Overheard: Word of the Day

Nov 1 2007   5:43PM GMT

Overheard: Programmable Metallization Cell Memory

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

michael_kozicki.jpg “All the current limitations in portable electronic storage could go away. You could record video of every event in your life and store it.”

Michael Kozicki

There was a re-run of Dallas on today that had JR Ewing making a call from his car. He was wheeling and dealing on this big brick that was connected with a heavy pigtail to a box that sat between his bucket seats. It reminded me of the day we got our first minivan.

The minivan had a car phone. It sounds silly even to say “car phone” now. We pretty much spent the first day entertaining the kids by pulling into friends’ driveways and letting the kids call.

“I’m calling you from the car and we’re in your driveway — look out the window! See me? I’m waving!”

It was a dollar a call, but it was worth it. Boy, that was an exciting day.

That was twenty years ago. Now you see kids in third grade watching DVDs in the car as Mom drives them to Cub Scouts. That need for mobile technology is why Hulu is going to succeed.

Those kids are going to want to watch the latest Simpson episode on their cell phones and the little portable DVD players kids are using now are going to be as clunky as JR Ewing’s car phone.

Having all that video at your fingertips is going to require a lot of memory. And flash is pretty much hit its limit with the iPhone.

I predict the next disruptive technology is going to be ion memory. The technical name is Programmable Metallization Cell memory. It’s nanotechnology that’ll give you a terabyte of storage on a thumb drive.

Alexis Madrigal explains: Programmable Metallization Cell memory stores information in a fundamentally different way from flash. Instead of storing bits as an electronic charge, the technology creates nanowires, from copper atoms the size of a virus, to record binary ones and zeros.

The key enabling technology for the memory is nano-ionics, a field that focuses on moving and transforming positively charged atoms. In PMC memory, the charged atoms, or ions, are harnessed by applying a negative charge, which transforms them into copper atoms lined up to form nanowires.

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