Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne professor Mathias Klaui is working on a racetrack memory technology that could be 100,000 times faster and consume less power than current hard disks.
Klaui's solution for a high-volume, ultra-rapid, nonvolatile read-write magnetic memory involves data recorded on magnetic tape that would be a nickel-iron nanowire, 1 million times smaller than the classic tape. Nothing would move mechanically, as the bits of information stored in the wire would be pushed around inside the tape using a spin-polarized current, which would reach the speed of several hundred meters per second in the process. Each bit of information would be clearly separated from the next by domain walls with magnetic vortices so that the data can be read reliably. Millions or even billions of nanowires could be embedded in a chip, which would provide enormous capacity on a shock-proof platform. Computers equipped with racetrack memory would be able to boot up instantly.
Racetrack memory does not need to be powered every millionth of a second like RAM, so energy consumption could be reduced by nearly a factor of 300 while the memory is idle. A device could be ready for market in five to seven years.
From Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
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