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Future Computers That Are 'normally Off'

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Computer architecture of the future, based on spintronics and non-volatile STT-MRAM devices.

Japanese National Projects researchers have outlined the future of spin-transfer torque magnetoresistive random access memory.

Credit: Koji Ando/AIP

Japanese National Projects researchers have broadly outlined the future of spin-transfer torque magnetoresistive random access memory (STT-MRAM), which they say could radically alter computer architectures and consumer electronics.

"Spintronics couples magnetism with electronics at the quantum mechanical level," says Japanese National Projects researcher Koji Ando. "Indeed, STT-MRAM no longer requires an electromagnetic coil for both writing and reading information."

The researchers say STT-MRAM could lead to computers that use zero power during any short intervals when users are absent. The technology also could result in extremely energy-efficient personal devices powered by a hand crank or an embedded solar panel. These types of devices could be used in a wide range of applications, including mobile computing and wearable or embedded electronics for the healthcare, safety, and educational industries.

However, some barriers still remain to fully developing the technology. "We need high-performance nonvolatile devices that don't require a power supply to retain information to create 'normally off' computers while simultaneously guaranteeing sufficiently high-speed operation to manipulate information," Ando says.

From AIP Publishing
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