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April 8, 2010

HP Labs unveils advancements in Memristor chip research

Enables computation to be performed in chips where data is stored

By CBR Staff Writer

HP’s research arm has developed a new technology, which the company says could change the way computer systems are designed while better equipping them to process the current ‘information explosion.’

The company claims that memristors, a resistor with memory that represents the fourth basic circuit element in electrical engineering, use less energy to operate and are faster than present solid-state storage technologies such as flash memory. In addition, they have capabilities to store at least twice as much data in the same area and are immune from radiation which can disrupt transistor-based technologies.

HP said that it has created development-ready architectures for memory chips using memristors and believes that 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. It expects that these chips could be used to create handheld devices that offer ten times greater embedded memory than exists today.

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In addition, HP said that memristor-based processors might replace the silicon in the smart display screens found in e-readers and could even become the successors to silicon on a larger scale.

Stanley Williams, senior fellow and director of information and quantum systems lab at HP: “Memristive devices could change the standard paradigm of computing by enabling calculations to be performed in the chips where data is stored rather than in a specialised central processing unit.

“Thus, we anticipate the ability to make more compact and power-efficient computing systems well into the future, even after it is no longer possible to make transistors smaller via the traditional Moore’s Law approach.”

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