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Light-based memory chip that permanently stores data


London: A team of British scientists led by an Indian-origin professor has developed the world’s first entirely light-based memory chip to store data permanently that can help dramatically improve the speed of modern computing.

The new device uses the phase-change material — the same as that used in rewritable CDs and DVDs — to store data.

This material can be made to assume an amorphous state, like glass or a crystalline state, like a metal, by using either electrical or optical pulses.

The team has shown that intense pulses of light sent through the waveguide can carefully change the state of the phase-change material.

An intense pulse causes it to momentarily melt and quickly cool, causing it to assume an amorphous structure; a slightly less-intense pulse can put it into an crystalline state.

“This is a completely new kind of functionality using proven existing materials,” said professor Harish Bhaskaran from Oxford University’s department of materials.

“These optical bits can be written with frequencies of up to one gigahertz and could provide huge bandwidths. This is the kind of ultra-fast data storage that modern computing needs,” he noted.

Today’s computers are held back by the relatively slow transmission of electronic data between the processor and the memory.

“There is no point using faster processors if the limiting factor is the shuttling of information to-and-from the memory. But we think using light can significantly speed this up,” Bhaskaran explained.

For the study, the material scientists at Oxford University worked in collaboration with scientists at Karlsruhe, Munster and Exeter universities.

With this device, “we could read and write to thousands of bits at once, providing virtually unlimited bandwidth”, explained professor Wolfram Pernice from University of Munster.

The team is working on a number of projects that aim to make use of the new technology.

They are particularly interested in developing a new kind of electro-optical interconnect, which will allow the memory chips to directly interface with other components using light, rather than electrical signals.

The paper was published in the journal Nature Photonics.


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South Korean Tech Giant Samsung Expects Weak Q1 Earnings Over Chip Prices

Samsung said earlier that it will propel technology innovations to tackle the unfavourable business environment and foster new growth drivers, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and 5G

To get ahead in the fast-changing tech industry, Samsung said it will expand investment in burgeoning tech segments to propel growth. Wikimedia Commons

Samsung Electronics Co said on Tuesday that it is expecting weaker-than-predicted business results for the first quarter due to a sharp decline in memory chip and panel prices.

The major smartphone maker is scheduled to release its preliminary first-quarter earnings early in April.

“Due to worse-than-expected business conditions, we expect January-March earnings to remain below the market expectations,” Samsung said in a regulatory filing, Yonhap news agency reported.

The world’s largest memory chipmaker said semi-conductors are expected to fall further by larger-than-expected margins due to weak demand, and prices of LCD panels are also struggling amid a supply glut.

Samsung Electronics traded at 45,250 Won on the Seoul bourse as of 11.12 a.m., down 0.55 per cent from the previous session’s close.

The earnings warning came amid weak chip demand from the smartphone market and the protracted trade war between the US and China.

Galaxy S10 is the only smartphone that has a hole in OLED display itself. Pixabay

Although sharper-than-expected decline in chips may have dented the tech firm’s bottom line, analysts expect demand and chip prices to rebound in the second half of the year.

South Korean brokerage houses have sharply downgraded the first-quarter earnings forecasts for Samsung Electronics, citing tumbling memory chip prices.

The market consensus of Samsung’s operating profit for the first three months of the year stands at 8.33 trillion Won ($7.36 billion), down about 47 per cent from a year earlier, according to corporate tracker FnGuide.

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Analysts further painted a gloomy picture of Samsung’s earnings for the remaining quarters, saying their operating profits are unlikely to rise on-year.

Samsung said earlier that it will propel technology innovations to tackle the unfavourable business environment and foster new growth drivers, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and 5G. (IANS)