State of the Memristor Art

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2010-04-08 Print this article Print

Here are the highlights of the memristor update, according to HP Labs:

-HP has created development-ready architectures for memory chips using memristors and believes it is possible that devices incorporating the element could come to market within the next few years."

-HP researchers also have designed a new architecture within which multiple layers of memristor memory can be stacked on top of each other in a single chip. In five years, such chips could be used to create handheld devices that offer ten times greater embedded memory than exists today or to power supercomputers that allow work like movie rendering and genomic research to be done dramatically faster than Moore's Law suggests is possible.

-Eventually, memristor-based processors might replace the silicon in the smart display screens found in e-readers and could one day even become the successors to silicon on a larger scale.

-Memristors require less energy to operate and are faster than present solid-state storage technologies such as flash memory, and they can store at least twice as much data in the same area.

-Memristors are virtually immune toradiation, which can disrupt transistor-based technologies-making them an attractive way to enable ever smaller but ever more powerful devices.

-Because they do not "forget," memristors can enable [the creation of] computers that turn on and off like a light switch.

Far-reaching implications

The implications here as to the technology's potential impact on the IT world are enormous.

HP Labs has an impressive track record. Since its founding in 1966 by Bill Hewlett and David Packard, the lab has come up with ground-breaking technologies such as the pocket scientific calculator (1972), thermal inkjet printing (1984), RISC computer architecture (1986), the cordless mouse (1998) and the Jena Web tool kit for semantic Web developers (2000).

The next big Labs breakthrough looks like it will be the memristor, which HP bluntly described as "holding the potential to fundamentally change computer system design."

You can be sure that eWEEK will keep a close eye on this technology as it continues to develop.

To read a FAQ on memristor, go here. To see an article on this topic on the HP Labs site, go here. Finally, Williams gives a whiteboard talk (about 6 minutes) about memristors in this YouTube video.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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