Cheaper, denser, faster: IBM working on new nanowire-based memory

“A new nanowire-based memory device being developed by researchers at IBM could combine the best qualities of the various types of memory used today, driving down costs and improving performance. If the experimental memory pans out–and the work is still in the very early stages of development–it could serve as a universal memory, substituting for the different types now used,” Kevin Bullis reports for Technology Review.

“Stuart Parkin, an experimental physicist at IBM’s Almaden Research Center, in San Jose, CA, says that the memory, which would pack a hundred bits of data on a single nanowire, could potentially store 10 to 100 times more data than flash–the type of memory used in digital cameras and other small portable devices–while operating at much faster speeds,” Bullis reports.

“Although it is early in development, the research has attracted attention because of Parkin’s track record for making major breakthroughs in magnetic memory. His earlier discoveries and inventions have led to a thousand-fold increase in the storage density of magnetic hard drives, paving the way for the massive data-storage centers crucial to today’s Internet, as well as making possible the immense storage capacity of portable devices such as iPods,” Bullis reports.

“The researchers will probably start with a simple version of the technology, in which the nanowires are arranged horizontally on a chip, rather than vertically,” Bullis reports. “This will still allow the memory chips to be about as dense as flash memory, but with far faster performance and greater reliability than flash. If that’s successful, it would justify spending more money on even more compact devices using vertical nanowires, Parkin says.”

More in the interesting full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Jonathan T.” for the heads up.]


  1. Gordon‘s question was answered with “Flash memory is close to replacing hard drives. A product that’s faster and stores 10 to 100 times the memory should easily do it.”. Fact is, flash still costs more and requires more space than HD. Look at the iPhone, for example. It’s shape is pretty much set by its screen size so space isn’t much of an issue. 16 GB is more than triple the original iPod’s had but 1/10th what the current maxed-out iPod has. The iPod doesn’t really need the additional speed the new tech offers, but RAM of any sort is pretty much shock resistant – unlike an HD. And, it uses much less energy, even when working.
    Get the storage up by a factor of 10(+), get the size down, bring the cost in line, and you have a viable replacement for an HD.
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