HP Partners with Hynix to Make Memristors a Reality

This is pretty unrelated to webOS at the moment, but one day memristors might be powering webOS devices and so why not tout HP’s recent partnership with Hynix to bring memristors to market? Besides, it’s great to see Palm and webOS as part of such a cool technology company as HP.

So, what are memristors, you ask? Here’s some info from the HP Blog:

Today, HP announced a joint development agreement with Hynix Semiconductor Inc., to develop a new kind of computer memory – one that will employ memristor technology pioneered by researchers at HP Labs.

This memory, called ReRAM, holds the potential to surpass Flash in terms of affordability, total capacity, speed, energy efficiency, and endurance.

And its potential doesn’t stop there.  “We believe that the memristor is a universal memory technology that over time could replace Flash, DRAM, and even hard drives,” says Stan Williams, HP Senior Fellow and founding Director of the Information and Quantum Systems Lab (IQSL).

But what is a memristor and how might it change the evolution of information technology?

A short history on memristor

Previous to the prediction of the memristor by Prof. Leon Chua of UC Berkeley in 1971, there were three recognized passive circuit elements:  the resistor, capacitor, and inductor.  These three passive elements have provided the fundamental building blocks on which all electronic circuits today are based.

HP’s demonstration that so-called ReRAM (resistive-RAM) devices were actually memristors provided the mathematical foundation for completely new types of electronics.

Go read the rest. If HP has its way, future webOS (okay, and other platforms’) devices will be even more powerful. As an example:

What does this mean for my laptop or smartphone?

Memristors can retain information even when the power is off and are highly energy efficient. This means that your laptop could boot up much faster and last longer on one charge since it consumes less energy.  Given the number and sophistication of apps running on smartphones, this should also significantly extend the usable time between charges.

In the future, because both compute and memory functions could be conducted within the same chip, this also means that laptops and smartphones could be much thinner and much faster than they are now. (Why? Because data have less distance to travel since memory and logic are performed on the same chip).

Can’t wait to see it, HP!

Oh, and check out the video. It’s a brave new world we’re heading into.

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