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WinMX World :: Forum  |  Discussion  |  WinMx World News  |  Hewlett Packard outlines computer memory of the future
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Author Topic: Hewlett Packard outlines computer memory of the future  (Read 1048 times)

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Offline DaBees-Knees

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Hewlett Packard outlines computer memory of the future
« on: April 11, 2010, 02:50:42 am »
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8609885.stm

Quote
The fundamental building blocks of all computing devices could be about to undergo a dramatic change that would allow faster, more efficient machines.

Researchers at computer firm Hewlett Packard (HP) have shown off working devices built using memristors - often described as electronics' missing link.

These tiny devices were proposed 40 years ago but only fabricated in 2008.

HP says it has now shown that they can be used to crunch data, meaning they could be used to build advanced chips.

That means they could begin to replace transistors - the tiny switches used to build today's chips. And, crucially, the unique properties of memristors would allow future chips to both store and process data in the same device. Today, these functions are done on separate devices, meaning data must be transferred between the two, slowing down the computation and wasting energy.

"The processor and memory could be exactly the same thing," Dr Stan Williams of HP told BBC News. "That allows us to think differently about how computation could be done."

Professor Leon Chua - the first person to propose memristors - said the work was "conceptually, just the tip of the iceberg". He compared the devices to the human brain's synapses and axons. "In the near future we can use memristors to make real brain-like computers, he told BBC News.

Researchers at the University of Michigan recently showed that the devices can mimic synaptic activity in the brain.

The HP work is published in the journal Nature.

Tower chips

Despite being proposed by Professor Chua in 1971, it took almost forty years for a working memristor to be built, by Dr Williams and his team. Hewlett-Packard's Stan Williams helped develop 'memristors'

The tiny devices are the "fourth" basic building block of circuits, after capacitors, resistors and inductors.

"I'm delighted because I never thought this would happen in my lifetime," said Professor Chua.

The devices get their name from their ability to "remember" the amount of charge that has flowed through them after the power has been switched off. This means they are suited for building computer memory and storage; an application that Dr Williams believes could be on the market within three years. "Our immediate goal is to make a competitor to flash memory for cameras, iPods and devices like that," said Dr Williams. "Our aspiration is for it to have twice as much available memory as an equivalent sized flash memory device."

The team has also shown that the memristors can be stacked on top of each other to form 3-D arrays.

"In theory we can connect thousands of layers in a very straightforward fashion," said Dr Williams.  "It could provide a way of getting a ridiculous amount of memory on a chip."

Future path

Further into the future, Dr Williams said that he hoped that they could be used to build a single device for storage and computation. "That would allow a huge speed saving and energy saving," he said. However, he said, that kind of device was more than a decade away.

Memristors could also help with a problem that continues to challenge the chip industry, continuing to pack more and more computational power into smaller and smaller spaces. Currently, chip makers follow a path defined by Moore's Law, which states that the number of transistors it is possible to squeeze in to a chip for a fixed cost doubles every two years. 

This is currently achieved by producing transistors with ever smaller feature sizes. Current cutting edge chips have transistors with feature sizes as small as 22 nanometres (22 billionths of a metre). But this miniaturisation cannot continue forever, experts say.

Memristors offer an alternative path.

"We can continue to make them smaller even past the point where people think that transistors cannot shrink any further," said Dr Williams. Crucially, said Dr Williams, they can be built using "materials commonly available in any fab [chip fabrication plant]".

Professor James Tour of Rice University in Houston said the memristor's ability to be compatible with existing transistor based technologies was a "critical parameter to permit rapid implementation into present chip manufacturing processes".

Dr Williams said he had already made "crude" prototypes with features as small as 3nm. "The functional equivalent of Moore's Law could go on for decades after we hit the wall where we can no longer shrink transistors," he said.

I note, there's no mention in that article of extra heat being generated when memory is included on a chip in that way. We'll have to wait and see.  :gum:

Offline bu44er

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Re: Hewlett Packard outlines computer memory of the future
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2010, 05:10:43 pm »
I have got to admit this sounds rather good. Then again i like the idea of anything that would make my Computer run more quickly and more efficiently.
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Offline GhostShip

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Re: Hewlett Packard outlines computer memory of the future
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2010, 12:19:49 am »
I,m sure they could have fabricated this same tech out of existing gate/junction materials and thus I dont yet see whats new and innovative about this, I would always go with fet tech over transistor fabrication tech any day due to reliability factors  but just where this fits into that equation is another matter .

Offline Forested665

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Re: Hewlett Packard outlines computer memory of the future
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2010, 10:19:50 pm »
fet is still a transistor? this seems like a small scale FPGA processor. but im sure its nowhere near as fast. either way this might be a good time for someone else besides apple and the netbooks to try to dump the x86 arch
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Offline GhostShip

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Re: Hewlett Packard outlines computer memory of the future
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2010, 11:52:14 am »
Solid state transistor junctions are fabricated in a different manner than field effect transisitor junctions and thus their properties are slightly different, you may remember the CMOS versus TTL battle some decades ago if not I'm sure the net has a story or two on the matter.

Offline Forested665

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Re: Hewlett Packard outlines computer memory of the future
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2010, 08:24:24 pm »
I know you know im too young for that one GS, but ill be sure to go read some.
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Offline Max™

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Re: Hewlett Packard outlines computer memory of the future
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2010, 08:42:29 pm »
Well looking at that article,
it seams HP have a lot of work to do, when i was reading a forum with over 200 complaints that some of their all-in-one printers have drivers that set themselves as services to run on boot,
1 will always look for new printers or scanners added, (why when you got an all-in-one)
another sits an icon in your tray and monitors the printer & its ink levels, (ok if you use your printer all the time)
another will connect to the net for you to go shopping for supplies at the HP shop at a click (yep like you buy ink and more printers all the time)

HP have advised people these services can be turned off and the printer will operate as normal anyway,
i have one of these all-in-one printers, thats how i know.



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Offline White Stripes

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Re: Hewlett Packard outlines computer memory of the future
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2010, 03:33:02 am »
what happened with mram and racetrack? .... some stuff just never makes it out of the lab...

Offline Bluey_412

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Re: Hewlett Packard outlines computer memory of the future
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2010, 01:16:56 pm »
I have got to admit this sounds rather good. Then again i like the idea of anything that would make my Computer run more quickly and more efficiently.

I think we all said the same when IBM started talking about 'Pixie Dust' for HDD platters, quite a few years ago...

Now we got SSD's, and platters may have a visible end to their little road.

But, just like Stripes just said, Some stuff just never makes it out of the lab.
What you think is important is rarely urgent
But what you think is Urgent is rarely important

Just remember that...

Offline Forested665

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Re: Hewlett Packard outlines computer memory of the future
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2010, 02:32:24 pm »
MRAM did make it out of the lab. Freescale and toshiba are the main manufacturers theres a 200mb chip and a 16mb chip. but it seems that these companies have shifted their focus to spin torque transfer.
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Offline White Stripes

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Re: Hewlett Packard outlines computer memory of the future
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2010, 05:56:10 am »
@forested; so one of them made it out of the lab but wheres the cheap usb thumbdrive with those chips in it? ;)

Offline Forested665

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Re: Hewlett Packard outlines computer memory of the future
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2010, 03:59:31 am »
why on a thumb drive? we have flash chips that can run faster than sata, it would be a waste and i bet they would be at least 7 times more vulnerable to environmental corruption. Credit cards, those security things at the store radios, microwaves, flourescent lights, walking across carpet. any number of things could corrupt data stored on portable ram.
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