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IBM and Stanford researchers focusing on Spintronics

Posted on Tuesday, April 27 2004 @ 19:25:59 CEST by

IBM and Stanford have launched a joint research centre to focus on a nanotechnology named "Spintronics". These could one day put an end to the delay when turning on your computer, IBM claims.
Spintronics involves use of the spin property of electrons--tiny particles in atoms that produce electricity when flowing through a conduit. Controlling the spin of electrons within a computer's CPU, the chip that provides processing power, is how researchers hope to create the fast-loading computer as well as other enhancements.
The research will be done at Almaden and at Standford's labs. But both IBM and Standford researchers don't expect any commercial products based on this technology for five to ten years.

IBM said that most of today's electronic research focuses on electron's ability to carry an electrical charge. By focusing on electron's ability to spin new breaktroughs in chip design could be researched.
The new design involves stacking layers of material, two or three atoms thick, to control the spin of electrons as they travel through the layers. Among the benefits would be the creation of magnetic random access memory.

RAM is where the computer loads the software needed to run when the machine is turned on. It's this process that takes time. In addition, when the computer is turned off, everything in RAM disappears, which means the process has to be repeated.

Magnetic RAM, on the other hand, would remain on, even when the computer is shut off, which means computer-launching software would be saved. As a result, turning on a computer would immediately take it to its previous state.

"RAM is volatile, which means if you shut down the power, then the information is gone," the spokesman said. "What spintronics allows you to do is set state through electron-spin interaction, so (the chip) doesn't need power to keep the information."

In addition, magnetic RAM won't leak power like the RAM used in today's computers. Because of power leakage, computers have to constantly reload RAM with the software needed to keep the machine running.

"It's like having a leaky bucket, and you have a faucet on to keep the level of water the same," Ross said. "The power is like the faucet. You have to keep it on as the power leaks out."
For instance a laptop will be able to run longer on its battery if this inefficient power usage is altered to a more efficient one.

Source: Information Week



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