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HP Hardware

HP Advances Next-Gen Memory Technology 70

angry tapir writes "HP scientists have made a small breakthrough in the development of a next-generation memory technology called memristors, which some see as a potential replacement for today's widely used flash and DRAM technologies. In a paper to be published today in the journal Nanotechnology, scientists report that they have mapped out the basic chemistry and structure of what happens inside a memristor during its electrical operation."
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HP Advances Next-Gen Memory Technology

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  • Ti introduced their new line of uControllers with F-RAM, saying it is 120 times faster than Flash.


    except for real fast needs they have some k S-RAM.

    as they are also using licensed technology like Fujitsu, we can expect more of this to come - maybe not yet for the PC!

    • Re:what about F-RAM? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @09:00AM (#36139228)

      The only real difference between FRAM and memristors, is FRAM has been licensing and shipping COTS product for over a decade, and memristors are a vaporware product from extremely deep pockets trying to bite a piece off that (admittedly very tiny) market by skating as close as possible to existing patents / copyrights / trademarks without actually being sued out of existence. Its kind of like asking what is the technical difference between a "turbo-" marketed product vs a "i-" marketed product.

      Both are basically microscopic core memories. Magnetic field hysteresis, measure magnetic state by trying to force to a given state and seeing how much power it takes, none means its already that state and a bunch means it was the other state.

      There are other theoretical uses for memristors. The killer is both devices are current mode devices, which means they'll almost certainly never be power-competitive with voltage mode devices. The other killer is they are not silicon, so that means scrap all the existing fabs and start over. Plus virtually everything out there is silicon based, so it'll be interesting seeing the hybrid devices. And the fourth killer is that memristor/fram technology is advancing, but mass produced silicon dram is also advancing, in fact for a decade or so has been advancing faster, making "modern core memory" ever less interesting.

      On the other hand, depending on their temperature handling properties, a memristor based CPU that glows dull red with heat might be OK, don't know. I do know that off the shelf silicon for a variety of reasons doesn't "like" working above a couple hundred degrees, but memristors might not have the same limitations.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cats-paw ( 34890 )

        The killer is both devices are current mode devices, which means they'll almost certainly never be power-competitive with voltage mode devices

        you have no way of knowing that at this point in time. it doesn't matter that it's a current operated device , it's power that counts.

        if it takes 1nA @ 1V to enable/disable a memrister then a billion of them will cost you a watt. So what exactly would be the problem ? Based on my understanding of the physics I think it's completely possible that a memrister could be

        • If by current mode you mean that it requires, like a tunnel diode, current to be running at all times to maintain a logic state, that is indeed a strong disincentive for many uses.
      • The titanium dioxide material still seems to represent a significant advance from PZT even if the operating principles are the same.

      • by AdamHaun ( 43173 )

        The killer is both devices are current mode devices, which means they'll almost certainly never be power-competitive with voltage mode devices.

        Are there any voltage mode devices anymore? Flash and DRAM are current mode, and my understanding is that even SRAM uses current mode sensing. I don't work in the FRAM group (I'm a flash guy), but TI's FRAM MCUs are supposed to be super low-power.

        CMOS processes always have to be modified to support nonvolatile memory. Not sure what extra steps memristors would need b

      • Except memristors aren't vapourware. [] Memristors both theoretically exist, have been built in a usable form, and are continuously being improved to the point where they may become useful as the 4th fundamental passive electronic device.

        By saying they are vapourware you're saying that everything was once vapourware which is a complete bastardisation of the term. Memristors like graphine and nanotubes are areas of research which are constantly expanding and developing and have both funding and a serious chance

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Memory? What are you talking about? FRAM makes oil filters MORAN.

  • powers of ten (Score:4, Informative)

    by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @08:18AM (#36139030) Journal

    HP's latest breakthrough was to use highly focused X-rays to pinpoint a channel, just 100 nanometers wide, where the resistance switching takes place. A nanometer is about a millionth of a centimeter.

    [smacks forehead and groans]

    If by "about" you mean "about ten times smaller than".

    • I hate centimetres. They make everything really annoying. All hail engineering notation.
    • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

      The real WTF is 'about'. No, it's EXACTLY that. You're too used to your vague imperial rounding. ;-)

      • Re:powers of ten (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Monday May 16, 2011 @08:28AM (#36139074)
        Er no, a nanometer is a BILLIONTH of a meter, which would make it a 1,000,000,000/100th (a ten millionth) of a centimeter. The guy who wrote TFA somehow thinks a centimeter is a thousandth of a meter. Funny how cent comes from the latin centum meaning 1/100th (which is why there are 100 cents in a dollar, for example), and milli means thousandth, and still people who write "sciency" articles manage to screw them up. THE METRIC SYSTEM IS NOT HARD, PEOPLE.
        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by tepples ( 727027 )


          Then why is it so dang hard for Americans to switch from inches and pounds?

          • Then why is it so dang hard for Americans to switch from inches and pounds?

            From Wikipedia: Inertia is the resistance of any [physical object] to a change in its state of motion or rest, or the tendency of [an object] to resist any change in its motion. It is proportional to an object's mass.

            • by tepples ( 727027 )
              And inertia is measured in kilograms. It's also measured in slugs (which weigh about 32 pounds on earth), but the American public is probably more familiar with the kilo than the slug.
          • by Bengie ( 1121981 )

            Nearly all devices and recipes are in the english system over here. We have no relation to the metric system. When doing math, I convert to metric, do the math, then convert back because it's easier. But when someone says something is 30c, I have no idea if that's hot or cold.

            Not to mention how many hand-written recipes are in english. Who is going to go back through every note written by their relatives/friends/etc and convert it all to metric. To be effective, you would have to convert every oven/book/mea

            • by tepples ( 727027 )

              Who is going to go back through every note written by their relatives/friends/etc and convert it all to metric.

              If people in other countries could, including people in other English-speaking countries, why can't Americans?

            • But when someone says something is 30c, I have no idea if that's hot or cold.

              Double it and add 30; that gets you close enough for most normal temperatures.

              0C = about 30F (32F, to be exact)
              20C = about 70F (68F)
              40C = about 110F (104F)

            • People complained about the dTV transition because their 60 year old TVs no longer worked, even though everyone in the USA got 2 free vouchers for converter boxes.

              No, we got $40 rebate coupons. Also, it wasn't everyone in the USA. At least according to the Wikipedia page, it "would only supply half the 73 million analog TVs not using a pay service", not everyone in the USA.

              (I let mine lapse, twice, since there weren't any of the converter boxes around here for approximately the coupon price.)

          • Then why is it so dang hard for Americans to switch from inches and pounds?

            Why do we spell favorite, behavior, color differently? Because we can. Does anyone really care?

          • Actually we did...back in Lincoln's time. And our current Inch/pound standards are mathematically derived from the meter/kilogram ones. It's just the inertia of the citizenry and in part...they still blame Jimmy Carter for the metric system..even though it's been official here for ages. (The carter administration heavily promoted metricization to bring us into modernity....the Reagan dopes put an end to that)

            • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

              You know what though. We have a huge investment in customary system tooling and you know what the metric system sucks every bit as hard, in the modern world. People who need to do lots of conversions between our customary units learn how and they learn good rules of thumb and math tricks to do so, its no big deal. Nobody does arithmetic by pen and paper any more; its either simple enough to do in your head or its reach for a calculator or computer; many people carry a phone all the time with these featur

              • The problem is the system itself, not the base. Imperial does not use a base, and its units don't relate to each other in any significant way. I find it hard to believe someone is still purposefully oblivious enough to sidetrack like hell and defend the imperial system with semantics.
          • by doug ( 926 )

            It isn't that I can't use metric. It is that I don't want to use metric. I am reasonably comfortable using metric with no (or just minimal) conversions to Imperial units. I know the two systems well enough, and I know which system I prefer.

            The bit I've never gotten is why those who use metric assume that we don't because we are too stupid to do so. It really comes off as being needy and lacking in self confidence. Since there is someone who made a choice different than you, you collectively feel som

        • latin centum meaning 1/100th

          Wrong! Centum means 100. That's why percent means "per 100".

    • Re:powers of ten (Score:5, Informative)

      by stranger_to_himself ( 1132241 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @08:28AM (#36139072) Journal

      Much better article summarising this for the lay person (ie begins by explaining what memresitors are). []

    • by PhilHibbs ( 4537 )

      It's only one order of magnitude. "A centimeter" is something small that everyone can get their head around. "A millionth" is also something that's easy to take in. So he writes, "about a millionth of a centimeter", and he's right. To the general public, it doesn't matter if that's the correct size or if it's actually ten times smaller than that, "about a millionth of a centimeter" is just a way of saying "really, really, really small" in terms that everyone can grasp. "A billionth of a meter", "one ten mil

      • That's why we need measurement units that are easy to understand. Small atoms are about one Angstrom, 10^-10 meter. The next convenient unit is a hair's diameter, about 25*10^-6 meter (1 American mil).

        Henceforth, the units for linear small measurements in the popular press should be Angstroms and hairs.

  • by zrbyte ( 1666979 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @08:19AM (#36139036)
    Here's a link [] (paywall) to the research paper and a free preprint [], if anyone cares to read. These *** news sites are never able to publish a link to the original paper.
    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      These *** news sites are never able to publish a link to the original paper.

      Then we wouldn't need the news sites, (sarcasm tag) unless the reader wants real value added like "A nanometer is about a millionth of a centimeter." (/sarcasm tag)

  • What I find amazing, according to the article, is that the breakthrough is understanding why it works. In nano engineering, they are making things so small that they themselves have to observe what the creature does and then try to discover what they have appeared to have discovered.
    • So that's the piece of news? I remember hearing about HP's memristors since 2007/8, and was intrigued by this reporting...
  • Someone wake me up when I can get a non-volatile petabyte storage device that operates at today's DRAM speeds. Also, I want it to sell for under a hundred bucks, draw less than a watt of power in use, and fit in a one-centimeter cube.


    • by Anonymous Coward

      No, we'll just leave you asleep since none of us particularly care about satisfying your desires.

  • Memristors are most interesting not because of their ability to store data after power is removed, but for their ability to store any value between one and zero (on - no resistance, and off - no current). The non-volatile nature of the circuit will probably lead to early commercialization, but the really cool stuff will happen when people like Stanford's Professor Boahen get their hands on these things. The ability to store data in a non-discrete way will surely help to speed the development of processors t

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