New method to record and encode computer data could help save energy in crypto mining
Mining cryptocurrencies is energy-intensive. Because of this, many ways of dealing with this problem have already been proposed like using energy efficient miners and reverting to staking as a less wasteful alternative. The high cost of electricity in some areas means it is harder for cryptocurrency miners to earn an adequate passive income, especially when market prices are down considerably.
High energy costs also affect data centers in mining with regards to pool mining, in which miners combine their mining power to mine Bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies. Energy is consumed both when miners are solving energy-intensive tasks, when miners or data centers need to be cooled down following their heating up during peak work times.
Nevertheless, all of this could change following the invention of a way to record computer data using magnets, at faster processing speeds, and at virtually zero total energy costs. If this new method is used in the creation of magnetic memories inside of hard drives, then computer processes could be very less energy intensive.
In an ordinary data encoding process, tiny magnets called spins are oriented inside magnetic hard-drives or magnetic readers in other drives, in order to encode data. The head reader is then used to read the information which was previously recorded magnetically. During the latter process, a huge amount of energy and thus, electricity is consumed in the retrieving of information.
In this new method, short pulses of light (one trillionth of a second) concentrated in special antennas placed on top of a magnet, are employed as an alternative to electricity in inducing spins or changes of the state of the small magnet required to record data magnetically. The method is super fast and the temperature of the magnet does not increase at all. The scientists from Lancaster University, Regensburg University, Radboud University and Russian Academy of Sciences demonstrated the new method by pulsing a magnet with ultrashort light bursts using terahertz infrared waves. Even the strongest terahertz infrared light cannot produce strong enough pulses that could alter the orientation of a magnet.
When these spins and a terahertz electric field are coupled, also a method discovered by the team, the orientation of a magnet is switched and very fast. The team then added a small antenna placed on top of a magnet in order to concentrate and enhance the electric field, and this field is able to navigate the magnetization to its new orientation in one trillionth of a second. Each spin in the new process requires only one quantum of the terahertz light, i.e., a photon.
Further research is already being carried out regarding the use of this new ultrafast laser, together with accelerators in order to generate intense pulses of light to be used in the switching of magnets and to determine the practical and fundamental speed and energy limits of magnetic recording.