IBM report shows researchers closer to developing Racetrack memory

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IBM researchers published a report Thursday in the journal Science outlining research developments that move the tech giant closer to developing computing devices that could store as much as 100 times more information while using much less energy than today’s designs.

Researchers have been working in IBM’s labs for the last six years to develop Racetrack memory, a new technology that would move data to where it can be used by sliding magnetic bits along nanowire ‘racetracks,’ allowing data to be stored in a smaller space and accessed more quickly.


Stuart Parkin, an IBM fellow and lead researcher on the project, said that when fully developed, the Racetrack memory technology will allow for production of devices that would not only have much greater storage capacity but would be cheaper, faster, more compact and more energy efficient than today’s devices.

‘If we’re successful, in a few years time, you could find Racetrack memory in all computing devices,’ Parkin said. '... Racetrack memory could dramatically change the environment if we’re successful, as we plan to be.’

The technology would, for instance, allow for development of a portable device that could store every movie produced worldwide in a given year, IBM said in a statement.

Parkin said the research to date has shown that the basic physics behind Racetrack memory is sound. The next step is to design small prototypes. It will still be probably five more years before consumers might see a device using the new memory technology, he said.

The research published Thursday demonstrates that IBM scientists were the first to measure the time and distance of domain wall acceleration and deceleration in response to electric current pulses, which is how digital information is moved and processed processed in Racetrack memory.

IBM has invested heavily in a number of long-range research projects; Parkin called the Racetrack memory research one of the most exciting.


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-- Abby Sewell