A cool development in storage space
While the world has been otherwise distracted by technocrat coup d’états and the imminent collapse of the Eurozone, computer firm IBM recently announced a major breakthrough in the development of hardware memory. After five years of research, researchers for the San Jose based organisation have reduced the number of atoms required to hold a bit of data, the basic unit required for computer programming.
The co-founder of Intel gave his name to “Moore’s Law”, a perceived trend in computing that states that all produces either double in speed or storage every two years. By utilising a rare technique within the circuitry of computer drives, IBM have annihilated this trend, reducing the number of atoms required to store one bit of information for one million atoms, to twelve.
Antiferromagnetism, in which atoms spin in opposite directions, has allowed the creation of an exceptionally dense solid state drive, approximately a hundred-times thicker than those currently installed in home computers. By making tiny fluctuations in the temperature of individual iron atoms, binary information could be read in terms of the magnetic charge, which is altered by the rapid change in the heat of the atomic structure.
As should be expected, the breakthrough is currently more theoretical than practical. Dealing with technology on the atomic scale is something only achievable in dedicated laboratories rather than the factory floor. It should be noted that achieving such behaviour is currently possible only at temperatures close to absolute zero. The minuscule manipulations required to force individual atoms to “switch” rotation can also only be achieved with specialised scanners, as could be expected, outside a handful of laboratories, the layman is unlikely to have access to such technology.
However, the current ethos behind this area of mechanics is to reduce the standard unit to a single atom. Already, the minimum size IBM believes will be necessary for the generation of a single bit at room temperature is just over 150 atoms. Whilst most personal desktops are currently equipped to hold around a terabyte (TB) of information, the IBM development would make 100-150 TB the standard, dramatically altering the relationship between the consumer and the computer.
The development by the Californian-based firm (a state where, contrary to Republican rhetoric, has not seen an exodus of firms owing to punitive tax rates) has been essentially to show that perceived limits on computer memory are obsolete. Within a decade, entire video libraries could easily be held on a single laptop. Given current developments in wireless networks and cloud back-up, in which data is automatically stored on a central server, physical film libraries could soon enter a Malthusian Era. The idea of purchasing entertainment from the high-street may well end, allowing for direct purchase between purchaser and supplier to become the industry standard.”