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HP Invents “Memristor” Element that Can Enable Energy-Independent Memory

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Analog

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HP announced on Wednesday that researchers from HP Labs, the company’s central research facility, have proven the existence of what had previously been only theorized as the fourth fundamental circuit element in electrical engineering. The discovery of the element called “memristor” can enable technologies that may eventually replace dynamic random access memory (DRAM), hard drives or flash.
Memristor: The Fourth Fundamental Electronic Circuit Element

In a paper published in Nature magazine, four researchers at HP Labs’ Information and Quantum Systems Lab, led by R. Stanley Williams, presented the mathematical model and a physical example of a “memristor” – a blend of “memory resistor” – which has the unique property of retaining a history of the information it has acquired. The team at HP is the first to prove the existence of the memristor, even though the discovery of the element was predicted decades back.

The memristor first appeared in a 1971 paper published by professor Leon Chua, a computer scientist from the University of California Berkeley. Mr. Chua described and named the memristor, arguing that it should be included along with the resistor, capacitor and inductor as the fourth fundamental circuit element. The memristor has properties that cannot be duplicated by any combination of the other three elements.

Although researchers had observed instances of memristance for more than 50 years, the proof of its existence remained elusive – in part because memristance is much more noticeable in nanoscale devices. The crucial issue for memristance is that the device’ atoms need to change location when voltage is applied, and that happens much more easily at the nanoscale.

Stanley Williams and co-authors Dmitri B. Strukov, Gregory S. Snider and Duncan R. Stewart were able to formulate a physics-based model of a memristor and build nanoscale devices in their lab that demonstrate all of the necessary operating characteristics to prove that the memristor was real.

“To find something new and yet so fundamental in the mature field of electrical engineering is a big surprise, and one that has significant implications for the future of computer science. By providing a mathematical model for the physics of a memristor, HP Labs has made it possible for engineers to develop integrated circuit designs that could dramatically improve the performance and energy efficiency of PCs and data centers,” said Stanley Williams of HP.
Memristor Could Replace DRAM, Other Storage Technologies

One application for the memristor research could be the development of a new kind of computer memory that would supplement and eventually replace today’s commonly used DRAM, HP said.

Computers using conventional DRAM lack the ability to retain information once they lose power, but when power is restored to a DRAM-based computer, a slow, energy-consuming “boot-up” process is necessary to retrieve data from hard drive required to run the system. In contrast, a memristor-based computer would retain its information after losing power and would not require the boot-up process, resulting in the consumption of less power and wasted time.

Mr. Chua believes the memristor could have applications for computing, cell phones, video games, anything that requires a lot of memory without a lot of battery-power drain.

This functionality could play a significant role as “cloud computing” becomes more prevalent. Cloud computing requires an IT infrastructure of hundreds of thousands of servers and storage systems. The memory and storage systems used by today’s cloud infrastructure require significant power to store, retrieve and protect the information of millions of web users worldwide.
Memristor Could Enable Computers that Think Like Humans

Memristor technology could one day lead to computer systems that can remember and associate patterns in a way a human brain recognizes patterns.

This could substantially improve today’s facial recognition technology, enable security and privacy features that recognize a complex set of biometric features of an authorized person to access personal information, or enable an appliance to learn from experience.http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/other/...ent_Memory_Human_Like_Thinking_Computers.html
 

RODALCO

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Analog

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What Is The Symbol For This Thing?
 

Salgat

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DigiTan

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"Flux capacitor" seems more fitting from the sound of that 1971 article.
 

Torben

Well-Known Member
Salgat said:
Not a big fan of that symbol. Symbols need to be simple and quick to draw. I wouldn't mind if it was just a square wave looking symbol.
Yeah, I agree. When penciling circuits on a napkin or something it'd be a pain in the butt.


Torben
 

Sceadwian

Banned
It's not an inherently digital device, the square wave would be inappropriate. It stores in it's resistance the history (within it's limits) of the current that has passed through it. In lovely ascii I imagine it as something like <-I-?/\/\/\?-I-> though I leave a graphic and refinement up to people more artistically inclined.
 

Salgat

New Member
Sceadwian said:
It's not an inherently digital device, the square wave would be inappropriate. It stores in it's resistance the history (within it's limits) of the current that has passed through it. In lovely ascii I imagine it as something like <-I-?/\/\/\?-I-> though I leave a graphic and refinement up to people more artistically inclined.
The square wave probably comes from the fact that its main impact currently will be in digital systems.
 

Nigel Goodwin

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Most Helpful Member
Is it just me?, or is everyone getting carried away?.

There have been loads of components announced in a similar fashion over the decades, it's very rare for one to ever actually be of any use (or even actually work) and enter production and general use.

Notice the announcement was "proven the existence of", not "made one it's wonderful" or "they enter production next week".

I'm not holding my breath :D
 

Analog

New Member
Nigel Goodwin said:
Is it just me?, or is everyone getting carried away?.

There have been loads of components announced in a similar fashion over the decades, it's very rare for one to ever actually be of any use (or even actually work) and enter production and general use.

Notice the announcement was "proven the existence of", not "made one it's wonderful" or "they enter production next week".

I'm not holding my breath :D
Interesting, I know of no other passive two terminal device announced in a similar fashion over the decades. If you would Nigel, point to one? :D

I think you mean devices in general, such as non linear semiconductor devices, ICs, new IC technologies, new materials etc.

But this is a fundamental device, joining R, L and C.
 

Sceadwian

Banned
The main advantage wouldn't necessarily be to digital electronics. It's virtually purpose built to act as an analog neuron, storing an analog value ?indefinitely? without power. Though I agree with Nigels skepticism. HP has applied for a patent on their manufacturing method so the device is real, but I didn't see any specs for the device they built so it's usefulness right now is still in question. Then again if it can be properly developed it will help simplify a lot of things. Definitely one to watch the news for.
 

Salgat

New Member
My main curiosity in this is how it fills in the final gap of applying the fundamentals of electricity to electronics (flux and charge). Flux Capacitor anyone?
 

Sceadwian

Banned
The answer can be found in the wikipedia entry.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memristor

From reading a bit it looks like the fabricated device isn't technically a memresistor although it behaves like one.
 

Hero999

Banned
I agree with Nigel, it might start a revolution in electrical engineering but the chances are it won't.
 
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