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3-D Memory May Revolutionize PC Data Storage 89

Lots and lots of people have turned us on to this story and this follow-up in The Register about a "three-dimensional memory system" that is supposed to pack up to "2300GB into a PC Card-sized device" and may cost as little as $30 to manufacture. Sounds great, but it's apparently still in the pre-vaporware stage of development so don't throw away your hard drives quite yet.
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3-D Memory May Revolutionize PC Data Storage

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  • Rather amusing. And if you didn't read the follow up, you shall be admonished.

    But those toilet-bowl brushes sure do sound cool. Can't wait to upgrade mine.

  • Wow, can't wait for that, hell, 2.3 TB (approx) of storage for $35 works for me. Oh, and I am REALLY waiting on the Intel Downstream processor. hehehhe, yeah, maybe they can get it out almost as quickly as they can ship merced...naaa, I'll stick with my alpha. BTW, for all you people who usually don't read the article, this and the followup are going to be ones you might want to check out.
  • Reads like an anti-gravity press release.

    The biggest problem there is right now in this field is moving from 2 to 3 dimensions. If someone were to come up with a method of moving waste heat out of the substrate and made the technology stackable, densities wouldn't be as much of a problem. There is some interesting optical reading of magnetic effects going on in some of the labs these days which should improve access times but this usually means that the 3rd dimension is needed for the optics (like heads over media). One thing that I think was played around with was vertical positioning with edge bonding as well as double sided dies but that never went very far in the 80s when I was involved (I was a wirebonder in a previous life, now it's all automated)
  • 100 meg wristwatches?! Oh mama...

    Think about those übergeeky Casio calculator thingies packin' a 100 megs (or was that migs? :D)

  • Of course going 3d is obvious, but they don't really
    give enough details other than 'magneto-optical' -
    what, 3 lasers and a field reading/writing bits in a
    cube of stuff? Maybe the next 'bubble memory' device?
    (anyone old enough to remember those?) I know a MO
    disk you have to buffer and rewrite a whole track just
    to alter one bit. Maybe a data access rate of 100Mbps
    but it takes 3 minutes to write? Who knows....

  • I mean this sounds too good to be true. And last time I checked, when something sounds like that, it has a good chance of being just that. On the other hand I have heard of rumors of 3D storage for some time...

    The question is, when will we have watches that act as personal HD's... If your within 5 ft of the computer, say... it could be automounted over an RF channel... "Quake. Never leave home without it."
  • And bubble you had to cycle through the entire buffer to replace a bit as well. As we use to say back then SSDD (same sh!t, different day). Still got a UV prom eraser too 8^)
  • Not $30 it's 35 pounds(sorry i don't remember the ASCII code :-( )

  • I work at the Physics Department at Keele University (the one mentioned in both press releases). We do have a Ted Williams working here, in the mechanical workshop. I think a certain postgrad in the Relativistic Quantum Mechanics group is having the rest of us on...
  • Anything scientific in the "Mail on Sunday" should be taken with a large pinch of salt. It tends to be read by ladies (I use the word advisedly) with blue rinses and husbands named Geoffery. Said ladies usually have an abiding belief in the omniscience of Margaret Thatcher and the place of menials in the home.

  • Well, they have all the news - the problem is to know which of them are true... But they are certainly entertaining ;-)

    Has it ever occurred to you that God might be a committee?
  • Wait till they invent storage devices that work in the 4th dimention (time)! Just think:
    "Professor invents 4 dimentional storage device. Coming to stores 20 years ago!"

    (looking for more storage space for all his prOn)
  • You don't need an ASCII code - can't you just type £ ?

    rightshift-alt-3 on a US keyboard (under Xfree86 anyway)


  • Yeah! Finally I can store all my knowledge into my PDA and have my brain surgically removed to create space for my experimental neural-interfaced GSM modem ;)
  • 256-bit 64-processor wearable -- the one that's integrated into my leather jacket, with the wireless 100 Tbps Internet connection and the little plastic tiara of electrodes for direct neural I/O. (paging William Gibson, white courtesy telephone, please...)

    "'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wish'd."

  • Looks a little like a Red Herring to me. Who was that guy who's invented 100 Gig harddrives that come in (badly retouched pictures of) pentium II cases? Doesn't want to reveal to much info until they have a patent, because you know, last time I checked, it was simple to whip up a new storage device from a few vague comments about physics ;)

    Hey wait, I think I'll patent 3D storage devices right now!
  • Well, they've had holographic memory out for a while now, but it has high seek times. The data throughput is impressive though. (page at a time read/write). The only commercial use I have heard of was fingerprint id machines. The potential for storage in a small space was great tho.

  • From

    A Quantum Jump in Memory Storage and Access

    Professor Ted Williams at Keele University, Staffordshire, England has developed a patented solid state memory system with the capacity of 86 Giga Bytes per square centimetre of surface area. The system uses a magneto-optical system not dissimilar to that of CD-ROM, except that the system is fixed, solid state, and has a different operating approach.

    The system has applications for computer and processor memory for credit cards and smart cards, and for high security bank notes, among many other uses.

    In computer memory format, the system has a capacity per sq cm in excess of 86 Giga Bytes of re-writeable RAM data - this equates to a memory capacity of 3400 Giga Bytes(3.4 Tb) within the surface area of a credit card! Data access time is around 100 Mb/sec. A single unit with this capacity, but using the computer's processor, has a physical size of about 3 cm x 3 cm x 1.5 cms (high). An additional advantage over existing data storage systems is that only 20% of gross capacity needs to be allocated for error correction, which is significantly less than the 40% for hard disks and 30% for optical storage. Production costs are anticipated to be less than £30 for such a unit.

    Patents have been granted for parts of the system, and patent applications have been filed for other aspects.

    The invention will have a major impact on the computer industry, giving even small palmtop computers the capacity of a mainframe! The effect on other industries will be equally significant - for example, televisions could have built-in solid state video recorders, wristwatches could have vastly more power than today's PC Computers. Implications for the security of financial instruments credit cards and bank notes - will be profound, as the high data-density substrate used can be put onto virtually every surface.

  • well, replace 256-bit with 64, leather jacket with fabric mesh, 100Tbps with 100Mbps, and forget the direct neural I/O (I wish) and that's my thesis. I'm starting in september...mmmm, Beowulf cluster in my underwear, hee hee!
  • Great, you've got the end all computing platform and nothing to plug it into.

    all dressed up and no place to go?

  • This reminded me of our old friends the American Computer Company [] who have been known to make similarly ambitious announcements [].

    Maybe CMR and ACC should collaborate on reverse engineering alien sanitation technology. If they're thousands of years ahead of us, they must have worked out how to clean a toilet by now.

  • Is it April 1st already?

  • I take it The Register is the UK version of The Onion?
  • Maybe CMR and ACC should collaborate on reverse engineering alien sanitation technology. If they're thousands of years ahead of us, they must have worked out how to clean a toilet by now.
    Assuming that aliens _had_ toilets to clean.....
  • C'mon guys. The Register is the Weekly World News of online journalism. Gimme a break already.
  • I do recall a small story about 5 years ago on a similar idea.

    It sounds like it was a different approach, but some researchers had come up with an idea that could allow over a terabyte of storage on a 'translucent' cube using technology similar to CD ROMs. The data could be accessed by moving lasers to different angles and positions on the surface.

    I'm guessing the research didn't pan out, because I haven't heard anything about it since then. But the principle of this story is the same as then: Packing data in three dimensions to allow much greater density.

    I think speculation on price and/or specs is premature, since its possible existence is still in question. But I think this kind of technology is inevitable, somewhere down the road.
  • Posted by Nr9:

    heh 100 Mbps is pretty slow
  • Nope,

    They have real news too - Their Microsoft Vs DoJ trial coverage is (IMHO) unsurpassed.

  • Oh, no - they (and a lot of others) see themselves as more-or-less serious. Much of the stuff on is true - the problem is that their philosophy seems to be "it's more important to have all the correct news than it is to have no incorrect news" and the result isn't hard to guess. All the signal is there - but so is most of the noise :-/

    It's also good to remember that they have a good sense of humor too - else it would be utter rubbish (now it's fun but you have to take care not to believe everything)


    Has it ever occurred to you that God might be a committee?
  • or is it that Win will need 2.3TB/CPU to boot..
  • Whoops, forgot that all-important power source. Did I fail to mention the combination of solar, biothermal, nano fuel cells, and mechanical generation from swinging my arms while I walk?

    I guess we're getting off toward quantum nanocomputing, though, aren't we? Sorry for the tangent.

    Come to think of it, wearing that leather jacket in South Carolina in August is gonna be murder...

  • Well...let me put it this way...

    You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villany.
  • While you might not enjoy the "tabloid-esque" style, the articles are usually one or more of the following:

    a) Technically accurate
    b) Interesting (did you read the stuff about Fab 30?)
    c) Entertaining
    d) Prescient (lots of pre-release info)

    And after all, you don't have to read any of it...
  • While you might not enjoy the "tabloid-esque" style, the articles are usually one or more of the following:

    a) Technically accurate

    b) Interesting (did you read the stuff about Fab 30?)

    c) Entertaining

    d) Prescient (lots of pre-release info)

    And after all, you don't have to read any of it...

  • OK, so one of the two links is a joke. Now all I have to do is figure out which one...
  • Not to be overly overly serious, but dimensions don't have a particular order.

    If I want to call time the first dimension, well there it is. X, Y, Z, and however many other dimensions we discover/invent will just have to wait their turn.
  • £35 != $35
    £35 > $35

    that's why you always feel like you're getting screwed if you order albums from other countries. :) Still, whatever the conversion rate is (I'm gonna take a random guess and say 2.5 dollars per pound, and that's prolly way off), $87.50 is a small price to pay for that ninja, if it ever comes to exist.
  • Let's make a bet...

    I'll bet you that if you were to approach these developers (read: venture capitalists) with a request for a demonstration of a working prototype, they would begin shuffling their feet and coughing nervously only to tell you that it's "in the hands of our testing department" or not being demonstrated due to "patent concerns".

    ...but you notice how they are already looking for investors? me too.

    I hate to be pessimistic (No, I don't...I lied) but it seems that there was this guy at one time who had a V-6 engine that ran on evian, and his scam sounded remarkably similar.

    I just need to see that their concept is based on good science before i start saving my pennies.

    And think about this: There is'nt a semiconductor firm in the known universe that would'nt be scrambling like little weasels to get their hands on a technology such as this...least they be put out of business. Suffice to say- I'm basing my judgement as to the validity of these claims on how those companies react. (And they ain't even twitching, people.)

    By the way...what happened to that guy who had the engine that ran on water? He's not returning my calls.
  • For those intereseted. . . .I was really surprised the register had $35 in the article title with the quote being £35!

    btw. . .my keycodes didn't work! I dunno, it would either bring up a Netscape composer (yes I am using communicator) with the 3 above the keyboard, or beep at me for the 3 on the keyboard. hrmph, thank goodness for cut & paste!
  • That kind of storage coupled with high speed internet access will hurt their feelings. Imagine having MP3s of all the music in your local Camelot and NRM in your pocket.

  • As of 5:10pm here in England, the Register seems to have pulled the story.

    Complete hoax then?

  • Given my calculations, this gives a feature size of 0.012microns. Seems pretty iffy w/ current tech.
  • This one may be vaporware, but there are some labs with really impressive 3D memory constructions. Problem is, they tend to have silver pipes built into the chip to carry away the heat, and other such features. EXPENSIVE!

    Well, that particular info is a few years old, but I suspect the principle holds up. You can't use liquid nitrogen, because the thermal stress cycling would quickly destroy your chips (maybe you could go with total immersion and a refer that automatically kept the LN at a good level?), etc. Not impossible, but too expensive to become common during the next 20 years.

    Still, someday... room temperature superconductors of heat! That'd do the trick!
  • more space for mp3's and p0rn! or maybe even p0rn mp3's!! and don't forget about **BEOWOLF**!!

    No offense intended, but does anyone else think that comment sounded like a semi bad Anime translation ala Final fantasy 7?
  • First of all, if they are talking about 3D storage, how come they keep refering to how much a cradit card surface will store?
    Pull out your credit card, if you have one. And if you don't, look at mommies. First take a look at the thing, wow, pretty small, right? Now, turn it on it's side, no, better yet, lay it down. Good. Notice how it sticks up off the surface of whatever you put it on. That's thickness. Now, stack 2 (if you can get them from daddy too) of them . . . still pretty thin, right? Keep going . . . oh, and file those bumpy names off of the cards while your at it . . . that will give you a more accurate representation.
    Learn something every day, don't ya?
    I'm still waiting for the 4D ram, or true 3D TV . . .
  • It's funny you should mention that... I remember an old (article/paper/written thingy) from DEC explaining the arrangement of data on a hard disk. IIRC, it said "...simply imagine the disk as a four-dimensional hypercube...cylinders, heads, sectors, tracks..."
  • Haha! Leave it up to a tech paper to suggest picturing something in 4 dimensions simplifies one's understanding of it. ;)
  • Seems someone stumbled upon some research into "holographic storage", read a couple of lines, and made a product announcement.

    That technology is far from new. It's been around for over ten years, and anybody on /. shouldn't even raise a brow. Currently--as for the last ten years--it's still at the research stage. The storage media are all kinds of exocic pure crystals. Data is stored in parallel focal planes, one bitmp of "pixels" at a time, by polarizing the crystal molecules. One "page" of data is written to an LCD display in the form of a bitmap, which is then projected into the crystal and focused onto a particular plane with optics. Readout occurs by doing the reverse: projecting one plane onto a CCD and reading off the individual pixels. The operation is inherently parallel, so depending on the size of each bitmap, you can be reading a whole lot of data at once. Essentially, the technology is similar to MO disks, but in 3D and in parallel.

    Currently the biggest holdback still seems to be the limited writing cycles these crystals can survive. Last time I read up, it was something like 1000 cycles, maybe they improved it an order of magnitude. Also, many researchers seemed to be targeting it not only as persistent storage, but as RAM replacement. Done right, it can offer access speeds many times above silicon RAM. Also, it offers the possilibity of purely optical parallel searches: the query data is written to the LCD, then projected into the crystal. Through interference patterns with matching data in the crystal, planes containing matches are found instantly without sequential searching. I only skimmed the theory on that one, so don't quote me on details.

    Anyway, all this theory comes from people who don't also claim improved toilet brushes. I don't know about the guys at Keele, but this stuff is for real. When it'll crop up at Wal-Mart is another question.

  • If they'd done it on April 1st, everyone'd have guessed!
  • Well, the article did say this was the densest storage ever...

  • what do you do after x,y,and z, go back to a?
    man's lack of foresight yet another problem.
  • After all, not too many other OS's can handle
    humongous drive and file sizes like BeOS. What's
    the max file size on BeOS again? Something like
    16 petabytes or something?


    Why are there so many Unix-using Star Trek fans?
    When was the last time Picard said, "Computer, bring
  • iTs funny all the things you can do with ASCII...



  • I saw something on TV recently (can't remember where), using an organic compound in a cuboid shape, and when you shine light of a particular wavelength and strength it's inter molecular bonding breaks. Apply an electric field and you rotate the molecule. I saw footage of an (approx.) 1cm X 1cm x 3cm cuboid attached to a PC expansion card.

    Using 2 low-power lasers they can choose a cluster of molucules.

    However, I'm not certain of the reliability of the report (I don't remember which TV station).

  • hmm.. all reminds me a little about tesa ROM. they found a way to store data on tesa adhesive tape, theoretically up to about 10 Gb on a single roll of average, every day adhesive tape. and to think that the guy just put in the tape as a joke, because they couldn't find anything that worked. Tesa has confirmed this research, I happened to ask for it only 5 days ago. if anyone wants, I can post the press statement, or you can ask Tesa for it.
  • Is this so-called 3D image storage device the same one the Industry Week Magazine mentioned several years ago?

    It is something about a quartz-like device, and the storing/retriving of data is through laser, and the data supposed to be stored in holographic images, something like that.

    If this 3D image storage thingy is the quart-zlike device, then it is certain _NOT_ a pre-vaporware thing.

    Industry Week magazine carried a short intro-article several years ago (sometime pre-1996!!!) and the thing may have been going through several years of development already.
  • Why not? He's got the room.
  • I dont know, but can we be assured that the data storage is even safe? If it gets gittered a little, will valuable data be lost?

    If something that small can hold that much data, wouldnt it make it very easy to corrupt data?

    My .02 cents.


If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?