back to article IBM 'one atom, one bit' storage breakthrough

If you've been hankering for a multi-terabyte USB thumb drive, you may be in luck: IBM scientists have developed a technique that could — eventually — help increase data-storage densities by orders of magnitude. The breakthrough, announced Friday, allows researchers to measure how long a bit of information can be retained in …


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  1. Neal 5

    Garden shed technolgy from garden shed technologist

    Mind you, it's very impressive, just like those lads from Manchester who can build orbital spacecraft in their garden shed. This must be the equivalent of them being hired by TopGear to attempt to send a Reliant Robin to orbit. Just as likely in real life, but a good jape all the same.

    So 20 BluRay films or thereabouts on a thumb drive for the future then, could be used by Apple as backup storage in case of a cloud fail. Can't wait.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      The Judas Network for Weak Links ....... and Stronger Bonds

      "So 20 BluRay films or thereabouts on a thumb drive for the future then, could be used by Apple as backup storage in case of a cloud fail." ... Neal 5 Posted Saturday 25th September 2010 00:43 GMT

      Clouds don't fail, Neal 5, their controller's sell out to lesser competition and sub optimum primal opposition for Loadsamoney and ITs Firewall of Street Credit with Flash QE Cash.

      And paradoxically, it is also how they are retained and maintained to perform excellently, and to orders. ......... :-) which is a sort of Virtual Detainment for One's Pleasure too.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Love'em or Hate'em you have to admire IBM here

    They are doing a lot of pretty forward thinking research. This sort of research does not come cheap.

    Even if you don't like IBM (for a myriad of reasons) IMHO you should at least tip your hat at them for their work in areas like this. The payback times for this sort of stuff could be decades but it needs to be done by someone.

    Although I'm against Software Patents in general I don't begrudge them getting Patents for this sort of work. They are spening lots of Dollars so it is only fair for them to possibly get some ROI in due course.

    This sort of stuff is not the sort of research that a geek could do in their Mom's basement is it?

    Anyway, they get a Thumbs up from me here. (And for resisting SCO's attempt at a RICO scam)

  3. Rodrigo Valenzuela
    Big Brother


    Now distracted civil servants will not left abandoned CDs, DVDs or laptops containing such trivial stuff as names, addresses, social security numbers, no, no, no... they will be able to lose entire DNA databases.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      ... even better

      if they lose an entire DNA database it renders the information and technology worthless!

    2. Disco-Legend-Zeke

      Having A Murderer's DNA...

      ...on file would enable the reconstruction of accidentally executed people.

      Or maybe batch replicate 25,000 grunts and 3,000 missle experts, etc...

      I read once that the Dole was created because the street urchins being drafted were too scrawney to fight.

      Sadly, it seems, men can't seem to get too drunk to fight.

    3. Steven Jones

      Losing a DNA database

      Now I don't know how large the national DNA database is, but the amount of data held for any on profile is relatively small. All that is held is a limited number of markers - maybe just a few dozen per person. This means, in principle that you could put the raw DNA profile data from the approximately 3.1m people on the UK NDNAD onto a single 50GB Blu-Ray disk, although I've no doubt by the time that they've puffed this out with all the other overheads and information that is an operation system, it's much bigger than that.

      Of course if what you mean is a full genome sequence for every individual, then that's a very different matter. With about 19,000 genes in the human genome, then any database size is going to be perhaps three orders of magnitude larger than one of mere DNA profiles.

  4. diefirma

    HP Memrister is here now

    HP will be selling their nanotech memrister memory in 2013. Hynix is the fab. This IBM press release is just that - a press release - it is decades away from being practical. The HP memory can be layered and will scale to a terabyte per layer. There is no reason why there couldn't be 1,000 layers per chip. This equates to about a PETA byte per cubic cm!!! Google memrister and watch the youtube videos. Yes I have an HP bias - I retired from there.

  5. adnim

    Closer to dog

    Impressive. Still, they have a long way to go before they get the spatial resolution down to Planck length and temporal resolution down to Planck time.

    I would like to know if the fabric of the universe has a copyright notice and an EULA printed on it.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      The fabric of the universe

      Surely the Big Bang counts as "opening the shrink-wrap" fifteen billions years before you are able to read the EULA.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So nearly funny...

    Sorry, but your witty subtitle should read, "Is that a yottabyte in your pocket, or...?"

    As I write I have a 1.5TB hard drive on the desk beside me. It would fit comfortably into the pocket of an overcoat or anorak (sic).

    1. dpg21

      Scale fail

      Aye, I wondered about that too. Quick calculation gives 2.2^23 atoms (of aluminium) in a square centimetre - which is slightly more than a terabyte. 10^9 atoms would be a cube 28 microns across, which I'm not sure would even be visible to the naked eye...

  7. SgtBayonet

    My god...

    Just think, you could haul around an entire internet's worth of porn on your laptop! :P

  8. IMVHO


    Oh my! Excite an atom, and it will, in-turn, excite you. Qantum states, elevated electrons, and bears. There are bears, right? Whatever.. nature continues to astound, confront, and stifle our little games. This one sounds a bit too solar-flare-senstitive to be usable. The problem with atomic, and lower, happenings is that they are fleeting, as best as can be measured (we get all ga-ga when we can measure just how fleeting). It may make for fun RAM-type giggles, but likely not peristent storage. For that, we'll be stuck up at the molecular level for the time being. Just my opine...

    I picked an icon, but then I observed it, and it was a dead cat. Bruuuaahhh!

  9. kit

    A thonsand layers of memrister memory?

    Think of the the heat a thousand layers of memrister cells can generate. Probably can incinerate the entire computer together with its metal casing. No doubt, 3D chips are the future of the chip industry, not only for the memory industry. Heat is the main reason why we still do not see many 3D chips in the market right now.

  10. Anon 17

    Is it just me

    Or does the notion of a man named S. Loth making extremely high speed measurements strike anyone else as hilarious?

  11. Pete 8

    Great Stuff!

    The entire internet stored on the head of a pin.

    All the published works of mankind, hidden in a jam butty, never mind Gaga.

  12. A J Stiles


    One bit per particle. It's a great idea.

    Because nothing could *possibly* happen that might corrupt the *only* copy of a bit ..... could it?

    Mine's the one with a copy of "Quantum Mechanics for Dummies" in the pocket. It's not the one you're used to seeing me wearing, though --that one's in the wash.

  13. mhenriday

    Don't know what you've got in your pocket, Rik,

    but I've got a scanning tunneling microscope in mine ! Cheers !...


  14. Dork Lard

    re. Great Stuff!

    "The entire internet stored on the head of a pin."

    And then someone sneezed and we kinda lost it.

  15. Bernard M. Orwell


    Uncertainty Principal not applying here?

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