Scientists from the University of Lancaster have created a new type of computer memory that could help deal with the digital technology energy crisis. The electronic memory device is capable of operating with ultra-low energy consumption and could play an important role in reducing the use of electricity by electronic devices.
With so many computers, gadgets, and ever-evolving technology, it should come as no surprise that our devices use up a lot of energy. By 2025, experts believe that data centers alone will consume a fifth of the electricity in the world. The new device seeks to reduce that number by up to one-fifth — by realizing a theory commonly known as Universal Memory.
“Universal Memory, which has robustly stored data that is easily changed, is widely considered to be unfeasible, or even impossible, but this device demonstrates its contradictory properties.”
By using quantum mechanics, scientists were able to combine stable, long-term data storage as well as low-energy writing and erasing of said data. The device has been equipped with an intrinsic data storage time that, according to scientists, should exceed the age of the universe. At the same time, it is capable of recording or deleting data while using 100 times less energy than Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) which is currently the industry standard for the working memory of computers. Researchers believe their invention could also one day replace the long-term memory found in flash drives.
Although DRAM writes data in a way that is low-energy and fast, it is not without its drawbacks. The data must be continuously refreshed, otherwise, it runs the risk of being lost due to its volatile nature. This causes a lot of energy to be lost in the process. On the other hand, there are flash drives. These are much better at storing data, particularly longterm, but the process of writing and erasing data is slow and wastes a lot of energy. Additionally, the data runs the risk of deteriorating from repeated writing and erasing, which makes it a poor choice when it comes to working memory.
Scientists have already patented their new invention, and several technology companies have expressed a noted interest in the future of this new computer memory. Researchers are hopeful that their invention may one day play a key role in helping to handle the looming digital energy technology crisis.