The researchers at HP have developed a new way to perform logic Operations, making it possible to fabricate much more advanced chips that would use memory devices in place of standard transistors. As per the research, an array of memristors (150 atoms wide) can perform both logic and storage operations.
The memristor is a device as fundamental as the resistor, inductor and capacitor, but is based on the relationship between flux and charge, rather than between voltage and charge.
Memristors retain memory states even when no current is being passed through them and they can be used not just as a memory device, but also to perform computations. That means computation could be performed on chips where data is stored, rather than on a specialised processing unit. The current gen computers link the processor and memory unit by a high-speed bus which introduces delays of the order of few 100s of nanoseconds(assuming large data transfers). With the new Memristors, the delay would theoretically be brought down to zero.
Instant-on PCs: As memristors retain memory in the absence of power, they would help creating the computers that can power-on to the last state in split-seconds.
Building More Capable Mobile, Supercomputers: Apart from what is said, HP claims that within 5 years memristor-based computing could be used to create handheld devices with 10 times the embedded memory possible today, or to power supercomputers that could reach speeds faster than what Moore’s Law suggests is possible using current technologies.
Memristors are more powerful and capable than what it may look like. They can behave as a digital as well as analogue device which brings them a step closer to Human brain. Since our brains are made of memristors, the floodgate is now open for commercialisation of computers that would compute like human brains, much faster, which is a giant leap ahead of current Neumann architecture.
Advantages of Memristors over Solid State Semiconductors
Inherently, Memristors require less energy to operate, and are still faster than current solid-state storage technologies including SSDs, flash memory. As they are not semiconductors, they are immune to radiations. The problem with traditional silicon chips is that when the size gets too small, it gets more prone to slightest radiations raising the error beyond tolerable limits. With Memristors, this would be overcome, miniaturization would be much more easier and hence cheaper.
We don’t doubt the potential of memristors, they can bring out new possibilities. The only question is when? HP claims that it has created architectures for memory chips using memristors, and believes memristor-based devices could come to market “within the next few years”.