IBM Millipede

Data Storage









In summer 2002 - year in the popular press about the computer were a lot of noise about the unique nanomechanical design, done by researchers from the Swiss unit of IBM. Millipede (literally centipede) - the so-called miracle machine, fit crystal on silicon area of several square millimeters. Its main feature - the ability to store unimaginable dimensions for their tiny amounts of information: theoretically, Millipede can store per square inch to one particular plastic terabyte of data! The figure itself is impressive, but to an ordinary person is better able to imagine the magnitude of accomplishments, the creators of nanodrive offered the following analogy: using technology underlying Millipede, at the site, equivalent to the average postage stamp, you can save 25 DVD-ROM drive. As such density has been achieved? The developers attracted Millipede old idea, implementing it on a new technological level.

Indeed, the device and develop the revolutionary principle IBM cool to remind those that are widely used in Computer Science from 70 - the last century. In these punched cards (cardboard sheets) made the holes, encode small - hundreds of bytes - of information. "Modernized version of the" first of all different magnitude: "holes" in the "card" Millipede measured units of nanometers in diameter. However, the earliest consideration devotes a lot of other distinctions. Thus, the holes in reality - only deepen in plastic and "Burn" is a matrix of thousands of miniature with a small finest needles. The tip of each of them can warm up to temperature of 400 degrees Celsius - touching a needle to the working surface of a vehicle leads to the emergence of plastic and drink (fossa). Much in the same way organized and reading the data: needles heat until slightly lower temperatures and, on the degree of cooling special sensor that is enshrined at the end of a needle, electronics determines whether a given place or deepening surface smooth. Complementing the picture framers Millipede and pointed to the possibility of overwriting data by mashing drink.
Then, however, Millipede project was purely laboratory with a mass of restrictions that are still to be circumvented and it was not known whether this could be done. And one of the main problems was low speed read / write, is only a few kilobits per second. Since then, almost three years have passed and today I am pleased to inform you that the project is not closed and work on it finally led to the first visible result. In these spring reminisce at IBM stands at the exhibition CeBIT, held in Germany, demonstrated among other things, and the current drive prototype, based on technology Millipede.

The device brought to the Blue giant CeBIT, is a miniature fee h17.5h1.2 with dimensions of 16.5 mm. Dimensions chosen not by chance - this form of cards SecureDigital, and that is equipped with a drive interface. The main component of it - nanomechanical chip, which occupies a significant portion of the card. It hidden working matrix, now numbering 4096 needles (64 x64) and MEMS-specific mechanism that moves in two dimensional sheet of plastic that plays the role of media itself. Needles have a length of 70 micrometers and capable (their separate moves electrostatic MEMS-activator) in diameter extruded drink only 10 nanometers. It is through this prototype specialists IBM and demonstrate the feasibility of the idea of nanoperforation, and its practical suitability: density recording (more than one terabyte per square inch), good speed data transfer, high reliability. Admittedly, Millipede today differs from the laboratory of his ancestor, above all it is practical suitability. Each needle in the matrix can now work in parallel with other, or whatever (read, write or erase) - is allowed to reach "an acceptable speed read / write" (unfortunately, I find the exact numbers were unable). The structure of MEMS-activators such that external vibrations do not affect the accuracy of positioning and not to hinder the work of the device. Finally, actually demonstrated more than 10 thousand cycles record-erasing.

Despite the obvious successes, Millipede development team has yet to solve many problems. So, today because of the limited capacity MEMS-activator, move under the plastic sheet matrix is used only a small portion of the sheet. Therefore, talk about Terabyte capacity drives to only aiming at the prospect. According to the creators, to make Millipede in the commercial product will take at least another two years. Just then expected exhaustion of physical capacity flash memory chips - and nano-mechanical drives will be a good continuation: Two years ago expected, and today confirmed that Millipede will be able to oust and replace the "flash", while offering comparable power and unmatched dimensions informational capacity. Most likely the first device will Millipede-card format SD, 100 GB capacity.