IBM has announced hardware that could double the memory of a computer.

Called Memory eXpansion Technology (MXT), the new memory-controller chip resides between the processor and the main memory on a server's motherboard. It caches frequently accessed data for rapid transmission, and compresses less-used data to be stored in memory rather than on a disk.

IBM's research division claimed that MXT can double memory, and the company said data stored by the device can be decompressed in nanoseconds.

Hardware solution Big Blue adapted an available serial-processing algorithm that can be built directly into the chip, said Ellen Yoffa, IBM's director of personal and scalable systems research. She added: "Others have tried to boost memory in the past, but the reason they failed where we succeeded is they attempted to do this using software."

With IBM's approach, Yoffa said, performance should be much faster "because you no longer have to go off to a disk to retrieve your data". The added processing demands required by the MXT technology create a maximum overhead of 3 per cent on a system's resources, she added.

The chips will first appear in Intel based server systems, but it’s possible that IBM will incorporate them into PCs and wireless devices in the next few years.

Yoffa said a price hasn't been set yet.