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IBM's Racetrack to replace hard disk, solid state technologies

IBM invented the original hard disk drive back in 1956 and in a few years' time, a new Big Blue invention called Racetrack could replace it altogether.

The technology works by storing data within minuscule magnetic boundaries - or as they call then domain walls - and has been hailed as the heir to both the solid state memory technology and the ageing hard disk drive, which still uses the same technology as tapes.

IBM scientists have used a newly discovered phenomenon dubbed Spinstronics where bits are stored by the magnetic spin of electrons rather than the traditional storage of charges.

Racetrack could evolve within a few years from being a proof of concept to a generation of storage devices which will mark the end of contemporary storage devices.

The team behind Racetrack is headed by Stuart Parkin, the same fellow scientist who introduced us (and the rest of the storage industry) to the Giant Magnetoresistive (or GMR) technology, which made it possible to cram more storage capacity per unit area than ever before.

Ultimately, IBM will be able to pack up to 100x the current amount of information on hard disk drives into storage components that are non volatile and hopefully, at least as quick and as cheap as the current generation.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.