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HP Discovery Could Fundamentally Change Computer Systems
Apr 8, 2010
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HP Labs, HP's central research arm, said it has made advancements that could allow future computers to perform logic on the chip that stores the data, rather than on a central processing unit. The technology makes use of a memristor, a resistor with memory.

The functional advantages could be significant. Memristors require less energy, are faster than solid-state storage technologies like flash memory, and store at least two times the data in the same area. Memristors are designed to be virtually immune to radiation, unlike transistor-based technologies, and so may enable smaller, more powerful devices. The technology does not loose data when power is interrupted, so they may enable computers that turn on and off like a light.

HP sees huge potential for the technology, and details its latest findings in a paper in the journal “Nature," authored by six researchers at HP’s Information and Quantum Systems Lab, led by R. Stanley Williams.

HP created development-ready architectures for memory chips using memristors and believes devices using them could be on the market within a few years. HP researchers also designed a new architecture enabling the stacking of multiple layers of memristor memory in a single chip. HP even foresees the possibility of memristor-based processors replacing silicon processors on a large scale.

“Since our brains are made of memristors, the flood gate is now open for commercialization of computers that would compute like human brains, which is totally different from the von Neumann architecture underpinning all digital computers," said Leon Chua, professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Department, University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Chua theorized about and named the memristor in an academic paper published 39 years ago.

Photo: HP Laps.

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