IBM sure has some seriously crazy semiconductor researchers locked in its basement. These guys question everything when it comes to advancing chip technology. Today IBM announced a new type of memory that will combine some of the best properties of Flash with the best properties of hard drives. Like Flash, it won’t have any moving parts, but like hard drives, it will store more information and be able to quickly write data.
For example, this technology could enable a handheld device such as an mp3 player to store around 500,000 songs or around 3,500 movies — 100 times more than is possible today — with far lower cost and power consumption.
IBM calls the technology “racetrack memory,” because it takes advantage of electrons traveling around a “racetrack” of wire. Somehow IBM has figured out how to store information in the boundaries between magnetic regions in magnetic materials. If I were a physicist I could tell you how it works, but I’m not, so if you’re interested, check out IBM’s site.
One of the cooler takeaways is that these chips won’t be flat, the way most integrated circuits are today, but will have the ability to be built up. IBM says the 3D nature of the chips could be another way around Moore’s Law. Of course, they’ve made that claim in the past with some of their DNA chip research. Maybe they just want a law named after someone who works at Big Blue?
Om adds on Friday: It is painful to see the story being dumbed down and then being dumbed down further. Don’t believe me, then read these headlines: New chip will let an iPod store 500,000 songs and IBM breakthrough means 500,000 song iPod