IBM researchers have just revealed a new storage memory breakthrough that has the potential to speed up machine learning and access to the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as mobile phone apps and cloud storage. For the first time, scientists have demonstrated reliably storing three bits of data per cell using a new memory technology known as phase-change memory (PCM). While memory types span from DRAM to hard disk drives to flash, over the past few years, PCM has become quite popular in the industry as well, due to its combination of read/write speed, endurance, non-volatility and density. The experimental multi-bit PCM chip used by IBM scientists is connected to a standard integrated circuit board. For example, unlike DRAM, PCM doesn't lose data when powered off, and it can endure at least 10 million write cycles, while an average flash USB stick tops out at 3,000 write cycles.
America's nuclear arsenal depends on a surprising relic of the 1970s that few of us may recall: the humble floppy disk. It's hard to believe these magnetic, 8-inch data storage devices are what's propping up the most fearsome weapons humanity has ever created. But the Department of Defense is still relying on this technology to coordinate key strategic forces such as nuclear bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles, according to a new government report. The floppy disks help run what's known as the Strategic Automated Command and Control System, an important communications network that the Pentagon uses to issue launch orders to commanders and to share intelligence. And in order to use the floppy disks, the military must also maintain a collection of IBM Series/1 computers that to most people would look more at home in a museum than in a missile silo.
Big data may hold a world of untapped potential, but what happens when your data set is bigger than your processing power can handle? A new algorithm that taps quantum computing may be able to help. That's according to researchers from MIT, the University of Waterloo and the University of Southern California who published a paper Monday describing a new approach to handling massively complex problems. By combining quantum computing and topology -- a branch of geometry -- the new machine-learning algorithm can streamline highly complex problems and put solutions within closer reach. Topology focuses on properties that stay the same even when something is bent and stretched, and it's particularly useful for analyzing the connections in complex networks, such as the U.S. power grid or the global interconnections of the Internet.
Flash memory is being drawn into the mainstream of enterprise storage, but its tendency to deteriorate with use remains an Achilles' heel. A paper released at the Aug. 9 start of the Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara, Calif., finds that machine learning can counteract that deterioration and drastically extend its life cycle. The paper was written by Tom Coughlin, president of Coughlin Associates (PDF), a solid state consultant in Atascadero, Calif. He is also general chairman of the summit. The paper was sponsored by NVMdurance, a Limerick, Ireland, firm that is applying machine learning in the software it creates for managing solid state devices.
The Pentagon coordinates the US' nuclear weapons – using a floppy disk, as it turns out. A new report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that the country's department of defence is still using 1970s-era computer systems that require the original eight-inch floppy disks. Floppy disks became obsolete by the late 1990s as CDs started to be widely used. The report said: "Agencies reported using several systems that have components that are, in some cases, at least 50 years old. "Department of Defense uses eight-inch floppy disks in a legacy system that coordinates the operational functions of the nation's nuclear forces.