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IBM Research
Almaden's 20th Anniversary

Twenty Years of Innovation

May 31, 2006

IBM Research - Almaden Timeline

Almaden Milestones


Decision made to build new laboratory.


Construction begins.


Relational Database

Almaden Research Center dedicated.

Developed the Distributed Relational Database Architecture protocol and algorithms that allow databases to scale efficiently to very large sizes by adding more processors.


Developed the "query graph model" data structure that allowed DB2 to be extended to handle a wide variety of new data types.

First to propose "Fast-Write" for disk controllers.

First STM image of an organic molecule: benzene ring.

Developed the "Hagar" disk array, the first industrial RAID data-storage prototype.

Working with a thallium-based material, Almaden scientists report the highest superconducting transition temperature for a bulk material and thin film (125K).

First internet connection.

Xenon IBM on nickel

Developed the ARIES algorithm for recovering data efficiently and effectively from failures within the database system.

First to position individual atoms one at a time: I-B-M written in xenon atoms using an STM.

1 gigabit data-density magnetic recording demonstration.


Single-peak nuclear magnetic resonance seen in C-60 (buckminsterfullerene); first proof of the suspected symmetric, soccerball shape for C-60.

Discovered that the exchange coupling between two ferromagnetic films through a very thin non-magnetic metal spacer layer oscillates as the thickness of the spacer layer increases.

C-60 on gold surface imaged using an STM.


Single-atom switch created.

As an internal project, developed technologies for backup-restore and archive-retrieve functions for heterogeneous data that ultimately led to today's Tivoli Storage Manager product.


Single Walled Carbon Nanotubes

Quantum Corral created.

Introduced zoned recording with sector servo and No-ID sector format for efficient layout of information on the disk.

Discovered single-wall carbon nanotubes.


TrackPoint -- In-Keyboard Pointing Device

Invented the first data mining algorithms.

Published the first technical paper that links to a World Wide Web animation: a hyper-media file showing fracture-tip instabilities in a million-atom 2-D notched solid under tension.

Multilevel optical disk announced.

Developed the improved TrackPoint III pointing device (and then the TrackPoint IV in 1997).

Announced first spin-valve (GMR) head: world's most sensitive read head.

The Center on Polymer Interfaces and Macromolecular Assemblies (CPIMA) was established as a partnership among research groups from Stanford University, IBM Research - Almaden, and the University of California Davis devoted to the fundamental study of the interfacial science of organic thin films prepared from polymers and low molecular weight amphiphiles.


3 gigabit data-density magnetic recording demonstration.

Played a central role in the unification of two competing DVD formats.

Created the easy-to-use Chemical Kinetics Simulator. Now used worldwide in academia, industry and government, some 30,000 copies have been downloaded under a no-cost license.


Reliable method created for generating an infinite number of provably difficult problems, a capability useful in developing public-key cryptography.

Analyzed web-page-linking for the first time, leading to the concepts of hubs and authorities, advanced search technologies, WebFountain and other large-scale text analytics technologies and tools.

5 gigabit data-density magnetic recording demonstration.

ScrollPoint Mouse

World's first public-key encryption scheme created with a mathematically proven uniform level of protection.

Developed the ScrollPoint Mouse, which uses TrackPoint technology to enable easy and intuitive document and web-page scrolling.

11.6 gigabit data-density magnetic recording demonstration.


IBM Microdrive

IBM Microdrive -- the world's smallest disk drive -- is announced.

Proposed the concept of managing data over Ethernet using Internet protocols that would become the iSCSI industry standard.

Developed the General Parallel File System (GPFS), which large supercomputer clusters use to manage hundreds of terabytes and to read/write at several gigabytes per second.

Linked macro-, meso- and microscopic material dynamics computer simulations seamlessly to model the rapid brittle fracture of a 100-million-atom slab of silicon.

Using GPFS on part of the ASCI White supercomputer, one terabyte of random data is sorted in a world record 17 minutes, 37 seconds -- three times faster than the previous mark.


GMR: IBM's data-density world record

35.3 gigabit data-density magnetic recording demonstration.

Exploited our strengths in database and computational chemistry to create key technologies for IBM's DiscoveryLink product, a system for integrated access to life sciences data sources.

IBM's DB2 Universal Database shatters Windows NT scalability barrier with the industry's first-ever one terabyte TPC-D benchmark on Windows NT.


Quantum Mirage

Quantum mirage observed.

Developed optical device that efficiently shapes a Gaussian laser beam into a flat intensity profile and propagates great distances.

5-qubit quantum computer demonstrated by executing quantum "order-finding" algorithm.

Demonstrated holographic data storage density of 254 gigabits per square inch -- 80 times that of a DVD.

IBM awarded the National Medal of Technology for its leadership in developing and commercializing data storage technology.


Molecule used for Quantum Computing

IBM ships disk drives with new "antiferromagnetically coupled" magnetic media.

7-qubit quantum computer demonstrates Shor's algorithm by factoring 15.

Magnetic resonance force microscope measures world's smallest force: 820 zeptonewtons.

IBM ships the 200i that is the industry's first iSCSI storage controller, spurring the development of what is now a $500 million industry.

Information Integration, which uses advanced technologies to leverage existing data of all types, and enables real time integration across all data sources, is based on Garlic, is launched, creating a large business for the software group.

2002Image from Billion Atom Simulation

Hippocratic Database proposed to enhance privacy of sensitive personal data.

Created the molecule cascade -- first circuit to demonstrate necessary computing qualities.

An unprecedented billion-atom computer simulation showed the creation and entanglement of dislocations that work-harden a ductile metal into a brittle material.

Created the Services Research function.




Established industry leadership in Storage Virtualization with SAN Volume Controller.

MRFM: How it works

Created with Stanford University the IBM-Stanford Center for Spintronic Science and Applications (SpinAps) to research and develop new types of circuits that exploit the quantum spin properties of electrons.

Imaged a single electron spin with a magnetic resonance force microscope, a major milestone toward achieving 3-D atom-scale magnetic resonance imaging.

Measured the energy required to flip the spin of a single electron using a new scanning tunneling microscope technique.




Announced the Interoperable Health Information Infrastructure, a prototype medical information exchange system to enable industry collaboration and accelerate development of a standards-based national healthcare information system.

ASC Purple supercomputer delivered to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Installed prototype version of GPFS on the Blue Gene system at the San Diego Supercomputing Center

Intelligent Bricks project prototype, "IceCube," capable of storing 26 TB is operational.


Image of 29.9 nm lines on left compared to industry standard 90 nm lines on right

Created the smallest, high-quality line patterns ever made using deep-ultraviolet (DUV, 193-nanometer) optical lithography.

Developed a new way to explore and control atom-scale magnetism

Demonstrated a new method for rapid molecule sorting and delivery

Set world record (6.67 billion bits per square inch) in magnetic tape data density

Demonstrated a promising new memory chip technology with Macronix & Qimonda joint research teams

Brought electronic medical records one step closer by contributing technology to open source community


Illustration of the preferred magnetic orientation of an iron atom on a specially prepared copper surface.

MRI technology achievement marked significant advance toward the imaging of molecular structures

First-ever manufacturing application of "self assembly" used to create a vacuum -- the ultimate insulator -- around nanowires for next-generation microprocessors

Contributed STEM software that predicts spread of emerging infectious diseases to open source

IBM's first Cloud Computing Center was established in the IBM Research - Almaden in Silicon Valley in June.

Probed magnetic anisotropy in individual atoms

Provided Coscripter, a simplified consumer internet experience as a free online service


Illustration of Racetrack Memory

First measurement of the force required to move individual atoms

Developed a "Rehearsal Studio" to let you practice your job in a 3-D world

The fundamentals of a technology dubbed "racetrack" memory was described as well as a milestone in that technology

New data sharing technology speeds international collaboration to identify and respond to infectious diseases

Demonstrated groundbreaking performance results that outperform the world's fastest disk storage solution by over 250 percent

Forged a breakthrough in understanding an intriguing phenomenon in fundamental physics: the Kondo effect

The cognitive computing project seeks to build the computer of the future based on insights from the brain


Brain mapping illustration

New desalination membranes developed in collaboration with Central Glass and KACST could help remedy the world's growing water shortage

Began exploring battery technologies to further electric vehicle adoption and make energy grids more efficient

Explored the use of DNA scaffolding to build tiny circuit boards

Performed cat-scale cortical simulations and mapped the human brain in effort to build advanced chip technology


STM time resolution 3d rendering

Demonstrated a world record in areal data density on linear magnetic tape

CoScripter Reusable History, a new tool for knowledge sharing on the Web was made available

A "Green" chemistry breakthrough that could lead to new types of environmentally sustainable plastics was unveiled

A breakthrough 3D microscopic technique improves development of nanoscale structures and devices

Launched a research effort to build 360 degree view of factors affecting human health

IBM and Guang Dong Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine analyze digital medical records to understand kidney disease treatment efficacy

New 'Email Triage' technology helps manage urgent issues on mobile devices

Scanning Tunneling Microscope breakthrough captures high speed measurements of individual atoms

The new General Parallel File System-Shared Nothing Cluster (GPFS-SNC)architecture can double analytics processing speed


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