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Boffins unveil 600Gb per inch non-volatile RAM

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US Navy scientists have managed to combine a hard disk and Flash memory to create a new solid state magnetic memory medium that provides instant access - or as near as dammit - to its non-volatile contents. And the capacity of the marvel of the modern age? "We anticipate we can put 400 gigabits (Gb) in a square inch," US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) solid state physicist Gary Prinz told the LA Times. That works out at 50GB per inch. Instead of transistors, the NRL system used microscopic stacks of magnetic hoops. The resistance of each hoop is determined by its magnetic state, which can be North or South, or as far as binary data is concerned, 1 or 0. Measure the resistance and you have a way of reading the Each hoop is used as a memory cell to store a single bit of data. Measure the resistance and you have a way of reading the bit. And because the hoops retain their magnetic state when the power's pulled, the cells retain their data. The technique isn't all that new - it first emerged in the late 80s, and various companies have been tinkering with it ever since. They have focused their efforts on maximising the effect of the magnetic material's resistance on its magnetic state. The NVL's breakthrough was to get the technology down to sub-micron - in other words, of a comparable size to computer chips - levels and to figure out how to use it to build practical memory systems. The Naval Research Laboratory is currently working with Minnesota-based Nonvolatile Electronics Inc. to get the technology up to production standard. Other companies have told Prinz there won't be any problems taking production up to the levels needed to make the technology a commercial reality, the LA Times reported. ® Related Stories US boffins develop molecular memory UK boffins unveil $35 '2300GB on a PC Card' RAM breakthrough

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