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IBM Makes Revolutionary Racetrack Memory Using Existing Tools

Racetrack chip

These nanowires are part of a prototype chip for a novel form of data storage that could fit more information into a smaller space than todays technology.

Credit: IBM

IBM researchers have developed the first prototype of racetrack computer memory, which combines on one chip all of the components needed to read, store, and write data.

The chip was made using standard semiconductor manufacturing tools.

Racetrack memory stores data on nanoscale metal wires and bits of information are represented by magnetic stripes in those nanowires. Writing data involves inserting a new magnetic stripe into a nanowire by applying current to it, while reading data involves moving the stripes along the nanowire past a device that can detect the boundaries between stripes. "We've been able to make the first integrated version with everything on one piece of silicon," says IBM's Stuart Parkin.

"It's a nice demonstration that shows it's possible to make this kind of memory using [complementary metal oxide semiconductor]," says the Institute of Fundamental Electronics' Dafine Ravelosona.

The IBM researchers are also experimenting with hard magnetic materials. "Using this different material, we have discovered we can move the domain walls [between magnetic stripes] very fast and that they are much smaller and stronger than in the soft magnetic material used in the integrated devices," Parkin says.

From Technology Review
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Abstracts Copyright © 2011 Information Inc. External Link, Bethesda, Maryland, USA 



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