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Improving Racetrack Memory with Sound


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With the various components in our computers, there are a number of places that slowdowns can occur because some hardware simply operates slower than the rest. For a long time magnetic hard drives would hold back loading times, and while Flash-based SSDs have accelerated things a lot, they are not without faults. Now researchers at the University of Sheffield have discovered a means to improve racetrack memory, a possible future memory solution.

Like traditional hard disks, racetrack memory stores data magnetically, but the medium is tiny wires instead of physical disks. The data is moved along the wires, like cars on a racetrack, for reading and writing, but moving the data requires magnetic fields or electric currents. While these options work, they take more power than is desirable, but the Sheffield researchers have found a new solution. It turns out that surface acoustic waves can also move the data, and the direction the data moves can also be controlled by the frequency of the waves.

Sound waves like this are being used in electronics already, but this is the first time they have been used as part of a memory system. As surface acoustic waves can travel for several centimeters before decaying, it is conceivable that they could be used to affect large arrays of racetrack memory, moving a lot of data very efficiently.

Source: University of Sheffield

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