'Super computer': B.C. scientist creates energy-efficient computer memory
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Wednesday, April 12, 2017 6:45PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, April 17, 2017 3:29PM PDT
A Vancouver Island chemist has invented a breakthrough material that will make computers and smartphones faster, more durable and more energy-efficient.
The new material, made from technology known as light induced magnetoresistive random-access memory (LI-RAM), uses light instead of electricity to store and process data.
“You’ll be able to store a lot more data on a cellphone, on a computer, it will be a lot thinner,” said Natia Frank.
The University of Victoria materials scientist developed the item as part of an international effort to reduce the power consumption and heat produced by modern computer processors.
“It really is the holy grail of computing,” CTV tech analyst Carmi Levy said. “This could be the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.”
Overheating won't be an issue with the LI-RAM because the light system could produce almost no heat.
“If you can design something that uses light instead of electricity and runs much cooler, you can make designs that go much faster,” Levy said. “Which basically means a super computer in your pocket.”
To make it even more revolutionary, the technology is also a lot greener.
The university estimates information communication technologies currently use about 10 per cent of the world’s total electricity, LI-RAM would cut that energy consumption in half.
“If you can reduce the energy reduction, that amount of power used, which this material does dramatically, you can have a huge impact on the environment,” said Green Centre Canada’s Andrew Pasternak.
Frank is working with international electronics manufacturers to optimize and commercialize the technology, and says it could be available on the market in the next 10 years.