HP's Memristor Hardware could Revolutionize ComputingWhen HP unveiled the first working memristor in 2008, the hardware world understandable went wild. Memristors combine computation and storage--think of them like the neurons in your brain. Not only does a memristor allow for entirely new forms of computation, it will make classical computation significantly (and I mean significantly) faster.
Memristors are set to change the face of computing as we know it, and they are the first new computation element in a long, long time.
But HP has been quite silent on their breakthrough. That is, until now. We now have a timetable for when HP thinks the first memristor-based hardware will come into play: sometime in 2014. Or at least that is the timetable mentioned by HP's Stan Williams at a conference.
It should be noted that Williams originally predicted that the technology would go into production in 2013, so we are talking about a small delay. Why the delay?
“It’s sad to say, but the science and technology are the easy part. Development costs at least 10 times as much as research, and commercialization costs 10 times as much as development. So in the end, research — which we think is the most important part — is only 1 percent of the effort.”In other words, the technology is there, but it has been harder to develop and commercialize than expected.
So, why is the memristor so revolutionary? Simple: it lets circuits do things they have never done before.
All common electric circuits in use today are derived from three base elements: a capacitor, a resistor and an inductor. Together these elements build the various components used in circuitry. But in 1971 a fourth building block was propsed: the memory resistor, or memristor.
The memristor functions as a resistor, limiting the flow of electricity across itself. But in addition to that, the memristor remembers the flow of electricity, even when no electricity was flowing to it. Basically that lets the memristor function as computer memory on the single-component level, which is smaller than ever before. A memristor storage drive will be much faster and much more stable than today's SSD's, while also being significantly cheaper, once the technology gets properly developed. It also simplifies the designs of some fiendishly complex circuits, since it can do both things at once without undue extra circuitry.
So, Let's hope that HP sticks to their target. Because I want memristors sooner rather than later.