Researchers at IBM's Almaden lab have developed a new type of memory that operates in three dimensions, according to an announcement. Termed "racetrack" memory, it is composed of U-shaped nanowires, which are aligned perpendicularly to a chip and work as a shift register.
While information can only be read or written at the base of the wire, the remaining space in its shape can be used to store and shuffle bits, thanks to minute pulses of electricity applied to the tips. In a finished racetrack chip, numerous wires would be built next to each other.
The density of racetrack memory is said to be well beyond that of current solid-state flash offerings, to the extent that even a two-dimensional version of it would be an improvement. Racetrack chips could also be as inexpensive as regular hard drives, while retaining the speed and reliability of flash. The major remaining obstacle is heat, which can sometimes corrupt data or even damage the wire.