Memory breakthrough could enable faster, cheaper tech (Wired UK)


Cohen


Engineers have found a way to store multiple bits of
data on a single cell. The discovery could help speed up our
favourite gadgets as well as making technology smaller and cheaper.

Researchers in advanced
materials and bioengineering
at Trinity College Dublin said the
“multilevel memory” allowed them to reduce the total number of
cells required and speed up the amount of time it takes to read
data. The new technology can also set the number of memory levels on a cell by cell basis, giving it
extra flexibility.

Conventional on-chip memory stores information in
binary but this takes time to read as a large number of cells are
used. The project was lead by professor John Boland with the help
of researchers Curtis O’Kelly and Jessamyn Fairfield.

“The discovery opens up a host of possibilities for
the consumer leading to smaller, cheaper and faster electronics,”
explained professor John Boland from Trinity College Dublin’s Amber research centre.

Boland said that the “clunky” language of binary code
created bottlenecks due to the amount of time it takes to read
data:

“For example, 2014 in binary language requires 11
cells of memory. It takes time for the computer to access such
a large number of cells and so the overall performance is impaired.
The new process reduces the number of cells required.”

The team have already demonstrated six memory levels per cell
but they’re aiming to up that number. Despite developments the
technology is still some way off finding its way into computers, phones and tablets.
The next step for the research is to look at how it can be
integrated into current manufacturing processes.

The demand for smaller, faster data is leading to some exciting
scientific developments. Earlier this month researchers at
University of Glasgow announced that they had found a way to use individual molecules as a conventional for transistors. The
synthesised molecules could eventually replace conventional
data-storage components and enable huge amounts of data to be
stored in tiny flash memory units.

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28 November 2014 | 12:20 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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