HP and memory manufacturer Hynix Semiconductor have revealed they are collaborating on a program to bring memristor technology into commercial memory devices. A memristor is a new kind of circuit element that can store data much more efficiently than current solid-state memory technologies. It was first demonstrated in 2008 at HP Labs. In April of this year, the company discovered memristors could also act as logic elements, opening the door to integrated processing-storage devices.
The announcement this week launches the memristor onto a commercial path. The targeted product will be something called ReRAM (Resistive Random Access Memory), a non-volatile memory with lower power consumption, faster access times, and higher capacity than present-day solid-state memory. In fact, the devices could serve as a universal storage medium, replacing flash, DRAM, and even hard disks.
According to the April press release:
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.
That’s just the teaser though. In the same April press release, R. Stanley Williams, senior fellow and director of HP’s Information and Quantum Systems Lab, gushed:
“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.”
So when is this Holy Grail of computing going to hit the streets? According to the Williams, they’re looking to push the first memristor-based product out the door by 2013.