Reverse the Polarity! Spin Flip Technology Boosts RAM Speed


Rambus hoped to make strides with its RDRAM technology, and while it never did take off, it's only a matter of time before a new technology shakes up the random access memory market. Engineers and physicists from Germany think they'll be the ones to do it and have demonstrated what looks to be the quickest prototype yet of an advanced form of RAM, one which challenges the fundamental speed-limit for the process.

Called magnetoresistive random access memory, MRAM uses a faster and more energy efficient version of today's modules, which store a digital 1 or 0 as the level of charge in the capacitor. By comparison, MRAM stores the same information by changing the north-south direction of a tiny magnet's magnetic field, with each variable magnet positioned next to one with a fixed field. To read the stored value, a current runs through the pair to discover the direction of the variable magnet's field.

There are different types of MRAM technologies, and the one most manufacturers are hedging their bets on is called spin-torque MRAM, which involves spinning electrons to flip the magnetic fields. In what could see the technology emerge in as little as just a few years, German researchers have now built a spin-torque system from tiny pillars just 165nm tall that looks to be dramatically faster than any other. The top of the pillar acts as a variable magnet that stores the data, with fixed magnets occupying the bottom. When a current passes through, the electrons reach the pillars' other end and flip the variable magnet region's field to match.

NewScientistTech has much more on the topic, and we want to hear what you think about the emerging RAM technology by posting below.

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