On March 8th, 2017, IBM announced a great advancement in storage size and capacity: the ability to store information within a single atom.
Specifically, it means the ability to have a single atom read as a “1” or “0” within a traditional magnetic hard-drive. In previous years it took several hundred thousand atoms to store the same amount of information, and chances are that’s how your current hard drive works.
According to the researchers themselves, it’s also quite unlikely that we’ll see to-the-atom storage in consumer products anytime soon, thanks to the very extreme conditions required to pull off this amazing feat.
What this means for you?
What this really means for the consumer is that the limit of what is possible has been pushed. While the next advance in storage won’t see this in consumer’s hands, it will mean that manufacturers and engineers the world over will have research and results that will fuel experimentation to create smaller storage with larger capacities than what we have now.
Every time the limits of technology are stretched, more possibilities are exposed in the consumer market. Right now large consumer hard drives top off at 10TB. On the lower-end, 3TB HDDs are now at the same price that 1TB drives were less than five years ago. With this new-found theoretical limit of single-atom hard drive storage, where will we be in the coming years?