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HP Backs Memristor Mass Production 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-wait-for-the-next-round-of-patent-battles dept.
neo12 writes with news that Hewlett-Packard is teaming with Hynix Semiconductor, the world's second-largest producer of memory chips, to mass produce memristors for the first time. Quoting the BBC: "HP says the first memristors should be widely available in about three years. The devices started as a theoretical prediction in 1971 but HP's demonstration and publication of a real working device has put them on a possible roadmap to replace memory chips or even hard drives. ... Steve Furber, professor of computer engineering at the University of Manchester, explained that the potential benefits lie in the fact that memristors are 'much simpler in principle than transistors. Because they are formed as a film between two wires, they don't have to be implanted into the silicon surface — as do transistors, which form the storage locations in Flash — so they could be built in layers in 3D,' he told BBC News. 'Of course, the devil is in the detail, and I don't think the manufacturing challenges have been fully exposed yet.'"
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HP Backs Memristor Mass Production

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  • by Pojut (1027544) on Friday September 03, 2010 @09:06AM (#33463560) Homepage

    Can any Slashdotters chime in on this...is this technology really "the next thing", or is it "the next thing that is actually nothing"?

  • by SharpFang (651121) on Friday September 03, 2010 @09:13AM (#33463616) Homepage Journal

    Not from a physicist point of view, but from engineer's.

    I mean, I know it can store data by means of variable resistance. But how do you read and write? Specific voltages, currents, frequencies? If I understand correctly, it has only two terminals like a resistor. You just apply some variable voltage and measure the current. So how can one differentiate between a write and a read?

  • by voss (52565) on Friday September 03, 2010 @09:28AM (#33463754)

    3 dimensional memory cubes would be revolutionary, memory sizes could expand geometrically...(only a mild pun intended).

    Also with 3 dimensions of wear leveling you probably wouldnt wear them out for a very LONG time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 03, 2010 @09:33AM (#33463802)
    Seriously, where will the work be done? Will HP set up the fab shop here, or in SK? Or set up multiple shops. I would love to see the DOD suggest to HP that they need to set up a shop here in the USA. We need to make certain that we have our electronics under control here. In addition, the DOD, NSA, etc needs to offer up contracts to American companies that produce equipment here. Why? Because we are increasingly seeing embedded virus, etc coming in from Asia.
  • by PPalmgren (1009823) on Friday September 03, 2010 @09:42AM (#33463870)

    Aren't processors already layered, and we use multiple platters in HDDs? As interesting as a "memory cube" sounds, I would expect heat dissipation and magnetic fields from the current could be a major roadblock in its production.

    However, Even if they could only do three layers with insulation layers inserted in between them, it'd probably still be more cost effective than current implementations as long as the memory density is similar.

  • by Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) on Friday September 03, 2010 @09:46AM (#33463894)

    Just make sure to unplug the machine when not in use then, as it will probably be more sensitive to power fluctuations, since they tend to be DC in nature.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 03, 2010 @10:05AM (#33464094)

    among other things, memristive slime mold modeling [memristor.org] and synaptic chain behaviours [arxiv.org]...

  • by Myopic (18616) on Friday September 03, 2010 @10:11AM (#33464156)

    You choose which software to run. If you run software that you think is bloated, and everyone else thinks is swell, then you have only violated your own preferences. There is nothing wrong with the software, it's all in your head. I like my 2-gigabyte operating system much better than the 2-megabyte operating system I used in 1993, and I imagine I would like a 2-terabyte operating system very much. I bet it would do all sorts of awesome stuff, and have the kinds of visual effects that I think enhance the graphical experience. If you disagree, that's fine. Version 1.1 of Linux will still run as well as the day it was released, and you can use it.

    As for me, I say bring on the bloat. I can hardly wait.

  • by Ogi_UnixNut (916982) on Friday September 03, 2010 @10:14AM (#33464178) Homepage

    From what I've read about memristor's, they don't wear out like Flash does. They are also massively faster than Flash memory. Think of it as a hybrid of RAM and Flash.

    In fact, from what I read I think these devices (if they live up to what people are saying about them) will be able to replace both RAM and Disks/SSD's. Instead we'd just have one set of primary memory where everything happens.

    Now we just have to see if they can do what is postulated, and how much it will cost to manufacture. If cheap enough to be worth buying due to their benefits, then they will have a huge effect on computing.

  • by plcurechax (247883) on Friday September 03, 2010 @10:14AM (#33464180) Homepage

    I actually happened to read this article [ieee.org] on IEEE Spectrum about new RAM technologies, and it covers both Phase-Change RAM (PC-RAM), which may of hit a road block in its development, and Resistance RAM (RRAM), of which memristor is a particular kind of.

  • by ledow (319597) on Friday September 03, 2010 @10:24AM (#33464314) Homepage

    Any military that just "relies" on the fact that what the company sends you is actually the device you bought, rather then the one you designed, shouldn't be procuring ANYTHING from ANYONE. If you're buying stuff that was made in some foreign country, and it's for a military application, you should damn well be inspecting it before using it anyway. You should damn well be inspecting it no matter where it came from - even an ally.

    And there are a million and one of these "bugs coming from Chinese-manufactured devices" stories and not one shred of evidence that it's ever happened. Hell, the tiniest change to a mass-produced board can have hundreds of subtle knock-on effects in timing, RF interference, capacitance, etc. of the circuit and would most probably break it without some seriously skilled understanding of every tolerance on the circuit - something barely the designers can claim to have. Of course it's *possible*, but it's incredibly, incredibly unlikely and if such militaries were that worried about it, they would, should, can and will make their *own* devices - because it would be no more difficult for a skilled engineer working in a US semiconductor company to affect a circuit than it would be in a foreign semiconductor company.

    And incorporating such changes into a foreign military (or even large scale civil) design could actually be perceived as an act of war. The US, EU etc. are NOT at war with anyone at the moment - people need to get this into their thick heads. Starting a war because you want to listen to a couple of phone calls is not a sensible way to act when one side has the world's largest nuclear arsenal, or the world's largest airforce, or navy, or spy satellite system.

    Please stop the "foreigners are bad" crap. That's what started the last "war" the US had.

  • Just big chips? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shaitand (626655) on Friday September 03, 2010 @10:27AM (#33464366) Journal

    I can buy big bags of transistors direct from hong kong on ebay for $5 for my hobby electronics use. Will that ever be the came with the memristor or will these never be made in component size and instead restricted to larger chips that are tens of dollars or more capacities only?

  • by gnesterenko (1457631) on Friday September 03, 2010 @10:36AM (#33464474)
    ..I'd be a lot more excited about this. But as its HP, they'll probably kill the adoption of this tech with their subpar quality control. Thanks a lot of HP, but the best thing you can do is get your hands of this and hand it to someone who takes pride in the quality of their products. "The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed."
  • by MrNemesis (587188) on Friday September 03, 2010 @10:55AM (#33464722) Homepage Journal

    IIRC, FreeScale has had (small) MRAM chips on the market for a while, memristors are just more of the same thing. I was quite surprised not to see hard drive manufacturers jump on them, at least for enterprise drives and/or RAID controllers - imagine having your HDD cache as fast as DRAM, but not needing a battery backup to retain the data in the event of sudden power loss; write-back caches could become a whole lot more widespread, for all types of storage.

    And, of course, once densities go up you manage to replace DRAM, SRAM and eventually NAND with this sort of thing too.

  • by Myopic (18616) on Friday September 03, 2010 @11:36AM (#33465216)

    Okay. So you are looking for, what, Slackware (no bloat)? maybe NetBSD (great security)?

    Me, I like pretty icons with fancy animated windows and menus. I like browsers that show flash videos and all kinds of bells and whistles. I love bloat, if that's the kind of thing you mean.

    Luckily we both have options. Neither of us is stuck in a position where we want to run software that doesn't exist. The only problem is when someone runs a system that they hate, then complain about it. If you are specifically complaining about Windows (I've never owned a Windows computer, only Macs and Linux), then I will happily join you in panning that turd.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday September 03, 2010 @11:56AM (#33465474) Homepage

    We could stack chips today except for the fact that it's impossible to cool the middle layers and the thing would almost instantly melt itself down.

    Not if it's low enough power. Major chip makers have already considered the minimal level of chip stacking when the "bottom" chip is something relatively low power.

    If the promise of using even less power than current flash memory holds true, they may not have any problem stacking chips several layers deep.

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday September 03, 2010 @02:09PM (#33467274) Homepage

    Nature tries to find the most efficient path

    Perhaps for particularly weird values of "efficient". If you look carefully at 'Nature' you see kludges upon kludges upon kludges. That's why molecular biology of organisms has been so hard to decipher. Natural selection has had millions of years to twiddle with things - therefore, if something works just a bit better (in terms of organism survival or reproduction) then it can be selected for. It may be a complex, error filled process that slows ten other processes down but given the enormous times that nature gets to play with it doesn't have to be elegant or efficient.

    It just has to work a teeny bit better than before.

    And of course, that doesn't even begin to talk about the anthropomorphic values that are associated with those adjectives.

    Millions of years is a very, very long time.

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