Up The Tubes

Would you like a terabyte of much faster, static (doesn’t need electricity to keep remembering) memory in your computer? Your music player? Your TiVo?

Here’s a company that wants to give it to you in a few years. They figure to have mere gigabyte or so modules for sale in a year or so.

This is a different kind of memory. It’s not silicon but carbon-based. Like us. Really, it’s a bunch of tubes, buckytubes. OK, billions and billions of very, very tiny (one nanometer diameter) tubes that go from one place to another with an electric charge very, very quickly, and stay there until they get another electric charge.

Right now, this memory can be read twenty times faster than current RAM, and they hope to get that up to a hundred times faster.

Here’s some articles about the company and the technology (some may require a subscription):

The Economist

Computer User

Neoelectronics Planet (though this interview is a bit ridiculed here.

There are other companies that are using different techniques, but they all think they can use lots of teeny, tiny bits to get you hundreds of gigabytes or terabytes, too.




What To Think?

Of course, it’s one thing to have Nantero or Rolltronics build it; it’s quite another to get Samsung and Micron to do the same thing.

But if one of these pan out, it would be hard to ignore.

For a start, what will we need hard drives for (except maybe for backup)? I could do very nicely with a terabyte of storage and leave everything in RAM, thank you. I could make do with a terabit (or 125 gigabytes), no problem.

That approach would rather increase performance (though not by quite as much in average operations as people might think). What it would do is eliminate many of the perceptible delays in desktop computing; the loading of files from the hard drive into memory.

Down the road, we might even see CPUs, not with an integrated memory controller, but intergrated memory. Five years from now, if the Nantero people are right, you could conceivably have a PIV-class CPU with 100Gb of RAM that wouldn’t be much bigger than a PIV is today. Get video intergrated into that, and you have a one-chip computer.

Something like that could fit inside your mobile phone (OK, maybe not the tiniest of phones, but not all too big).

Not having to boot up would be nice, too. Turn the machine off, and when you turn it back on, you’re back to where you were.

It doesn’t fit in very well with plans for DDR-II, but if any of these pan out at a reasonable price, that’s what you call a disruptive technology.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply