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The Coolest Stuff Is Just Down the Road December 29, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Geek Stuff, Technology.
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Yesterday I was helping someone shop for a laptop and researching two different models. One of them was the Dell XPS M1330. It had two technologies that made for a lighter laptop with excellent performance. One was available at only a moderate price premium and the other really kicked up the price. The first of these was a display that is backlit by LCDs instead of a fluorescent bulb. It works well and provides for a thinner, lighter screen. The other is a SSD, a Solid State Disk. With current technology these drives are outrageously expensive and don’t provide as much storage as current disk technology. In the Dell a 64 GB drive added $900 onto the price when replacing the default 120 GB drive.

What’s interesting is that I just found a small article in PC World about a new storage technology called PMC, for programmable metallization cell. Looking online I found this slightly larger article on Wired. Basically this method of storage uses a new technology called nano-ionics to build a microscopic copper bridge between electrodes on demand. If a bridge exists it represents a one, no bridge represents a zero. The difference in capacity is mind-boggling, with a terabyte of memory in a thumb-drive like the one in my pocket easily doable. One of the researchers involved in the project said that the storage based on this technique should cost one-tenth the price of current flash drive and be one thousand times as energy efficient as current flash memory. So if this technology is applied to the kind of SSD in the M1330 it would be entirely likely that an amazingly fast SSD with storage in terabytes should be cheaper than current notebook hard drives. Very impressive. Imagine the speed of this storage for a media server. Or picture the giant libraries of film that can be stored much more readily in massive on-demand movie libraries. Me, I look forward to a really economical way to quit messing with tapes for backup since I just don’t trust them. And the first products are expected to show up in about 18 months. Tick. Tick. Tick.

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