A recent discovery by a team of Hewlett Packard researchers could eventually help redefine the capabilities, speed and capacity of conventional memory.
Indeed, HP has determined that the “memristor” – a resistor with memory that represents the fourth basic circuit element in electrical engineering – has more capabilities than was previously thought.
For example, in addition to being useful in storage devices, the memristor can perform logic (routines), enabling computation to be performed in chips where data is stored, rather than on a specialized central processing unit.
HP has already created development-ready architectures for memory chips using memristors and claims that devices incorporating the element could hit the fast-moving marketplace within the next few years.
The new architecture reportedly features multiple layers of memristor memory stacked on top of each other within 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,” HP explained in an official statement.
“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.”
According to HP, memristors require less energy to operate, can store twice as much data and are faster than current solid-state storage technologies such as flash memory.
In addition, memristors are virtually immune from radiation which can disrupt transistor-based technologies – making them an appropriate choice to drive smaller, more powerful devices.