back to article Boffins develop '500TB iPod' storage tech

In the future, your iPod Touch may be able to hold millions of tracks, thanks to a breakthrough in storage technology made by the University of Glasgow. Researchers at the university have developed a technique for radically increasing the number of gigabytes that can be crammed into one square inch of data-storage chip, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Nature Nanotechnology

  2. Ian Moffatt

    Maybe the Dalek was right after all

    With storage like that available, perhaps he DID download the internet ;-)

    The one with the sink plunger poking out of the pocket please. . .

  3. Eden


    But 20 years =/

    And what sort of retention and access time are they talking..and cost!

  4. Jamie

    20 years away???

    Take a look at history over the past 20 years, technology will move a lot faster than he thinks if it will be 20 years for a 500TB drive in an iPod. But better yet hopefully the iPod will be gone by then and replaced with something better like the ZUNE.

    hehehehehe, let the flames begin.

  5. Chris

    What's the point?

    500TB iPod? Record @ 320kb/s, and that gives you 425 years of music. I suppose if you start early and listen to it at 5x speed, then perhaps the iPod might be a good use.

    Unless of course we are recording uncompressed HiDef pr0n @ 1.485Gb/s. Then we could store 32 days of hot sweaty action. That sounds better.

    Mine's the one with google calculator sticking out...

  6. John Macintyre

    it's great to know..

    that through the power of journalism it's clear that such superior storage tech will only ever be used on iPod's and nothing else. way to go.

    mine's the one with the nano, shuffle, itouch and iphone in

  7. Tom

    No Point..

    Going on other news today, the world will be destroyed in 18 years, so looks like i have my impending doom to look forward before getting my hands on a 500TB HDD.

  8. Chris iverson

    Does that mean

    that we will be able to store Jesus on our Jesus phones?

  9. Anonymous Coward

    a bit small?

    You can bet Windows 2028 will be a 499.5TB install so it'll go in no time.

  10. John Bayly
    IT Angle

    Oh dear God

    Are we now reduced to having all mention of capacity being referenced to iPods?

    This is an IT site, so you really shouldn't be copying the articles from the BBC verbatim (that pun snuck in there).

  11. Colin Jackson
    Jobs Halo


    At this rate, I'll be able to back myself up onto my own Ipod.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    What ever happened to...

    Where is that 10TB+ storage card we were told about 6+ years ago?

  13. Tim
    Paris Hilton

    Here's a thought

    Seeing as memory capacity is exploding exponentially; If I was scanned and that scan converted to schematics which were detailed enough to reconstruct me from scratch, how much memory would the information take... (uncompressed?)

  14. Joe K

    Heard that one before......


    Every so often a Uni annouces some magical memory tech, years away obviously, that goes absolutely NOWHERE!

    The big white hope was Keele uni, with their high density memory tech in 2001, that was, according to El Reg, only 2 years away.

    Maybe the big memory companies buy them off, or worse, but these things never materialise.

  15. Azz


    About 3meg.

    You asked for that...

  16. Bounty
    Thumb Down

    plus or minus four 9's

    "onto a single chip – around five times the current limit."

    "raising it from just 3.3GB to around 500,000GB."

    so it raises the density by 5..... so that should put us at 3.3GB x 5 = 16.5GB or about 499,983.5GB (99.9967%) less than promised. Why doesn't that supprise me.

    So in 20 years we'll finally have 160GB ipod touches.

  17. Nexox Enigma

    Typical Researcher...

    You'll find that a researcher will often spend years working on some really neat analysis, inventing, modeling, etc, mostly just because it was interesting to them at the time and nobody had done it before. Then it comes time to make a presentation or a lecture tour, and they have to figure out how their research is applicable to anything that anyone in the audience would care about.

    So much research is useful, but focused on an incredably narrow field, with assumptions that limit the effects of things that the researcher isn't studying, but which are important in the real world.

    These researchers probably did some incredably neat things with the metal oxide matrix thing, characterizing behaviour of atoms in regards to some kind of input, but there is a large difference between discovering and characterizing a useful phenomenon and actually using it.

    But if they hadn't said anything about a 500TB iPod then they probably wouldn't have made it on El Reg... so you can see why they'd do it.

  18. LeBeourfCurtaine
    Jobs Horns

    Borrowing from Arthur C Clarke...

    Perhaps in 20 years time 500TB will be enough space to store Steve Jobs' digitally recorded personality alongside 8GB of MP3s? Give it another 20 years and you might just be able to slip in some ego as well...

  19. David

    @ LeBeourfCurtaine

    I don't think given 100 years we'd be able to store all his ego...

    Mine's the bright yellow one with the reflective trim along the arms and back. It's a might heavy, what with the asbestos lining and helmet inside...

  20. greg

    DNA still unbeat then

    I clearly remember that astounding number in a book that stated that the human DNA has

    10^600'000'000 (yes, 10^600 millions !) possibilities.

    I also remember scientists going with an approximate number of particles in the universe in the range of 10^80 only...

    That leaves more than 10^50 million numbers to code each of those particles...

    So when someone male brags about his new toy's storage capacity, remind him of how much he wasted last time he ejaculated...

  21. Charles Manning

    Hollow promises

    It is always easy to make predictions based on some highly controlled lab experiment, but it is a lot more difficult to develop a technology to the point where it is realiable, and cheap enough, to be used in consumer appliances.

    It is much, much, easier to make rash promises for 20 years out (whether that's Bush's global warming targets or technology). By then people would have forgotten and lost interest (like those queuing up for flying cars for the last 30 or 40 years).

    NAND flash was first shipped in 1988 but only got cheap enough to be used on a grand scale (multi-gigabytes) in consumer devices since 2005 or so. That's an 17 year ramp-up. Likely NAND flash was in the controlled lab stage a few years before that and it is based on relatively sound technology.

    Ferrous RAM, bubble memory,... the tech highway is littered with breakthrough technologies that didn't make it. Call back when you have something promising.

  22. Aubry Thonon

    Re: DNA still unbeat then


    Please make a difference between states, members and permutations.

    For example; a 2-member, 3-state system will allow for 9 permutations (AA, AB, AC, BA, BC, BB, CA, CB, CC).

    The Human DNA doesn't have 10^600million members or states, it has a pool of 10^600million *possible permutations*. In other words, you cannot store 10^600million bits of information on a DNA strand, but you can store *one of* 10^600million permutations.

    I can't remember what the number of actual "bits" are on a DNA, but since it is a four-state system (GATC) then it's probably X in the equation 4^X=10^600million.

    Mind you, since it is a four-state bit (instead of a two-state bit), we can probably store two binary-bits per DNA-bits.

  23. Anne van der Bom


    Boy, you really don't understand math

  24. Tony Barnes

    @AC "Oxymoron"

    Erm, nature is rammed chock full of nanotechnology - it's where a lot of inspiration for manufactured stuff is coming from, particularly for locomotion.

    Just because it's called a gene, flagella, enzyme, etc, instead of a reverse-gated-nano-flux-neutrometer, doesn't mean that it's not doing things at a molecular level....

    Agreed, this sort of storage for an iPod seems ridiculous - that is until we've mastered city scaled holographic movies that we want to carry about with us. Imagine how ridiculous a Blu-ray disc would of seemed back in the days of 5 1/4" floppies..

  25. Anonymous Coward

    <Insert Titel>

    No one will ever need more than 100tb of space on a single drive!

    (Feel free to use this quote in 10 years time)

  26. JasonW

    Third time lucky

    ok - you have the 0.32nm right - that is 0.32 billionths of a metre

    micro = millionth = 10^-6

    nano = billionth = 10^-9

    0.32nm = 320 picometres - 320 *trillionths* of a metre

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