Even the highest density hard-disk drives use approximately 1 million magnetic atoms to store a single bit of information. IBM’s Almaden Research Center (San Jose, Calif.) has measured the ability to store a bit on a single atom, portending hard drives with ultra-high storage capacity. Simultaneously, IBM’s Zurich Research Lab has demonstrated a molecular switch that could replace current silicon-based chip technology with processors so small that a supercomputer could fit on a chip the size of a speck of dust. IBM’s claims its atomic-scale demonstration promises to pack up to 1,000 times as much information on a hard disk than current technologies. Such hard disks could store 30,000 full-length movies on a device the size of an iPod.
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