back to article 'Infinitesimal magnetic tornadoes' set to ravage computing

Treasure this fine example of scientific press release bilge: "At the human scale, the tightly wrapped spinning columns of air in a tornado contain terrifying destructive power that ravages communities. At the nanoscale, however, closely coiled magnetic vortices hold the promise of a new generation of computers." These vortices …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "like describing the Mafia a charitable organisation."

    Perhaps you meant "like describing the Mafia AS a charitable organisation."

  2. Someone

    Silly names

    I can see the comedy potential for using the first letter of the base name followed by ‘its’. Base three would have been right up the Register’s street. Unfortunately, ternary (or trinary) digits appear to be called trits. This leaves us with the unflattering quatrits. After that, it most certainly should be quits.

  3. Quirkafleeg

    Two bits of storage?

    That makes it a two-bit storage device. Must be Maxtor…

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Worst. Pun Ever.

    "Will binary arithmetic have to call it qits?"

  5. Frumious Bandersnatch

    small earthquake in Peru...

    not many dead

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Please no

    We're already having enough security issues with binary storage and communication. Please do not add a whole new universe of issues to deal with.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    It all sounds a bit like an excuse-of-the-day calendat item to me really.... "No, no, we need to control the chirality by annealing the magnetic disk to an anti-ferromagnetic one" Yeah, that'll work.

  8. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Cue terrible Spooks plot...

    "When we first examined his computer, we only looked at the data stored in the memory cells polarity and it was clean. But when we went back and checked the chirality, we found.... this."

  9. Anonymous Coward

    stick to the playmobile

    Despite the obvious hyperbole of the press release (which deserved a ribbing); a potential doubling of storage capacity?

    I wouldn’t sniff at that with a teenage "yeah, right, whatever, we can hardly wait".

  10. Doug Bird
    Dead Vulture

    Why what?

    Quaternary digits aren't really that silly and whimsical. Living organisms have persisted quite successfully in managing the equivalent of terabytes of information in their DNA, which is stored in quaternary format. Or: ATGC.

    They could also be used in computing simply as multiple bits. Why would the computer need to know it bits were stored in quaternary format, so long as the data comes back whole?

    The anti-science bias at the Reg is even worse than the US Republican Party.

    Notice that The Reg is also a "Global Warming Skeptic". (Not to different from the anti-evolution/creationist/intelligent-design cousins)

  11. H

    Half a Nibble

    A "Peck" ? A "Chubbit"?

    Or is it Quaternary?

  12. greg

    Star Treak already done this

    I seem to remember in an episode of Voyager, they referred to an unspecified volume of data called a TeraQuad! Clearly they should call this new method a Quad, not a Qit!

    Man thats sad.

  13. Eddie Edwards

    No, guys, really, WTF?

    First off, I know you're trolling Pascal - that was funny.

    But Doug, come on dude! The tone of the article was due to the comparison between little magnetic thingies on tiny discs and huge fucking rip-your-house-to-pieces-and-send-them-to-Oz tornadoes, not because (for instance) Flash memory doesn't use multibit cells, because it does (oh, and <ahem> DNA too of course). Anti-science? Hardly.

    Good to see the author's bullshit detector is still working because Ted's failed in the cold weather on Monday.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ AC 09:56

    Doubling of storage capacity !

    What were those logarithms your maths teacher wasted time teaching you about do you remember?

  15. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    They're huge!

    At 1 micron across, these discs offer roughly 1 terabit per square metre, which isn't going to change how *anybody* looks at storage.

    However, if you can stack them vertically (say, 100 per millimetre) as well, you could stuff 10-100 gigabits into a 1cm square by 1mm deep flash device. That is sufficiently competitive that we'd like to know what the reading and writing times were like.

    Of course, this is a lab experiment. In a few years it may be possible to reduce these things by an order of magnitude or two in linear scale (and speed them up). Then again, it may not.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tornados are dynamic structures ....

    ... these things merely contain static vortex-shaped magnetic fields.

    It would have been reasonable to describe them as infinitesimal magnetic *sculptures* of tornadoes.

  17. Stevie


    I expect IBM to announce they've had one of these that works better for years, at the cost of having to keep it in liquid helium 24/7.

  18. Justin

    Things That Are Round

    Ok, so the real science is a little interesting, but it still sounds played-up.

    "We stuck a plastic plate to a magnetic one and it allowed us to control the field states better."

    "We now have 4 possible states per storage cell, but because it's so tiny and fiddly it'll still be 1 bit, with protection against data corruption."

    "We know it's less of a 'tornado' and more of a 'donut', but the marketing guys really wanted to name the next storage line Tornado so here we are."

  19. Paul


    They're all words (except for qits being spelled different) up to dits:

    Mits, bits, tits, qits, pits, hits, sits, nits and dits.

    Then there's:

    Mytes, bytes, tytes, qytes, pytes, hytes, sytes, nytes and dytes.

  20. norman

    Seagate involved?

    Let's hope the firmware is not created by Seagate.....

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