Sunday, May 11, 2008

Meristor: analysis and impacts.

Some cut&paste from other site just to stress the importance of this new device:

"memristor" for memory resistor, would register how much current had passed.

"If memristors can be commercialized, it could lead to very dense, energy-efficient memory chips. Scientists have made devices that function like memristors, but it took a good number of transistors and several capacitors, Williams said. Memristor chips would function like flash memory and retain data even after a computer is turned off, but require less silicon, consume less energy,"
see wikipedia for a good formal description of memristor behaviour.
A memristor effectively stores information because the level of its electrical resistance changes when current is applied. A typical resistor provides a stable level of resistance. By contrast, a memristor can have a high level of resistance, which can be interpreted as a computer as a "1" in data terms, and a low level can be interpreted as a "0." Thus, data can be recorded and rewritten by controlling current. In a sense, a memristor is a variable resistor that, through its resistance, reflects its own history, Williams said.
Engineers could, for example, develop a new kind of computer memory that would supplement and eventually replace today's commonly used dynamic random access memory (D-RAM). Computers using conventional D-RAM lack the ability to retain information once they are turned off. When power is restored to a D-RAM-based computer, a slow, energy-consuming "boot-up" process is necessary to retrieve data stored on a magnetic disk required to run the system.

in my opinion the impact of this new technology (if it will be possible to employing memristor in the current production process ... it is not easy to say that at the current stage) will be very huge. What I see now are, at least,three big important revolutions:
  1. mobile devices (smartphones and ultra-compact notebooks) will have great advantages by the power managment and memory strage capabilities point of view.
  2. The traditional memory hierarchy in the desktop computer will be completley upset. Hard drive as we know them could be disappear and the data access could be tremendously improved.
  3. New kinds of configurable devices could be implemented (and as a consequences much more spatial surface for instruction level spatial computation). --> larger devices for a larger bandwith on data access.



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