computer chip

Personal Computers and Laptops made a huge jump in the last years, with 8-Core CPU’s, insane Graphics Cards with independent cooling systems and the SSDs. Now lets take a look at what researchers are preparing to replace the current SSDs with.


The SSDs (Solid State Drives) was a huge step forward in device memory, the reading and writing speed increased very much and it was a record. Now comparing SSD technology with old HDD (Hard Disk Drive) we see a huge difference and we can laugh on the slow speed of HDDs.  HDDs are very slow comparing to SSDs, all because it uses electronic chips to move data though and have moving components which reduces the speed drastically. SSD doesn’t have any moving parts, they are just same as SD cards but bigger and can transfer data at higher speeds.

Today the researchers from Oxford University in Germany Karlsruhe Institute of Technology had developed a revolutionary new type of memory chip that coul eliminate any speed limiting issues that today have the SSD drives. This actually means no speed limits.

Photonic Memory Chips

Meet Photonic Memory Chips, that actually are not new. Researchers are working on Photonic Memory Chips decades ago. These chips are light-based storage, and the only problem was that it would require continuous electricity in order to function and store data. Of course we cannot keep this chip always connected to the power source.

photonic memory chip waveguideFor the first time ever,  created such a memory chip that is beyond the barrier, the team from Oxford Institute of Technology used by rewritable CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray Discs to create a non-volatile photonic memory chips. This technology uses a waveguide to move light from lasers, germanium, tellurium  and anitnomy (GST) alloy nanocoating, GST is the material used in rewritable discs.

So a low-power laser can read the patterns created by the GST and translate it as data, basically it is more efficient than binary electronic storage. Researchers have been able to store 8 bits of data in a single location.

The goal was to implement on-chip non-volatile photonic memories, the words of researchers: “Photonic data storage would dramatically improve performance in existing computing architectures by reducing the latencies associated with electrical memories and potentially eliminating optoelectronic conversions. Furthermore, multi-level photonic memories with random access would allow for leveraging even greater computational capability. However, photonic memories have thus far been volatile. [Our solution demonstrates] a robust, non-volatile, all-photonic memory based on phase-change materials.

Before changing SSDs Photonic Memory Chips, there is a long way to markets, as different prototypes are being tested. Not all of them would have positive results and will be able to survive and to satisfy the customers. Researchers Bhaskaran and Pernice say the technology needed to commercialize their solution already exists though. They also admit that computers will be 100 times faster with the new Photonic Memory Chips.

Image (Flickr): Cwithe

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