has launched a research project that aims to develop a new type of magnetic memory (MRAM) chip.
The research is being conducted with TDK
, a Japanese specialist in magnetic and optical storage.
MRAM chips use a magnetic charge to store data. A pair of magnetic strips are placed together, one with a constant polarity and one with a polarity that can be altered by way of an outside charge.
A positive or negative charge on the plate is then used to interpret the '1' or '0' in a binary system.
introduced the first commercial MRAM chip in 2006, which holds 512KB of data.
Because MRAM does not require a constant flow of electricity, the technology is attractive to manufacturers as a non-volatile form of storage.
But IBM believes that the current method of providing the current to the magnetic cells is too inefficient and limits the capacity on the chip, making it far less practical than current Flash chips.
To solve this problem, IBM and TDK hope to develop a write system which uses a phenomenon known as the 'spin momentum transfer effect'.
This system would use the momentum generated by spinning electrons to polarise the magnetic cells.
The companies claim that this will allow for MRAM chips to become sufficiently dense and energy efficient to be a practical alternative to Flash chips in devices such as smartphones and ultra-mobile PCs.
MRAM chips are one of several new storage concepts being examined as an eventual replacement for Flash.
IBM and Intel
are currently researching another form of non-volatile memory, known as phase change chips, which toggle the material state of an alloy to represent binary information.