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Engineers Create 1TB Fingernail-Sized Chip

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 59 comments

NC State engineers created a new material that could provide 1 TB of storage in a fingernail-sized chip.

Imagine cramming 1 TB of data on a fingernail-sized chip. That's around fifty times the capacity of today's high-end silicon-based chips, and apparently engineers from North Carolina State University have mattered such a feat and developed a new material capable of handling incredibly large amounts of storage--the equivalent of 20 high-def DVDs--in an extremely small space.

The team of engineers was led by Jagdish "Jay" Narayan, director of the National Science Foundation Center for Advanced Materials and Smart Structures at N.C. State. According to this news release, the team made its breakthrough by adding an impurity to a material to change its properties (called selective doping). By working at the nanometer level, the engineers added nickel to magnesium oxide (a ceramic) and created a material with clusters of nickel atoms around 10 square nanometers in size.

“Instead of making a chip that stores 20 gigabytes, you have one that can handle one terabyte, or 50 times more data,” Narayan said. The new atoms are 90-percent smaller than the ones used today, and could lead to a boost in computer storage capacity, reduce heat produced by semiconductors, and enhance a vehicle's fuel economy by offering up to 80 miles per gallon.

80 miles to the gallon? How is this possible? It's all in the metallic properties dumped into the ceramics. Narayan said engineers could develop new engines using the new ceramic that could withstand twice the amount of heat endured by current engines. There's even mention of harnessing solar energy thanks to the thermal conductivity of the new material.

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  • 19 Hide
    mlcloud , October 23, 2009 9:34 PM
    A change in technology, rather than improvements in current ones... Smells delicious.
  • 10 Hide
    jecht , October 23, 2009 9:43 PM
    This sounds awesome! By the way, it should be "managed such a feat" instead of "mattered such a feat". Can't rely on spellcheck alone! And it might sound nitpicky, but you really should stop saying "apparently" so much. It makes you sound like you're not sure what you're reporting is true. Other than that I think you've gotten better, Kevin.
Other Comments
  • 1 Hide
    gorehound , October 23, 2009 9:29 PM
    yes by adding impurities to a substance and experimenting they have done an awesome job.cool tech news.
  • 4 Hide
    JAYDEEJOHN , October 23, 2009 9:32 PM
    If this pans out, whoever gets their hands on it first wins
  • 19 Hide
    mlcloud , October 23, 2009 9:34 PM
    A change in technology, rather than improvements in current ones... Smells delicious.
  • 10 Hide
    jecht , October 23, 2009 9:43 PM
    This sounds awesome! By the way, it should be "managed such a feat" instead of "mattered such a feat". Can't rely on spellcheck alone! And it might sound nitpicky, but you really should stop saying "apparently" so much. It makes you sound like you're not sure what you're reporting is true. Other than that I think you've gotten better, Kevin.
  • -3 Hide
    the_krasno , October 23, 2009 10:19 PM
    Fuck science fiction, the future happened YESTERDAY!
  • -3 Hide
    illegalnaut , October 23, 2009 10:28 PM
    sounds great if it ever goes main stream. there are a ton of cool techs that have come out, a big name company buys the rights and then sends it to a shelf so they can keep making more money. good case is the hydrogen engine, thats been around for quite some time and just now seeing the light of day in a car.
  • 1 Hide
    thub , October 23, 2009 11:05 PM
    Hmmm, typically reports of new silicon or flash storage technology include some kind of disclaimer that, "this technology is still 10 years away from practical applications," or somesuch. Now that I think about it, it seems to me it's always "10 years away." I wonder if the absence of such a clause was omitted on purpose. Hmmmm...

    And since it's a new material: Will it blend?

    Also, I love that this photo from the Jerk keeps showing up in Tom's Hardware articles. :-)
  • 3 Hide
    Greg_77 , October 23, 2009 11:11 PM
    I wonder if this well ever lead to something,or will it be like all those other promising technologies that lead to nothing.
  • 0 Hide
    MulaTerca , October 23, 2009 11:22 PM
    What happened to the memristore? It was expected to make a huge impact in the industry, but I've never heard anything again since late 2008.
  • 2 Hide
    apache_lives , October 23, 2009 11:29 PM
    1tb is great, what about performance to fill that 1tb? and reliability? although at that size even a semi-raid1 like on-chip design would cover that using 2+ chips etc aslong as costs are low
  • 7 Hide
    stuart72 , October 24, 2009 12:13 AM
    They haven't made a 1tb chip, they made a tiny amount of a nickel doped ceramic and characterised its spin properties. Big deal - another research group talks up a discovery to grab grants. As a researcher this type of unrealistic bs is tiresome, scientists are doing important research in many fields all over the world, but unless you can claim it will solve the world energy crisis, cure cancer and wash whiter at low temps it gets no recognition. I mean, come on, 80mpg 'cause the engine can withstand twice the heat of a standard cast iron block? We have ceramic materials that would do better that right now, they are just way to expensive and, looking at the methods used for synthesising it, so is this stuff.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , October 24, 2009 12:21 AM
    Do they manufacture it at 1nm then? (I mean,50 times more info than current silicon, which is fabricated at between 45 and 55nm theoretically should be around 1nm).
  • 2 Hide
    nachowarrior , October 24, 2009 12:26 AM
    so we'll see it in 40 years then?
  • 0 Hide
    JAYDEEJOHN , October 24, 2009 12:36 AM
    Ceramics do offer a higher combustion temp, getting more out of your fuel, as well as being lighter, and not having to have as large a cooling system throughout the engine design, which shrinks it further, reducing weight even moreso.
    The good part about this is the ceramic approach, as temps would no longer be a problem, dispersal would, but immediate units wouldnt need to worry about heat, and could go faster as well as smaller
  • 5 Hide
    wintermint , October 24, 2009 1:24 AM
    Now all we need is to find a way to not lose it ;) 
  • 5 Hide
    Drag0nR1der , October 24, 2009 2:30 AM
    So.... they haven't actually created a thumbnail sized chip.. it's just theoretically possible with this new material and from the wording it seems to imply they haven't actually created anything from it yet... could we plese dispense with the sensationalist headlines? We aren't some bunch of louts looking for a shocking healine before we turn to page 3.

    "New material could someday create false nails holding 1TB of storage" might have been an even better headline if you have to go with sensationalist ;) 
  • 1 Hide
    JeBuSBrian , October 24, 2009 2:47 AM
    Nothing like a blatant lie in the headline. Way to go Tom's, I didn't think it could be done, but you've gotten even worse!
  • 1 Hide
    Drag0nR1der , October 24, 2009 2:48 AM
    stuart72...... Big deal - another research group talks up a discovery to grab grants. As a researcher this type of unrealistic bs is tiresome......


    I can pretty much garuantee its not the researchers taling it up, its usually the journalists jumping off the deep end and making wild speculation from a few comments about 'possible uses' of the research... just look at the title of this 'news' item.
  • -2 Hide
    Honis , October 24, 2009 3:05 AM
    Wow, the only thing cooler than this is an Ion Engine being powered by it!

    I hope it turns out to be a faster seek time when used for memory. Imagine 8 - 16 of these on 1 stick of RAM... (assuming the pin interface changes to handle it, CPU socket style RAM modules anyone?)
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