A Future Filled with Unlimited Storage

Limitations in data storage are the only thing holding us back from iPods and personal video players that hold thousands of movies and hundreds of thousands of audio tracks. Hard drives break, and flash drives are slow.

Researchers at IBM's IBC research center in San Jose, Calif. have spent years developing a workaround they call "racetrack memory" that could change all that. Their data storage research was published last week in Science Magazine.

In "racetrack" data storage, data is moved around inside domains via magnets and electrical signals toward components that can interpret the nature of the data. This means data is moving quickly toward a processor, rather than a processor moving slowly toward data.

The end result? A memory device that can cold 100 times more data than current technology, while remaining cheaper than current options and less power-hungry. It will be years before the research discoveries translate into consumer electronics, but when they do, you can bet content owners will find ways to make big bucks off of music or video in bulk. Maybe your iPod will come with 500,000 songs pre-loaded, but you've only paid Apple enough to listen to 50,000 of them. -Rachel Rosmarin

Science Magazine