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New memory promises low power drain

Power-hungry computer chips could soon be a thing of the past

Solid-state disks are all very well when it comes to adding an extra few minutes to laptop battery life, but how about a new kind of memory that can almost eliminate power drain?

Japanese researchers have found a new way to store the zeroes and ones that make up digital data that has the potential to vastly reduce the power needed to write to computer memory.

Switch flipping

Current disks use electromagnets to switch between the two possible binary states – this requires electricity every time anything has to be written to memory.

Now, instead of using magnets, the scientists have been able to alter the state of memory by directly addressing the electrons inside the storage material.

No magnets

They achieved this by skipping the magnetising stage and applying a small electric field to the semiconducting storage, thereby cutting out most of the power consumption.

For now, the work is still in its early stages and not complete, but the breakthrough could revolutionise the way our computers hold information and how long they can run on battery power.