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Mechanical Memory Switch Development

Several people, including Roland and Patrick, have pointed out that physicists from Boston University have fabricated nanomechanical switches which promise significant advances in data storage densities (to much greater than 100GB/in2).

The technology for these high storage densities is great but the problem is they are doing it with E-beam lithography which has never been an inexpensive manufacturing technology.

There is also the problem that the press release saying that current data storage devices are read at the kilohertz rate. My hard drives, which are 7+ year old IDE and SCSI drives, read data at megabytes/second rates so this sounds like the person responsible for the press release doesn't really understand how data storage technologies work. Can anyone figure out what they are talking about here?

Finally, if what they have are real "switches", then how close are we to building a rod-logic like computer that could capture Part 2 of the Feynman Grand Prize? Given the current detailed specifications one probably could produce 32 devices using E-beam lithography and capture the prize but one might have a situation like the X-prize where it cost more to do it than the prize award amount was.

3 Responses to “Mechanical Memory Switch Development”

  1. tylorsama Says:

    kHz read rate

    I think the hard drive read rate of kilohertz applys to the frequency with which each individual bit can be interogated. Hard drives spin at kHz rates, and each bit can only be read when it passes under the read heads. Thus, kHz interogation rates. The nanomechanical switch does away with the moving parts the current magnetic hard drives are dependent on, and the frequency of interogation can be much higher. It seems a bit like a throw-away comment really. I'm not sure how it compares to the read rates for RAM or ROM, which have much lower information density. If the speed is comparable or better, nanomechanical memory might take the place of both RAM and hard drives. I'll save technical comment until the paper is published tomorrow in applied physics letters, but with the quoted "Angrstom scale" displacements, I'm a bit skeptical that these would hold their state without at least a very tiny trickle of power.

  2. Metzen Says:

    Drive Densities

    I'm quite certain that the densities and performance we'll see in the next 3 or 4 years will be staggering to us by todays standards.

    I remember about 4 or years ago putting a 4 GB hard drive in a system and thinking "Wow, you could never fill that up!". And now my desktop computer has nearly 400 GB in it!

  3. rebelpoettl Says:

    Because of the method of technology used to create these nanodots I think that it will be more than 3 or 4 years before we see nanodot hard drives. At least at a price the average consumer can afford.

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