Researchers near data storage solution of the future

Swiss researchers have edged closer to developing CBRAM, a computer memory solution set to play a fundamental role in the future. Using an ultraprecise simulation, permitted thanks to the supercomputer Piz Daint in Lugano, they showed how computer memory could be smaller and use less energy.

Piz Daint
Image Credit: CSCS

CBRAMs (Conductive Bridging Random Access Memories) could play a fundamental role in storing data in the future. The technology allows near-permanent storage of data, explained the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) in a statement.

Scientists at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) have now succeeded in understanding more about the behaviour of storage solutions at an atomic level. Thanks to their findings, CBRAM memories could be rendered smaller and more energy efficient.

The ETH researchers created a numerical computer model of a CBRAM, which facilitates simulation at an atomic level. They demonstrated the optimal geometry of a CBRAM computer memory: an insulator of 1.5 to 2 nanometers thick, which equates to about 10 atoms.

However, machines capable of achieving such small dimensions are currently ill suited to mass production, explained the researchers. For their work, they deployed the supercomputer Piz Daint, which is located at the Swiss National Supercomputing Center (CSCS) in Lugano.

The computer is the world’s third most powerful and can perform up to 20 million billion operations per second. Despite these enormous operational capabilities, the simulation took “several hours”, according to the researchers.

This type of study requires 230 state-of-the-art graphics cards, explained the statement. Piz Daint has more than 4,000, each with its own CPU processor. 

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