Linked by weildish on Tue 9th Dec 2008 16:49 UTC
Databases In an almost indiscernible and confusing article filled with various scientific terms that most cringe to hear, it was described how in October of 2008 scientists successfully stored and retrieved data on the nucleus of an atom-- and all for two short lived seconds. With this new type of storage, a traditional bit can now be both zero and one at the same time, but in order to understand just how this is possible, translate the article linked above to plain English. Data integrity returns after two seconds at 90% and storage is obviously impermanent, so there are many kinks to work out before atomic storage actually serves a purpose, but give these scientists a couple of decades, and it's theoretical that we'll one day have nuclear drives the size of USB drives today (or MicroSD cards, or why not even specs of dust?) that can hold hundreds of terabytes-- even pentabytes-- of information.
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JonathanBThompson
Member since:
2006-05-26

2 seconds data durability is not nearly as bad as you'd think, as long as you're not overly concerned with it being nonvolatile. If the power requirements aren't too bad, it can even be battery-backed.

Here's the thing: dynamic RAM needs to be refreshed every few milliseconds or some much shorter time (that's changed by some amount due to process shrinks and other minor things) and we've been getting along perfectly fine, even with those mild limitations, in terms of data storage reliability. Sure, it'd be nice not to have to deal with the time and power overhead of refreshing every so often, but that's the tradeoff needed for the physical space that that amount of data storage takes in a system, as static RAM, while faster and not nearly as fragile, requires a much larger amount of chip real estate, and costs a lot more to manufacture.

Reply Score: 3

renox Member since:
2005-07-06

I agree that 2s data durability isn't a big issue if it may be refreshed, but I noticed that the electron reading was correct only 90% of the time, so you'd need also to build quite a few redundancy mechanism to get better reliability..

Reply Parent Score: 2

JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

Yes, 90% correct is 100% wrong. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

I agree that 2s data durability isn't a big issue if it may be refreshed, but I noticed that the electron reading was correct only 90% of the time, so you'd need also to build quite a few redundancy mechanism to get better reliability..


2s data durability is neither here nor there as it's just a test system and the scientists working on the project fully expect to hold the data longer as R&R progresses (a possible data durability of years was a suggested projection).

Also, the 10% fall out was due to impure silicon-29 crystals (the electrons in the non-silicon-29 atoms "wobbling" the elections in the silicon-29 atoms to be a little more precise). Again, as R&R progresses this will be less of an issue.

Reply Parent Score: 2