Feeds

'Infinitesimal magnetic tornadoes' set to ravage computing

Calling it qits

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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 are described as "infinitesimal magnetic tornadoes."

Isn't that wonderful? Unfortunately, the things they're talking about aren't whirling vortices and calling them magnetic tornadoes is like describing the Mafia as a charitable organisation.

Scientists working at the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have found that the magnetism in a circular, micron-sized disk changes its characteristic when the diameter of the disk gets smaller than a certain limit. In that situation, the moment or magnetic state of the atoms in the magnetised material point either clockwise or anti-clockwise around the surface of the disk in what is called a vortex configuration. The direction is called the chirality (handedness) of the disk.

At the same time, the central area of the disk or core has a polarity which is said to be either up or down. This could be reliably controlled but not the chirality. Two materials scientists created a reliable way of controlling the chirality by annealing the magnetic disk to an anti-ferromagnetic one.

Being able to reliably alter and reproduce the chirality and polarity directions gives us four values: 0, 1, 2 or 3, corresponding to clockwise and anti-clockwise chirality and up or down polarity. In other words, it's a potential quaternary digit. Four values per magnetised area or element have got to be better than two, right? Should we call this a qit?

Here's where the scientists link to reality becomes a tad tenuous, because one of them, Mihaela Tanase, says: "This technology could change the way we look at how to store data electronically." Yeah, right. Maybe that was because the research was affected by a collaboration between Argonne, Seagate Technology and a university in Barcelona.

Are we looking forward to infinitesimal magnetic tornadoes whirling like tightly-wrapped spinning columns of air through the storage world and putting an end to decades of binary computation? Will binary arithmetic have to call it qits? We can hardly wait to find out. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Ellison: Sparc M7 is Oracle's most important silicon EVER
'Acceleration engines' key to performance, security, Larry says
Linux? Bah! Red Hat has its eye on the CLOUD – and it wants to own it
CEO says it will be 'undisputed leader' in enterprise cloud tech
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
Hey, what's a STORAGE company doing working on Internet-of-Cars?
Boo - it's not a terabyte car, it's just predictive maintenance and that
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.