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The “God Particle?” May 4, 2008

Posted by tomography in Innovation, What tomorrow brings?.
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Researchers at Hewlett Packard have transfered a theoretical object into reality. Memristors were first theorized in the 1970s, but it took almost 20 years for them to find their way onto designers’ desks and into our PCs.

The device, a nanoscale component called a “memristor,” requires no power to retain data, which it can store more densely than a hard drive and access about as fast as a computer’s RAM memory—potentially allowing it to replace both components in the future.

We can expect memristors to show up in everyday technology in the next two to three years when they will catalyze information transfer in our personal computers. First they will act as a “catch” between the hard disc drive and the DRAM, which will allow shorter loading times of large files such as complicated applications and images. “Stan Williams, who leads the HP research team, thinks a memristor can hold scads more data than a hard drive and access about as fast as DRAM.” Their future plan is to replace both the hard drive and the RAM by one single device: the memristor.

This new technology will help ease the burden of the hard drives at work in diagnostic imaging, where large images are acquired, stored, opened and recorded many times over throughout a day. Memristors will make loading a patients full picturesque medical history a flash.

But memristors have more in store for us. Since they can function both in digital (on/off) and analogue mode, different types of tasks requiring different computational modes can be carried out by that which fits best. For example, facial recognition is best carried out in analogue mode that closely resembles the way the human brain works.

Williams proposes a CPU with multiple processing cores: Some digital for the number crunching that today’s computers do so well, and others using analog memristors.

In fact, in an article that appears on the HP Research website you may read that their goal is to develop a highly energy efficient computer with pattern recognition capabilities that closely matches that of the human brain!

For further reading on this hot topic I recommend you the following articles:

I personally cannot wait to see this technology at work. Its been a long way coming!

– Andras

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