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HP Hardware Technology

HP Creates First Hybrid Memristor Chip 155

An anonymous reader writes "HP researchers have built the first functioning hybrid memristor-transistor chip. Lead researcher Stanley Williams and his team built the very first memristor — the '4th fundamental element' of integrated circuits after resistors, capacitors and inductors — back in April. Memristors can remember their resistance, leading to novel electronic capabilities. The new FPGA circuit uses memristors to perform tasks normally carried out by (many more) transistors and is therefore smaller, more power efficient and cheaper to make, HP says. Memristors could also turn out to be a more compact, faster alternative to flash memory."
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HP Creates First Hybrid Memristor Chip

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  • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @01:01PM (#25887759)

    Am I the only when that thought memristors would remain the the 5-10 year category for the next couple of decades? Granted, this is just a proof of concept chip but it is moving along very rapidly compared to most 'game changing' advances.

    20 years of theory and work just to make the first memristor, less than a year to use the new memristor in a device that actually improves over the standard technology. So when will we see commercially available devices? Next year some time at this rate?

  • Re:size? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @01:41PM (#25888383)

    You joke but look at this []

    Although the HP memristor is a major discovery for electrical engineering theory, it has yet to be demonstrated in operation at practical speeds and densities. Graphs in Williams' original report show switching operation at only ~1 Hz. Although the small dimension of the device seem to imply fast operation, the charge carriers move very slowly, with an ion mobility of 10E-10 cm2/(V s). In comparison, the highest known drift ionic mobilities occur in advanced superionic conductors, such as rubidium silver iodide with about 2*10E-4 cm^2/(V s) conducting silver ions at room temperature. Electrons and holes in silicon have a mobility ~1000 cm^2/(V s), a figure which is essential to the performance of transistors. However, a relatively low bias of 1 volt was used, and the plots appear to be generated by a mathematical model rather than a laboratory experiment.[8]

    1Hz? Next!

  • Re:Unfortunate (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MaxwellEdison ( 1368785 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @01:44PM (#25888437)
    Hybrid, transistor, and chip? No, no problem whatsoever. My problem is with memristor, and memristance. They were made up to describe a resistance "setting" being remembered by a variable resistor. And frankly, the only problem I have is that the word originated for written text, where it is fine. I, however, am a big fan of the spoken language and the flow of a well constructed sentence. For a car analogy, a memristor is like a faulty transmission in the car that is a sentence's flow. It lurches and degrades the overall ride.
  • Wow (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kidde_valind ( 1060754 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @01:45PM (#25888479)
    Things like these makes you remember that HP isn't just a company that makes crappy consumer products.
  • Neural nets? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr.mac@com> on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:02PM (#25888733) Journal

    This memristor technology sounds like it could be an ideal device for implementing neural nets. Anyone working on that, I wonder?


  • by TheThiefMaster ( 992038 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:02PM (#25888743)

    Is there any free circuit simulation software that includes simulated memristors for me to fool about with?

    I still don't get quite how they work.

  • Symbol (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Wizworm ( 782799 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:04PM (#25888777)
    What I want to know is what is the recognized symbol for this new element? I see the one on Wikipedia, but is this the international standard, sanctioned by the IEEE?
  • Unsurprisingly, yes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @03:24PM (#25889875)
    The book The Bottomless Well [] discusses the concept of "the refined energy pyramid" where each level is smaller and more useful than the one below it. Electricity and computer are two levels medium-high on the pyramid. The books shows how auto technology has been rising up the pyramid with increasing fractions of its energy level at more refined levels. The book says about 15% of a modern auto's energy density (excluding hybrids and plug-ins) is now electrical and increasing. Computing is growing too, replacing items like distributors, etc with more efficent computed actuators and increasing mileage. Memisters will probably more compact implement soem electronic functions the other three are used for now.
  • by Sanat ( 702 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @03:52PM (#25890239)

    Thanks for the suggestion on the book.

    I can write those books and have in the past. My experience stems from 1962 being a systems Analyst for a computer system. In the old days before IC's and even before transistors were a part of computers the vacuum tube was used.

    In those days the adder section, rather than being a single chip was composed of discrete components. Once an adder problem was a wire wrap on the back panel that was making poor connection causing it not to promote a "carry" from the previous position.

    I really do understand binary but keep in mind that having more than the two states of binary permits a smaller size over all. For instance the 123 I mentioned needs 7 positions in binary but only 3 positions in decinary.

    Watch for it. Eventually this will be the going thing. Binary locked us in and was very restrictive while this invention and others in a similar vein will present opportunities we could not imagine before.

  • by neomunk ( 913773 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @06:36PM (#25892705)

    Ahh, but what's the resolution of that one 'bit'? AFAIK this is an analog device, not at all limited to 1 or 0, but able to be used as such to to the handy-dandy DAC. :-D At first this is a thing for circuit-nerds, but don't despair, as when the circuit-nerds have hand their hands dirty for a minute, computer nerds are going to get to write "programs" for FPGAs, and then not long after that, libraries will emerge that let C nerds (and regular ole' C monkeys) utilize the goodness of these little variable connections.

    As for myself, I'm eagerly waiting to see what the FPGA implementation looks like, as I have high hopes for these things (memristors) being useful as 'synapses' in an artificial neural net. I've actually been hoping for something like this for many years, as the switching speed (fast!) might mean I can train nn implementations asynchronously at extremely high speeds... I don't know yet, but like I said, I've got high hopes. :-D

As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.