HP Maps Memristor Structure, Function - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Infrastructure // PC & Servers

HP Maps Memristor Structure, Function

The nascent memory resistor technology holds the promise of making computing systems much faster and power efficient.

HP, Hynix Semiconductor ReRAM
(click image for larger view)
HP, Hynix Semiconductor ReRAM
HP scientists have made a breakthrough in their ongoing studies of memristor circuit elements, which could help expedite a new era of computer memory and processing.

In a paper published Monday in the journal Nanotechnology, researchers from HP Labs and University of California Santa Barbara report they have identified and mapped out the structure of what happens inside a memristor during its electrical operation.

A memristor is a memory resistor and the fabled fourth fundamental circuit element alongside the familiar resistor, capacitor, and inductor. A memory resistor has the potential to "remember" the total electrical charge that passes through them, even after the current is gone.

"As a result (memristors) can potentially underpin the next-gen of high density, non-volatile memory chips and logic circuits that mimic biological synapses," said Elisa Greene from HP corporate communications in the HP blog.

The latest breakthrough by HP and UC Santa Barbara was caused by using X-rays to pinpoint the 100-nanometer channel within the memristor where resistance switching takes place. They were able to then map out the chemistry and structure of that channel, which helped them gain a better understanding of how memristors operate.

While memristors were first theorized in 1971, HP proved the existence of them in 2006 and first demonstrated them in 2008. Last year, HP partnered with Hynix Semiconductor to develop and manufacture a memristor memory product called resistive random access memory (ReRAM). ReRAM holds the financial promise HP has been looking for in its studies, with the potential to replace flash and DRAM memory. ReRAM is non-volatile memory, meaning it can retain data after the power supply is turned off. It also offers lower power consumption and much greater storage capacity.

ReRAM could also change the standard computing paradigm of having a CPU, or central processing unit, handle computation. Memristors can switch on and off in a nanosecond, making systems much faster and power efficient. Memristors can also store information and perform processing, which could drastically alter the processing and storage architecture of computers and electronics.

"Memristors hold great promise for enabling new types of memory that have very high endurance (meaning they can be written, erased, and re-written many times), are highly scalable and stable, and consume little power." according to the HP blog.

HP believes devices incorporating memristor-based chips could hit the market by 2014. This would include handheld devices like phones and tablets with 10 times greater embedded memory than current devices. Also, supercomputers could be made "dramatically faster" than what's predicted in Moore's law.

Moore's law, named for Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore, states that the number of transistors placed on an integrated circuit doubles about every two years. The trend has led to dramatic increases in performance at lower energy consumption in each new generation of microprocessors.

Servers running VMs are still just servers. Stick with security practices you know to minimize risk. Also in the new all-digital InformationWeek supplement: Trust but verify when it comes to hypervisor security. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Commentary
Future IT Teams Will Include More Non-Traditional Members
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  4/1/2020
News
COVID-19: Using Data to Map Infections, Hospital Beds, and More
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  3/25/2020
Commentary
Enterprise Guide to Robotic Process Automation
Cathleen Gagne, Managing Editor, InformationWeek,  3/23/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
IT Careers: Tech Drives Constant Change
Advances in information technology and management concepts mean that IT professionals must update their skill sets, even their career goals on an almost yearly basis. In this IT Trend Report, experts share advice on how IT pros can keep up with this every-changing job market. Read it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll