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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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  • What is the ETA? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mr_stinky_britches ( 926212 ) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @05:35PM (#29840451) Homepage Journal

    Sounds promising, but how many months/years/decades before we can reasonably expect to see this used on a wide scale?

  • by RabidMoose ( 746680 ) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @05:37PM (#29840473) Homepage
    Same as always, "three to five years". (I'm just guessing. Of course I haven't RTFA.)
  • by dschuetz ( 10924 ) <<gro.tensad> <ta> <divad>> on Thursday October 22, 2009 @05:40PM (#29840521)

    Or just a demonstration of an artificial structure with resolution / density that'd permit 1 TB in whatever their size is?

    I didn't see anything in the article that leads me to believe it's an actual storage device. Come to think of it, I'm not sure it's even necessarily a "fingernail-sized" chip they made, just that if you scaled their research to that size it'd hold 1 TB.

    Any information other than this incredibly vague article? (I swear, more and more frequently we're seeing useless articles that say even less than the press release they're drawn from. And aren't the press releases often DESIGNED to be vague and over-promising, possibly to attract more research dollars?) Be nice if we'd just see their actual research, or a rough draft of a paper, or even just a frank interview with the geeks involved.

  • Performance? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by saleenS281 ( 859657 ) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @05:47PM (#29840597) Homepage
    It's great that you can store 1TB on it, but what does the performance look like? If it takes me 4 hours to pull a gig of data off of it, it's nearly useless. I could see some very, very corner cases where you need to store data indefinitely, and would be able to recover it with no timeline attached, but that's awfully rare nowadays. I want to see IOPS and access time ;) I'm also wondering how you would even read and write data. They seem to have left that detail out.
  • by Gordo_1 ( 256312 ) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @06:00PM (#29840741)

    how we go from the below scientific journal abstract to the Slashdot headline: "NCSU's Fingernail-Size Chip Can Hold 1TB"?

    We have investigated the magnetic properties of the Ni-MgO system with an Ni concentration of 0.5 at.%. In as-grown crystals, Ni ions occupy substitutional Mg sites. Under these conditions the Ni-MgO system behaves as a perfect paramagnet. By using a controlled annealing treatment in a reducing atmosphere, we were able to induce clustering and form pure Ni precipitates in the nanometer size range. The size distribution of precipitates or nanodots is varied by changing annealing time and temperature. Magnetic properties of specimens ranging from perfect paramagnetic to ferromagnetic characteristics have been studied systematically to establish structure-property correlations. The spontaneous magnetization data for the samples, where Ni was precipitated randomly in MgO host, fits well to Bloch's T3/2-law and has been explained within the framework of spin wave theory predictions.

    Seriously, do you see anything about a chip in there? Anyone? Bueller?

  • Re:Trollin'. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 644bd346996 ( 1012333 ) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @06:29PM (#29840981)

    The difference between one ISO terabyte and 1 TiB is relatively smaller than the variance among normal fingernails.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 22, 2009 @06:33PM (#29841017)

    Can we change the title of this post to...

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

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @06:39PM (#29841063) Homepage

    This is yet another of those articles where somebody did something vaguely promising in materials science [], and it's immediately being touted as if it were a product.

    They're not talking about a "chip" at all. The material they've produced sounds more like something that might work as a disk surface. "Under these conditions the Ni-MgO system behaves as a perfect paramagnet." It's not clear what you'd use as a read/write head, even if they can create a surface of "nanodots".

  • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @07:25PM (#29841455) Homepage Journal

    Men have short wide fingernails on large hands. And women have long dainty fingernails on small hands. I wonder if statistically the area works out to be about the same.

  • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @07:33PM (#29841531) Homepage Journal

    Wikipedia is wrong, as usual. A terabit, terabyte or teraword is 40 address lines. You can say it's 10e12 when they go back to making decade logic. If you want to get punched in the face then say tebi.

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

    by retchdog ( 1319261 ) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @08:54PM (#29841933) Journal

    Having 2^(x+3) bits has not a lot to do with the fact that you then have 2^(2^(x+3)) combinations of them... (except for certain integer math operations which are for implementation reasons faster if done on a power-of-2 number of bits, like cryptography. But this is not a fundamental matter.)

    Also, "quantum logical units" made me vomit in my mouth.

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

    by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @10:17PM (#29842277)

    If there's a B, b, or a reference to bits or bytes, then it's in powers of 2.

    Not for bandwidth. Base-2 units have never been used to describe bandwidth. (If you have a 1MB per second connection, that's exactly 1,000,000 bytes per second.)

    Not for hard drive capacity at any time later than ancient history.

    Not for floppy disks, which were always in ridiculous mixed units of 1024*1000.

    Not for optical media, which come in sizes like 4,700,000,000 bytes.

    Not for file sizes reported in any non-braindead application.

    In fact, not for anything other than solid state RAM.

    So your assertion that "there is no confusion" is 100% false. The explicit distinction between TB and TiB should be strictly enforced in all contexts due to the historical abuse of SI terminology by people like you.

    It is IMPERATIVE to measure bits in (base 2) exponential terms because bits are quantum logical units. We count them, and we are concerned with possible comibnations in a given number of bits.

    This statement makes zero sense. You're confusing the number of permutations that "n" bits can denote with the number "n" itself. Just because the number of permutations of n bits happens to be 2**n, that property in no way constrains us to denote measurements of the number n itself in some strange hybrid derivative of base 2 and base 10. (Which is only slightly more convenient to do arithmetic with than Roman numerals. Quick: how many 100 MiB files fit onto a 4.377 GiB DVD?)

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

    by master_p ( 608214 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @05:26AM (#29843831)

    Since we are talking about digital computers based on the binary numerical system, using base 2 makes a lot more sense than using base 10.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 23, 2009 @07:39AM (#29844371)
    I'm surprised every time I see just how much sexual frustration slashdotters tend to build up

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