer interface yet.
  • Re:Trollin'. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Craig Davison ( 37723 ) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @06:35PM (#29841035)

    It's safe to say now that "trillion", as an English word, means 10^12 in English-speaking places.

  • Re:There is no chip. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) * on Thursday October 22, 2009 @08:55PM (#29841939) Journal

    No, A only pairs with T, and G only pairs with C. T paired with A is not the same as A paired with T. The cell only reads one strand of the DNA (at a time), so you really don't have to worry about what it's paired with. Since there are 4 possibilities, AGCT, that's 2 bits.

  • Re:Trollin'. (Score:3, Informative)

    by selven ( 1556643 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @06:49AM (#29844139)

    No, 1.1. 1 kib = 1.024 kb, 1 mib = 1.048 mb, i gib = 1.074 gb, 1 tib = 1.100 tb.

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