Non-Volatile RAM, a Reality
This is just something I stumbled upon a while ago, and its very interesting. A company named Compu-Technics developed a new type of memory titled, "Quantum Optical Ram". It uses a fucused laser beam, and a solid state storage device to create memory at densities of up to 6.4GB (Gigabytes) per mm cubed. Thats right, 6.4 Gigabytes in 1 cubic millimeter (This is the max, they are using half that density in products now). That allows for nearly limitless storage for something the size of a computer. The one thing that sets this apart from other types of memory is that its cycle speed is so fast that it can be used for RAM in a computer and nonvolatile storage at the same time.
To give you an idea of the density:
Thats a quantum memory card the size of a usb plug.
Right now, its usage is limited to 2 laptops that the company showed off at CES this year (They won top awards in their division by the way). They also have working prototypes of connection devices that use their product, such as usb adapters, and memory cards (not sure if the cards are working).
What I am getting at is that this type of memory is ideal for PDAs. The one downside to a pda is that large amounts of ram are both expensive, and volatile. For this reason, they have to be supplemented by ROM to store the OS, and some have flash to store other programs, but most people use flash expansion. If this Quantum memory ever made it into a handheld, it would be the end of our memory worries. They could put enough memory into a PDA in the space that the RAM currently takes up to make it rival most laptops, and you would never have to worry about RAM, ever. Non-volatile RAM also means that it will use alot less battery, because no part of the storage system needs constant power. It will likely be a long while before this makes it into PDAs, but keep your hopes up, and for now, some links to more information on the technology.
Link to the howstuffworks article where this is featured
Link to the Atom Chip website (contains more info on the technology)
I was planning to cut the article off here, but right before publishing, two articles popped up on very similar technologies. IBMs version is called Millipede technology, and though it appears to have a higher density than Quantum RAM, it does not appear that it can be used as RAM. The second technology is made by Hitachi, and is called perpendicular recording. Its just an improvement on the current method of hard drive storage. The Hitachi Technology will let us see 4 platter drives with 1TB, and microdrives with 20GB. The IBM and AtomChip technology will allow much larger jumps in storage. In otherwords, you are likely to see two really steep jumps in storage technology in the near future. The first will be moderately large, to multiple TB hardrives, and the second will be huge, enabling us to fit nearly unlimited amounts of data in small amounts of space. You will see the Hitachi drives first, and if all goes well, the Quantum RAM and Millipede technology will follow, not necessarily in that order.