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Researchers have devised a way to build memory from graphene

Storage in today's computers is based on rotating magnetic platters or flash memory. Both of these mediums work well, provide large amounts of storage and have been around for a while now. Some scientists don’t believe that flash is the future for storage in computers and electronic devices. In fact, the future of storage could be based on something kids use every day at school -- pencil lead or graphite.

A team of researchers at Rice University has found a method of creating a new type of memory from a strip of graphite only 10 atoms thick. Graphite is the basic element in the new type of memory. The scientists describe in a paper published in the online journal Nature Materials a storage device that utilizes the conducting properties of graphene. A large clump of graphene is better known as graphite, something school kids doodle with everyday.

Rice professor James Tour says that graphene memory would increase the amount of storage in a two-dimensional array by about five times. He says that this massive improvement is due to the individual bits being able to be made smaller than 10 nanometers. By comparison, circuitry in your average flash memory chip today is 45nm. Another big benefit of graphene memory is that switches can be controlled by two terminals rather than the three terminals used in flash memory today.

The two-terminal capability is important because it provides the capability to make three-dimensional memory practical since the very thin graphene arrays can be stacked, multiplying the storage capacity of the array with each graphene layer.

Storage arrays using graphene will be mechanical devices at their core and as such, the chips will consume very little power. Much lost power in flash storage comes from leakage; graphene memory will need little power leading to less leakage while keeping data intact. Graphene memory has a massive improvement in on-off power ratio compared to current memory technologies.

Tour said in a statement, "It’s (power savings) huge — a million-to-one. Phase change memory, the other thing the industry is considering, runs at 10-to-1. That means the ‘off’ state holds, say, one-tenth the amount of electrical current than the ‘on’ state."

Tour explains that current tends to leak from an off that is holding a charge. He says, "That means in a 10-by-10 grid, 10 ‘offs’ would leak enough to look like they were ‘on.’ With our method, it would take a million ‘offs’ in a line to look like ‘on'. So this is big. It allows us to make a much larger array.”

Another benefit of graphene as a storage medium is that while it puts off little heat, it is able to operate in a very wide temperature range. The researchers have tested the system to minus 75 to over 200 degrees Celsius.

Performance of graphene-based systems is impressive, the researchers say that the new switches are faster than the lab's testing equipment can measure and they promise long life as well. "We’ve tested it in the lab 20,000 times with no degradation,” said Tour. “Its lifetime is going to be huge, much better than flash memory."

The processes uses graphene deposited on silicon via chemical vapor deposition making for easy construction that can be done in commercial volumes with methods already available says Tour.



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RE: Mechanical devices are for kids to...
By Gzus666 on 12/19/2008 11:51:16 AM , Rating: 2
Roughly to say the least. On top of that this adds complication and more moving parts to fail, not something most companies want. Mechanical drives are dying, let them go.


RE: Mechanical devices are for kids to...
By Schrag4 on 12/19/2008 1:41:45 PM , Rating: 2
I'll "let them go" when the alternative is more reliable, faster, and cheaper (per GB). I don't have money to burn after all. (Apparently you do...)


RE: Mechanical devices are for kids to...
By Gzus666 on 12/19/2008 1:46:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'll "let them go" when the alternative is more reliable, faster, and cheaper (per GB). I don't have money to burn after all. (Apparently you do...)


What the hell are you talking about? Of course you wait till they are viable, that is what research is for. You also didn't factor in failures into your equation. If you are a major company and have large amounts of mechanical hard discs writing and reading most of the time, you will have failures on mechanical drives frequently.

On most solid state technologies, this is no longer a large issue which will save money in purchasing all those drives. Don't think so one dimensionally.


RE: Mechanical devices are for kids to...
By whiskerwill on 12/19/2008 1:57:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What the hell are you talking about?
He's probably talking about your inability to express yourself clearly. When you say to "let them go" in regards to hard drives, what else can you possibly mean besides for us to stop building and buying them?

But in your strange alternate reality, "let them go" seems to mean, "lets keep buying them but research alternatives also".

By the way, you're also wrong about failures. Unless you're doing nothing but reads, hard drives are still more reliable per bit than flash memory.


RE: Mechanical devices are for kids to...
By Gzus666 on 12/19/2008 2:55:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
But in your strange alternate reality, "let them go" seems to mean, "lets keep buying them but research alternatives also".


Let them go means let them go. They are GOing away, that is where you LET THEM GO. Whether they go away immediately or 5 years from now, you don't cling to them as they start to go. As the one guy commented, he says we should keep them and just tweak them. That is silly.

quote:
By the way, you're also wrong about failures. Unless you're doing nothing but reads, hard drives are still more reliable per bit than flash memory.


Show some actual stats or you are pulling it out of your ass. Are you telling me a 15k RPM SCSI drive has the same service life as a 7200RPM SATA drive? Also the idea of dual heads was brought up, which would compound failure rates in an attempt to match the speed of solid state. Start factoring in heat and you have more to worry about.

Hard drive throughput is a large limiting factor for a lot of operations, it needs to be addressed and they are doing just that with solid state.

Moving parts in computers need to go away and they will slowly but surely. We should be embracing that fact, not fearing it.


RE: Mechanical devices are for kids to...
By whiskerwill on 12/19/2008 3:24:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Show some actual stats or you are pulling it out of your ass.
Google "wear levelling" for all the information you need. You can write the same bit to a hard drive hundreds of millions of times. Flash is way behind this.

The "Bad Thing" about moving parts is they wear out. But if you're doing heavy writes, flash memory is more of a "moving part" than any hard drive ever thought about.

If you're doing almost all reads, or you're in some extreme shock environment, flash is much more reliable, yeah. But conflating "moving parts" with "bad" isn't always true.

quote:
Let them go means let them go. They are GOing away, that is where you LET THEM GO.
Ok I give up. The information content of that statement is zero. Maybe English isn't your native language or something.


RE: Mechanical devices are for kids to...
By Gzus666 on 12/19/2008 3:49:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Google "wear levelling" for all the information you need. You can write the same bit to a hard drive hundreds of millions of times. Flash is way behind this. The "Bad Thing" about moving parts is they wear out. But if you're doing heavy writes, flash memory is more of a "moving part" than any hard drive ever thought about. If you're doing almost all reads, or you're in some extreme shock environment, flash is much more reliable, yeah. But conflating "moving parts" with "bad" isn't always true.


Flash is not the only option for this, I thought that was the point of these technologies? We know flash has it's downfalls, that is why all this money and time goes to these other technologies. Solid state doesn't indefinitely mean flash. I'm not really sure why you make this comparison as the article is about future tech, not what we currently produce.

quote:
Ok I give up. The information content of that statement is zero. Maybe English isn't your native language or something.


That is because it was never directed at you, ignore it. I never asked for your opinion on it as it was directed to be within the context of his statement. He wants to hold onto mechanical hard drives forever cause he understands them better, I said let them go. Move on, it isn't that big of a deal, you are blowing it well out of proportion.


RE: Mechanical devices are for kids to...
By whiskerwill on 12/19/2008 3:57:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Flash is not the only option for this,
Its the option you said was "more reliable" than hard drives. I showed you that's not always true.

quote:
He wants to hold onto mechanical hard drives forever cause he understands them better
What he actually said was "I'll stop buying as soon as something better comes along". What was your native language again?


RE: Mechanical devices are for kids to...
By Gzus666 on 12/19/2008 4:25:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Its the option you said was "more reliable" than hard drives. I showed you that's not always true.


I said solid state, not flash. Solid state is quite broad and does not specify one of these technologies, you were the one that decided flash was the topic and I refused to follow.

quote:
What he actually said was "I'll stop buying as soon as something better comes along". What was your native language again?


Please quote where he said that, as I see it nowhere in his post.


RE: Mechanical devices are for kids to...
By whiskerwill on 12/19/2008 4:36:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I said solid state, not flash
Lol, you're pathetic. I said "hard drives are more reliable than flash if you're writing a lot". You accuse me of pulling facts out of my ass, then when you're proven wrong, you pull this? I'd be angry if I wasn't laughing so hard.

quote:
Please quote where he said that, as I see it nowhere in his post.


Sure. He said, "I'll "let them go" when the alternative is more reliable, faster, and cheaper". See it now?

For those of us who actually speak English, that translates to "I'll stop buying when something better comes along".


By Gzus666 on 12/19/2008 4:52:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Lol, you're pathetic. I said "hard drives are more reliable than flash if you're writing a lot". You accuse me of pulling facts out of my ass, then when you're proven wrong, you pull this? I'd be angry if I wasn't laughing so hard.


You chose to argue flash, I said solid state. Sure, you are right for flash, so? That isn't the topic of the article. I said show some stats or you pulled it out of your ass, which is essentially true. Everything requires proof, get over yourself. To get mad over someone asking for reference is childish.

Also the point still stands that mechanical hard drives are more likely to have catastrophic failures from mechanical parts breaking, something solid state does not have these mechanical downfalls. Add in the suggested head and you have added significant point of failure. If you want the drive to match something solid state for performance, you will have to take a lot of failure risk.

quote:
Sure. He said, "I'll "let them go" when the alternative is more reliable, faster, and cheaper". See it now? For those of us who actually speak English, that translates to "I'll stop buying when something better comes along".


I have a feeling we were talking about different people, I was mainly referring to rudolphina or whatever his name is. Also I agreed with waiting till something matching those variables happens. I thought that was the point of this article to show that something viable was coming.

Either way if this or IBM's technology comes through, it would mean time to phase out mechanical. The original poster I was referring to seemed to think we should just keep using them forever since they are easier.


RE: Mechanical devices are for kids to...
By Schrag4 on 12/19/2008 5:46:50 PM , Rating: 2
Soooo.....I'm a few days away from building a new system. What drive would you suggest I put in this thing? I want 500+ GB, and I don't want to spend a lot (probably 900 for the whole system, OS included, gaming machine). Should I get 2 250GB SSD's for 700 bucks each? Or should I get a 1 TB mechanical drive for 100 bucks? In one post you ridiculed me, saying I should "let them go" (mechanical drives), but I bet you'll tell me to go with the mechanical drives.

...and here's kinda my point. If I were a BUSINESS and I needed 1 TB of RELIABLE storage, I wouldn't buy 4 of the SSDs for a grand total of 2800 bucks. For the same cash I could get 28x1TB drives and choose whatever kind of redundancy I want, statistically making them a FAR SUPERIOR choice (when it comes to reliability) when comparing to SSDs. I wouldn't "let them go" just yet, as you suggest we all should.

FYI, those prices are at NewEgg


By Gzus666 on 12/19/2008 5:48:44 PM , Rating: 1
Agreed. That wasn't my point. You had an agenda, I had an agenda and it would appear we missed each other.


RE: Mechanical devices are for kids to...
By darkfoon on 12/19/2008 6:55:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Show some actual stats or you are pulling it out of your ass.


It's common sense. A flash chip has a set number of writes before it will fail. A magnetic harddrive will write until it mechanically fails. For example: I have a flash drive (not an SSD) that has 20 megabytes dead on it. I have written and deleted so much data in the 2 years I've owned it that 20 megabytes worth of it's storage capacity is broken. Compare that to the harddrive I've had in my computer since 2000 which doesn't have a single bad sector and I have written many more times the data to it than the dinky flash drive.
Granted bathtub curves factor into this. Most harddrives don't last that long. I consider myself lucky. But the fact remains that over the same amount of time, I could write and delete data on my harddrive many times more than I could to a flash drive. I am leaving reads out of this comparison because they do not wear out flash.

Also, heat isn't as much as a factor as you think it is. Several months ago there was an article on Dailytech about research done at a University that suggests heat has very little to do with the life-expectancy of a harddrive.

I am not supporting your position nor am I denying it. Yes, mechanical harddrives will be eventually replaced... When the prices can be affordable for average individuals. DVD was available YEARS before it became common. But DVD players cost $10,000 dollars and DVDs were certainly quite expensive. But consumers went along happily with VHS until DVD came down in price.
I imagine that mechanical harddisks may eventually take the place of tape-based storage in the future. Harddrives can hold more than tape, and if left powered off and are protected from elements, they will survive longer given that they don't need to be unwound/rewound like tape to keep the tape from becoming brittle. Also, I've never heard of a rat chewing a harddrive, but I did work for a business that, at a critical moment in time, discovered they had a rat problem when they went to restore a tape backup and found it destroyed.
The only thing tape has for it, is that tapes are cheap to manufacture.


By Fritzr on 12/19/2008 9:32:16 PM , Rating: 2
Adding to the argument against "let it go" ... Holographic drives with capacities starting at 300GB per disc and scheduled to go to at least 1.6TB per disc are available to buy today. Given that they are on the market, then it is time to let CD, DVD & BluRay go the way of the 8" floppy. After all everyone can afford an $18,000 optical drive that is the future of storage, snd the older formats are now obsolete.

Or perhaps we can let this much larger storage per disk, with greater stability of media, rest for a while longer while we still use dinky 50GB-200GB per disk DVD variants or, for us Stone Age geeks, DVDs and CDs for backup and USB flash drives as floppy replacements.

Holographic Versatile Disk (HVD) standard approved June 28, 2007 with possible 3.9TB disks as part of the standard.
(not yet available though)
Wiki entry
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holographic_Versatile...

Inphase Holographic Storage Planned to go to 1.6TB over the next 3 to 4 years
Wiki entry
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/InPhase_Technologies
ZDNet article & video (April '08)
http://blogs.zdnet.com/storage/?p=313
Where to buy your InPhase 300r 300GB Holographic Disk Drive today!!! (Pricing may vary ... the $18,000 was April '08)
http://www.inphase-technologies.com/wheretobuy/def...


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