Proceedings of the IEEE

Magnetic Racetrack Memory: From Physics to the Cusp of Applications within a Decade

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Racetrack memory (RTM) is a novel spintronic memory-storage technology that has the potential to overcome fundamental constraints of existing memory and storage devices. It is unique in that its core differentiating feature is the movement of data, which is composed of magnetic domain walls (DWs), by short current pulses. This enables more data to be stored per unit area compared to any other current technologies. On the one hand, RTM has the potential for mass data storage with unlimited endurance using considerably less energy than today's technologies. On the other hand, RTM promises an ultrafast nonvolatile memory competitive with static random access memory (SRAM) but with a much smaller footprint. During the last decade, the discovery of novel physical mechanisms to operate RTM has led to a major enhancement in the efficiency with which nanoscopic, chiral DWs can be manipulated. New materials and artificially atomically engineered thin-film structures have been found to increase the speed and lower the threshold current with which the data bits can be manipulated. With these recent developments, RTM has attracted the attention of the computer architecture community that has evaluated the use of RTM at various levels in the memory stack. Recent studies advocate RTM as a promising compromise between, on the one hand, power-hungry, volatile memories and, on the other hand, slow, nonvolatile storage. By optimizing the memory subsystem, significant performance improvements can be achieved, enabling a new era of cache, graphical processing units, and high capacity memory devices. In this article, we provide an overview of the major developments of RTM technology from both the physics and computer architecture perspectives over the past decade. We identify the remaining challenges and give an outlook on its future.


01 Aug 2020


Proceedings of the IEEE