back to article Magnetic memory boffins unveil six-state storage design

Memory could be getting an upgrade beyond the two states used in binary, as researchers have designed a magnetic element with six stable magnetic states, according to a paper published in Applied Physics Letters. The researchers from Bar-Ilan University in Israel and New York University in the US found that by arranging a …

  1. joe_bruin

    A bit off

    6 magnetic states does not equal six bits.

    1 bit can encode 2 values (0 and 1), and 6 bits can encode 64 (2^6) values. This one cell can encode 6 values. It is a 6-level cell. Four such cells can be used to encode a single byte, as opposed to 8 binary cells required

    1. JeffyPoooh

      Re: A bit off


      "New magnetic storage technique gives six bits per memory cell"

      Yep. Six states is about 2.5849 bits worth.

      To store 6 bits requires 64 states.

      Headline is incorrect.

    2. John Geek

      Re: A bit off

      actually, three.something cells. 6 states is about 2.5 bits (log2(6)), and 3 such cells have 6^3 states.

      512 bytes is 4096 bits, which encodes a total of 131072 states, so 6 states at a time, you'd need 1585 cells instead of 4096 binary cells (or 2048 4-state TLC style cells)

      1. JeffyPoooh

        Re: A bit off

        John Geek "...4096 bits, which encodes a total of 131072 states..."

        4096 bits covers 2^4096 states, which is a 'somewhat' * larger number than 131,072.

        * About 1.04438888... x 10^1233.

        Had to breakout Wolfram Alpha as the MS Calculator thought that the answer was 'Error'.

        1. Ben Liddicott

          Re: A bit off

          Works for me on both Windows 7 and Window 10 calculator, both of which use an arbitrary precision arithmetic engine. I believe that's been the case since Vista.

          What are you using? XP?

          1. JeffyPoooh

            Re: A bit off

            "...MS Calculator..."

            Right you are. My bad...

            I spelled "iOS Calculator" incorrectly.

            Thank you for correcting my brain fart.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A bit off

        3.094822.. cells...

        6 states is ln(6)/ln(2) bits (easier to calculate using natural logs as they're on most calculators)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A bit off

      The problem of using comments to alert about errors instead of the "tips and corrections" link - the headline is correct, you're now wrong ;-)

      1. #define INFINITY -1

        Re: A bit off - tips and corrections

        @AC that was a bit more than a typo though. And I think some of us reading such an error here will wonder, "is it just me?"

  2. TonyK

    A six-state memory element? Oh dear.

    It's us programmers that will bear the brunt of this. It will give a new meaning to the term "hex number". All those years I spent learning my 16-times tables! Polydactyly will become something to put on your CV.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: A six-state memory element? Oh dear.

      I work in a school. The view outside the window is to a wall of "times tables" for the various numbers from 2 to 12.

      So I added, in our window, the hexadecmal timestables. It blows the children's minds.

      1A * 1A = 5A4.

      So, at least our next generation stand slightly more chance... :-)

      1. Alan Mackenzie

        Re: A six-state memory element? Oh dear.

        If you please, 1A * 1A is NOT 5A4. It is 2A4.

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: A six-state memory element? Oh dear.

          Agreed. Typo on the numpad.

      2. The Sod Particle

        Re: A six-state memory element? Oh dear.

        When I was at school (back in the 80's) we were taught hexadecimal mathematics, and octal and binary, perhaps because of the burgeoning computing industry. My 14,16 and 19 year old daughters have no idea that other bases exist...

        Definitely helped when programming my spectrum :)

  3. JeffyPoooh

    Article would be improved...

    ...By adding the word 'Magnetic' at the very start.

    Magnetic memory could be getting an upgrade beyond the two states used in binary...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought the article was going to be about logic that wasn't just binary. It was mooted a while back that it would be powerful in solving fuzzy data problems.

    1. JeffyPoooh

      Fuzzy Logic

      Presumably you were thinking of Fuzzy Logic.


      Fuzzy logic can be implemented with binary numbers (e.g. 0-255) representing values processed with fuzzy logic. No need for bespoke hardware to hold fuzzy bits.

      Fuzzy bits taken to the limit is analog circuitry.

  5. King Jack

    My brain hurts

    After reading the above, I need to lie down a while to try to digest this.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: My brain hurts

      "It'll have to come out, then!"

      "My brain? Out of my head?"

      "Yes! All the ... bits of it!"

  6. Baldy50


    You lot are confusing me somewhat, the article says that with three crossing ellipses and two states for each if the electron spin is to the right or left means 0 or 1 for each overlapping region, so six distinct states, how are the crossing ellipses read? region 1 (1) region 2 (0) region 3 (1) or variants on the 3 states they could all be 1 or all 0 ? But it's only 3 binary values depending how it can be read surely, if they can read the states on the 3 variables at the same time that’s different.

    Could enough regions be read at once to give a direct instruction instead of decoding the separate bits of information to give the instruction?

    Look before any of you lot start I'm just an electrician. OK!!!!!

    Regards, Ian. Have they got a smiley wearing a dunce hat?

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