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Mathematicians on Science Park Develop New Techniques for Data Storage

Mathematicians in Coventry are staying one step ahead by developing techniques to make a difference in the way data is stored in computers.

Siglead Europe has moved into the Canley-based Venture Centre at the University of Warwick Science Park to carry out research and development into correcting mistakes that occur within computers’ data storage devices.

Chief executive Dr Oleg Zaboronski and Oliver Hambrey, a graduate of the University of Warwick, report their findings to Siglead Group’s headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, for its engineers to integrate their ideas into data storage equipment.

Oliver said their research in digital signal processing makes a difference in the data storage industry which includes PCs used by everyone at home or work.

“For instance, if you leave your mobile phone in the sun all day, the information stored inside it will begin to corrupt,” he said.

“We use Siglead's flash memory analysis equipment (SigNAS) to carefully analyse how the data stored on the flash memory inside these devices behaves under such extreme conditions. We like to know how often information stored as a 1 is mistakenly read as a 0 and vice versa, etc. Using this knowledge, we design methods to detect and correct corruptions more efficiently.

“To mimic prolonged exposure to the heat of the sun, we use a specially designed oven in our office at the Venture Centre. After we have written data to our flash memories, we put them into the oven so that we can analyse what has happened to the data on them during the time they are in the oven.

“We send our research to our engineers in Japan who build the algorithms into controller chips for solid state drives for computers.”

Oliver, who has a Master’s degree in Maths, an MSc in Complexity Science and is presently undertaking a PhD in industry, said as a start-up company, the Venture Centre had all the facilities they required.

He added: “The facilities are excellent and provide everything we need to carry out our research. The location is also ideal since we have strong links with the Mathematics Institute at the University of Warwick.”

Karen Aston, manager at the Venture Centre, said Siglead Europe has moved into its Ignite offices which were ideal for fledgling companies.

“Siglead Europe is carrying out ground-breaking work which makes a real difference to information stored on the hard drives of our computers,” she said.

“They are a great example of the fascinating research and development work which is carried out at the Venture Centre.

“Our Ignite programme allows start-up companies to rent our offices, make use of our business support services and grow at their own pace.”