University puts British Library on a chip

A professor at Keele University in Staffordshire, England, claims to have invented a memory chip which can hold enough information to fit the entire contents of the British Library onto a single chip.

Ted Williams, emeritus professor of electronic engineering, has patented a solid state memory system which has a capacity of 86G bytes per square centimeter of surface area, said Mike Downey, managing director of Cavendish Management Resource Ltd., the company that has been contracted to handle all commercial aspects of the technology.

"It uses a magneto-optical system which is similar to the CD-ROM and can be used as computer and processor memory for credit cards and smart cards, among other things. There is enough capacity to fit 3.4T bytes of memory within the surface area of a credit card," Downey said.

The cost of producing the chip is estimated to be less than 30 pounds (US$43.60) per unit with the physical size (if the chip uses the computer's processor) measuring 3 centimeters by 3 centimeters, with a height of 1.5 centimeters, Downey said.

According to Downey, Williams and his team have invented four technologies to increase the capacity of computer memory. One patent has been already been granted for the technology that compresses text stored in binary form, and patent applications have been filed for other parts of the system, Downey said.

Downey estimates that the chip could be made ready for the market within two years. Though partners are being sought, Downey declined to name any companies that have expressed an interest in the memory system.

Keele University, in Keele can be contacted at +44-1782-621111, or online at http://www.keele.ac.uk/. Cavendish Management Resources, in London, can be contacted at +44-20-7636-1744, or at http://www.cmruk.com/. The British Library, in London, can be contacted at +44-20-7412-7111, or online at http://www.bl.uk/.

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