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Oct 10, 2011

HP and Hynix Start Using Memristors for Real

Memristors may still be a work in progress, but Hynix and HP seem to have reached the point where they can give a time frame, of sorts, for when products based on them will appear.

Memristor is a shortened form of Memory Resistor, which has two distinct advantages over what is used on today's flash drives and solid state drives.

The first advantage is the fairly obvious one, that of reduced power consumption (pretty much every advancement nowadays has energy efficiency factored in somewhere).

The second advantage is in how memristors do not lose the information stored on them when power is cut.

Granted, SSDs don't have much issue with storing data when not plugged into anything, but this second ability of memristors, coupled with their ability to perform logic, means that, one day, chips will be able to both store and process data.

In other words, memristors could be the missing link towards computing where central processing units, CPUs as they are understood today, are unnecessary.

HP and Hynix are researching the technology, but it will still take a while for all their efforts to bear fruit.

While the team did manage to provide a vague time frame, it is, in the end, a fairly long one: 18 months, give or take, before the first memristor-based resistive random access memory (ReRAM) product is ready.

The two also refused to say what capacity and performance people can expect, except for saying that the first actual product will have multiple layers.

"We have a lot of big plans for it and we're working with Hynix Semiconductor to launch a replacement for flash in the summer of 2013 and also to address the solid-state drive market. [There is no definitive memristor product roadmap as yet], but HP has a goal to see memristor products by the end of 2013,” said Stan Williams, senior fellow at HP Labs, at a conference.


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