×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Memristor Based RAM Could Be Out By 2009

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the new-shiny dept.

Hardware 142

neural.disruption writes "According to the EETimes, HP is announcing that it 'plans to unveil RRAM prototype chips based on memristors with crossbar arrays in 2009.' I don't know if you remember the earlier story about HP Labs proving the existence of the Memristor that had been predicted in 1971 by Leon Chua, and has the nice property of maintaining a memory of the current that passes by it. This could bring us a new type of small non-volatile high-speed RAM at low cost because of the low complexity of the mechanism employed."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

142 comments

Security Concerns (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24158889)

It seems like this will make recovering encryption keys from RAM much easier. If I understand the article correctly, these devices won't automatically clear themselves or decay like conventional RAM. I'm not quite sure I want this thing in my computer until this gets worked out.

Re:Security Concerns (4, Insightful)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#24158933)

True, it's probably not a good idea to have ALL your memory as this stuff, but why not have say, the core OS files (The ones that wont contain any important, private data) stored in this type of memory for that near-instant-on effect? In theory, the OS could stay in RAM and just do a quick verification check to make sure it's not damaged/corrupted in some way (and since it's ALREADY in RAM, it should be lightning quick) and then reload any files that have been, then boom, you're at your desktop in a matter of seconds.
Plus, I doubt it'll actually be as fast as regular RAM anyway, that would be too good to be true, so chances are we'll just see this as a companion to good ol' DDR3/4/WhateverExistsAtTheTime.

It would certainly benefit the likes of embedded devices, set-top boxes and such that are starting to really take the piss with their multi-minute startup times.

Nothing New. (1, Troll)

inTheLoo (1255256) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159097)

Make Memtest [memtest.org] a grub boot option and use it before you travel or put your computer someplace others can get it. Security like that is a bore. I'm going to enjoy better sleep/wake.

A fun question is if cheap ram can help save M$. If the 4GB Vista "sweet spot" is any guide, Windows 7 will require 16 GB. Cheaper faster memory might actually get there but processor and network speed is likely to catch up to Vista at the same time God makes a rock so heavy he can't lift it.

Re:Nothing New. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24159243)

"M$"? Vista? What the hell?

Re:Security Concerns (4, Informative)

AllIGotWasThisNick (1309495) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159099)

near-instant-on effect

Now if only disk IO was actually the major delay in the boot process. You might consider driver initialization, software initialization, network delays, waiting for user interaction, etc.

Re:Security Concerns (4, Insightful)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159391)

Unless, of course, you're waking a computer out of hibernate mode... then it's pretty much all about disk I/O throughput.

If this were possible, it could basically become unnecessary to actually *shut down* your computer.

More importantly, if you suddenly lose (or switch off) power it might be possible to simply pick up where you left off - with some minor firmware tweaks to get the hardware running again without wiping RAM.
=Smidge=

Re:Security Concerns (1)

AllIGotWasThisNick (1309495) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159537)

Isn't that called Suspend-To-RAM? I admit that power savings is power savings, so I'm all for it, but let us not pretend this is some new breakthrough for the PC or anything that can generate a TV output for more than a few minutes (i.e. non battery devices). This is really all about embedded/notebook battery longevity, no?

Re:Security Concerns (3, Informative)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159961)

The difference is current RAM needs to be maintained. Suspend to RAM doesn't help in a power outage and/or dead battery condition.

Otherwise yes, they're pretty much the same thing.
=Smidge=

Re:Security Concerns (1)

AllIGotWasThisNick (1309495) | more than 5 years ago | (#24160167)

power outage

Good call. This could definitely replace a 30-second UPS for convenience, assuming it ever becomes fast/dense enough. Flash would seem to do this already -- do you know if Vista's flash memory extension allow it to simply suspend to flash?

Not quite... (2, Insightful)

goldsaturn (1220086) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159949)

"If this were possible, it could basically become unnecessary to actually *shut down* your computer." Updating your computer is almost complete. You must restart your computer for the effects to take effect. Do you want to restart your computer now?

Re:Security Concerns (2, Insightful)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 5 years ago | (#24161373)

I am the only one thinking of the nightmare that making suspend default in Vista has caused? Get it to work at the software level first please.

Re:Security Concerns (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159575)

I'm curious, I always assumed that the main Bottleneck WAS the Hard drive. Do the things you mentioned really add that much time to the startup of a computer?
My computer's hard drive gets heavily accessed right up to when I see the desktop, surely having the system already in RAM would cut down startup times significantly?

Re:Security Concerns (1)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | more than 5 years ago | (#24161747)

It would cut it down a lot, but a significant amount of the boot process is timeouts waiting for devices/services etc to finish initialising. The hard drive is still being accessed by other processes as multiple tasks load at the same time to reduce the effects of waiting for timeouts. Reducing the need to access the disk during boot will require a rethink to paralleling the boot process.

Re:Security Concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24159611)

Re:Security Concerns (1)

AllIGotWasThisNick (1309495) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159665)

Well, I can hardly argue with YouTube. :(

My personal experiences booting from flash vs. hdd with uClinux is a little different than this demonstration, but who knows.

On a sort-of related note, the stock windows XP SP3 install takes about 45 seconds to boot in VMware vs. the IE "Test" image from Microsoft which takes about 5 seconds to boot. I guess in particular, XP seems quite vulnerable to speeding up the boot sequence. :)

Re:Security Concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24159921)

If all the devices used RRAM, then the drivers would only need to be initialized on a clean boot.

Re:Security Concerns (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 5 years ago | (#24161111)

You might consider driver initialization, software initialization, network delays, waiting for user interaction, etc.

Wouldn't you only have to do this once? Initialize drivers and all that? After all, when you turn the computer 'off', the memory stays. No need to load anything on boot, because it's already there in memory.

Re:Security Concerns (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 5 years ago | (#24161475)

No, devices have their own internal state that needs to be initialised and configured, irqs 'n memory mapped IO registers set, possibly have firmware loaded into its memory, and maybe detect what subdevices are attached to it. You can't expect a device to be in the same state when you power it up as it was when you cut power to it.

Re:Security Concerns (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159149)

Or you could probably have the OS zero out all memory, or just those physical memory frames for whose pages have been marked as needing to be erased (would require application changes, but that wouldn't be the first time).

Re:Security Concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24159821)

The difficulty, as with current RAM is that if power was suddenly interrupted data could stick around in memory. Currently, it only sticks around for a couple minutes at most, but with memristor RAM it would stick around for a lot longer.

Re:Security Concerns (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 5 years ago | (#24161529)

With harddrives it will stick around much longer too... the trick is very simple... don't store stuff in non-volatile memory if you don't want it to be non-volatile! This is not a new problem, and it's very much solved.

Re:Security Concerns (2, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159211)

In theory, the OS could stay in RAM and just do a quick verification check to make sure it's not damaged/corrupted in some way

Reminds me of letting Col. Clink check on the prisoners. Letting the OS "integrity check" itself is an amusing thought and a very, very bad idea.

then boom, you're at your desktop in a matter of seconds.

We get this pipe dream every few years - people talking about the "instant-on" computer. Sleep modes, wake modes, hibernation, etc.

I have an idea: grow a few seconds' worth of patience.

It would certainly benefit the likes of embedded devices, set-top boxes and such that are starting to really take the piss with their multi-minute startup times.

Hmmm... I have an Xbox360, DVD player, DVD/vcr Recorder combo unit, Xbox, PS3, Wii, PS2, and a computer. The only one with a "multi-minute" startup time is the computer. And honestly, that stays on most of the time anyways since its primary purpose is as a NAS for the Xbox to feed media content from (gotta love XBMC).

Other than the computer, my TV is the longest-warming-up item. And that's because it's an lcd projection screen, and has to warm the bulb up.

Where are these "multi-minute startup" devices you're referring to? Let me guess, you grew up on Elmo and your generation has the attention span of a goldfish.

For reference's sake: older CRT televisions/monitors can take as much as a few minutes to fully warm up, and generally 30-45 seconds to wake and warm up. Projectors and most big-screen TV's, same deal. Want to know how long it used to take to fast-forward through the ads in a VHS movie? Actually, it's shorter than trying to get past the adcrap the movie studios are putting on DVD's these days.

And that's not even mentioning the fact that the MafiAA companies are illegally abusing the FBI warning code to prevent you from skipping/fast-forwarding past the aforementioned adcrap.

Re:Security Concerns (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24159393)

> I have an idea: grow a few seconds' worth of patience.

How about grow fuck yourself.

Re:Security Concerns (1)

Symb (182813) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159397)

Carmudgeon :) I _like_ the idea of persistent state. All the goods of leaving the computer on with less energy consumption (of course the fab plant for memristors will probably destroy the environment worse). There seem to be all kinds of fun ideas and paradigm shifts to explore when it comes mainstream.

Re:Security Concerns (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159435)

what are you talkin here....there's already an instant on OS provided via motherboard [cnet.com].

The rest, I agree: integrity check = bad idea. I disagree that for whatever reason long bootup times should just be considered acceptable.

For reference's sake: it only starts at a minute, it ends at multiple minutes after patches, changes, etc. especially on windows and consoles. Not so much on linux.

Re:Security Concerns (2, Informative)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159541)

I like how you've immediately assumed that I'm simply impatient just because YOU'VE never experienced what I'm referring to.
I notice in the list of electronic devices you have, none of them are Satellite/Cable boxes or Tivo-like devices.
I have one such device, it's a Cable box with a hard drive built into it and it takes a solid 2-3mins to start up.
Sure, that's not a big deal, it doesn't really bother me that much since I'm only missing 2-3mins of crap TV, but what does bother me is that the people who make it (Virgin Media, in case you're wondering - and it's British Company, don't want you assuming I'm making something up just because you may not have heard of it) say that you're not supposed to turn it off anyway.
Why would I want to keep such a box on 24/7 if I'm not even going to use it half of the time? Makes sense if I want to record something, sure, but I rarely record something every single day, or during the night when I'm asleep - so why not turn it off? It saves me money on electric and it saves the environment a little.
But I digress, the point is there ARE set-top boxes out there that take a long time to boot, so don't be so ignorant.
Besides, that was just ONE example where this technology could actually prove useful, I don't see you suggesting anything better.

Re:Security Concerns (2)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 5 years ago | (#24160319)

My "digital" cable box doesn't even have a hard drive but if the power goes down for any reason, it can take upwards of five minutes to reboot. If memristor RAM could fix that, I'm all for it.

Re:Security Concerns (2, Funny)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159559)

For reference's sake...

I'd mod you up, but I can't find "+1 Get off my lawn"

Re:Security Concerns (2, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159595)

OS check on power-on would be plenty safe for error checking purposes. It is a pretty basic application of checksumming. In theory, it could fail; but the odds are vanishingly small.

Against malice, I agree, not useful. Of course, if the attacker has arbitrary read/write access to the nonvolatile RAM, it is game over, period. The logical solution would be to move control over the nonvolatile RAM to the system hardware. Just as the BIOS can restrict the system's choice of boot devices, it could lock or unlock access to the nonvolatile RAM. Lots of fiddly implementation possibilities; but the concept is clear.

The main obstacle to instant-on in computers seems to be the ghastly state of peripheral power management support. All sorts of system peripherals have state that needs to be preserved or restored, some of it dependent on outside conditions(network cards, etc.) and support is uneven at best. The fact that ACPI is said to be a bit of a clusterfuck doesn't much help. Even now, with the various suspend modes, we can get within a couple of watts of what nonvolatile RAM would be like; but support for instant on/off is hampered by peripherals being wonky.

Re:Security Concerns (3, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159609)

I have an idea: grow a few seconds' worth of patience.

It's not a matter of patience, it's a matter of eliminating a needlessly slow bottleneck on a system.

To expand upon the GP's point, if you could take 100GB of this stuff and slap it into your memory space you'd never, really, have to hit the hard disk for applications again. This does two things:

- Frees up your DRAM for things that actually change frequently.
- Frees up your hard disk which should be holding things that need long term storage, not execution.

Pair it with 8GB of DRAM or so and I can't see any problems. Sure you'd have to design filesystems to support it, but some already exist with the basic ideas implemented.

Re:Security Concerns (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#24160327)

You can also use it to get a recoverable ramdisk, recoverable disk cache, et cetera. Just imagine rebooting and still having files in cache. Your computer could preload for the boot at shutdown time, so you'd get the benefits of a cold boot, and a preload.

Re:Security Concerns (5, Funny)

merreborn (853723) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159799)

We get this pipe dream every few years - people talking about the "instant-on" computer. Sleep modes, wake modes, hibernation, etc.

I have an idea: grow a few seconds' worth of patience.

Hear, hear! I don't even know why they bothered developing processors after the 386, or anything faster than 1200 baud modems. They worked fine, it's just these damn kids were too impatient to wait 15 hours to download 50 megs, or 3 hours to render a single frame of Doom 3.

Now they want computers to boot faster? I happen to *like* the fact that it takes 15 minutes to get Vista up and running. Gives me a chance to take a nap, or brew some coffee.

Re:Security Concerns (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 5 years ago | (#24160101)

Now they want computers to boot faster? I happen to *like* the fact that it takes 15 minutes to get Vista up and running.

I don't. That's why I stuck with XP. I'm twice as fast as a Vista machine on half the hardware.

Hear, hear! I don't even know why they bothered developing processors after the 386, or anything faster than 1200 baud modems. They worked fine, it's just these damn kids were too impatient to wait 15 hours to download 50 megs, or 3 hours to render a single frame of Doom 3.

There's a difference between going for more power (when you know it's feasible) and just being silly and making unreasonable goals based on diminishing returns (the difference between a boot-up time of, say, 20 and 15 seconds). Improved processors allow you to make a lot more calculations in a shorter time space. This is a good thing. Managing to shave 5 seconds off boot? Not so much so, especially since it offers no other concrete advantages once you're booted.

And the GP even stated that they wanted an "integrity check" on the stuff (or at least on the OS files in it?) on boot. Clock how long it takes to do a memory integrity check of your 4GB RAM sometime. You're going to see it roughly on par for "boot time" on that alone.

Oh, and the reason for needing the memory integrity check? When you have lowered power or (especially) a spike followed by a brown spot in power that could cause the machine to turn off, it doesn't just shut you down cold. Heck, shutting the machine down doesn't immediately shut it down all the way, that's why you are advised to wait a few seconds on a hard reboot. You get all sorts of interesting problems, erroneous calculations, just plain bad data thrown around as the transistors start getting voltages that are out of their normal operating tolerances.

Would you trust a memory image that's been through that? Worse yet, would you trust a memory image of that sort to run an integrity check? No? So guess what - we're back to having to load that memory check routine from another source; hard drive, eeprom, etc.

Now that we've loaded that, of course, we can check the system files against the routine with a checksum, theoretically speaking.

But now what do we do with all the other data required for a "restore" of a powered-down system, one of the most popular pipe dreams of these ideas? Do we have a set of checks for each file in there? Where did we store it? How long will it take to check it? Are we recalculating it constantly on the fly, are we keeping a parity check bit for it in the same (problematic) storage and using space for that?

How much space, and extra processor overhead, will it take to ensure with even 90% confidence that you didn't get corrupt data back in your videogame when you powered the comp back up from an unexpected power outage?

If you have a system that updates a LOT less frequently with a lot less complexity... then you have a system that might as well just keep its system state on a pair of revolving images on the hard disk anyways. Only write to one at a time and you "know" with pretty good confidence that the other one should be good after a power outage.

Re:Security Concerns (4, Insightful)

x2A (858210) | more than 5 years ago | (#24161675)

"Managing to shave 5 seconds off boot? Not so much so, especially since it offers no other concrete advantages once you're booted"

What if you're a kernel, or bootloader developer? Saving 5 out of 20 seconds boot time means you're spending 25% less time waiting while you're testing. And that was just off the top of my head!

"we're back to having to load that memory check routine from another source"

That's really not that big a deal.

"of the most popular pipe dreams of these ideas? Do we have a set of checks for each file in there? Where did we store it? How long will it take to check it? Are we recalculating it constantly on the fly...?"

Um... ZFS? End to end checksumming? Pipe dream? Just because you've not heard of it being done, doesn't make it magic.

"might as well just keep its system state on a pair of revolving images on the hard disk anyways" ...because harddrives don't fail or need to be checked?

Re:Security Concerns (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159957)

Reminds me of letting Col. Clink check on the prisoners. Letting the OS "integrity check" itself is an amusing thought and a very, very bad idea.

I'd be curious to find out how you think operating systems bootstrap themselves currently.

Re:Security Concerns (2, Interesting)

epp_b (944299) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159995)

You forgot the "get off my lawn!" part at the end of your comment.

Seriously, get over yourself. Instant-on computing isn't just something we want because we're impatient. It's very convenient and productive.

I've stopped shutting my computer down every night in favour of using standby mode. Particularly on a laptop, it works very well. It takes two seconds to go into standby where it's drawing just enough power (read: almost nothing) to retain the data in memory. Then, in the morning when I bring out of standby, it takes only ten seconds until my session from the night before is conveniently restore and I can pick up right where I left off. Sure, a few applications don't like it -- PuTTY's connections are dropped, my email client occasionally balks at not having had a network connection -- but merely reopening a few SSH sessions and clearing my email error log is a whole lot better than a three minute wait from a cold boot and spending another ten minutes getting all my programs running and back how they were (that includes starting up my VMWare virtual machines which, by the way, are completely unaffected by going in and out of standby mode).

Re:Security Concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24160979)

Even by Slashdot standards, you're a pretentious twat.

Letting the OS "integrity check" itself is an amusing thought and a very, very bad idea.

Self-integrity checks are a fundamental component of all real OSes and they work just fine. They're vulnerable to tampering, but then tamper-resistance isn't necessary or even desirable in most cases.

We get this pipe dream every few years - people talking about the "instant-on" computer. Sleep modes, wake modes, hibernation, etc. I have an idea: grow a few seconds' worth of patience.

My computer takes six minutes to boot if it has USB drives attached. Not only is this a giant pain in the ass, but it forces me to leave my computer on all the time. Instead I keep it on standby constantly. If my computer could boot with reasonable speed, I might use the off button occasionally.

Admittedly it will take a lot more than just non-volatile memory to make booting fast, but non-volatile memory was not the subject of your troll.

Think even eviller, perma-OS (1)

Symb (182813) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159371)

Imagine your proprietary OS comes in RAM (separate from user RAM). They use the GPL2 firmware loophole to goat you like tivo did with the linux kernel. Sure you have the source, but you can't meaningfully modify the image.

Re:Security Concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24159625)

Well, considering it takes up to 60ns to get a single bit of data out of RAM. (Depending on FSB etc.)

And also taking into account that these things can theoretically hold analog states...

That means that these things can have multiple states per 'cell' and now your read time just went down to 1/4th of 50ns. Because .25r = 0101 and .26r = 0111 and etc, etc etc.

Now, can they design the support structures that can measure the resistance accurately and quickly so our new toys will function with possibly dozens of states per cell?

IDK

But it will be VERY interesting if they get there. 50ns isn't that fast in geek land until you're ripping 4 or 8 or 16 bits of data out of each cell instead of 1 bit.

Re:Security Concerns (1)

neural.disruption (1290844) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159685)

Well you can always clean it before shutdown, it should be fast and I doubt its easy to recover from that, as for the speed I don't see how can a memory made from discrete components be slower than a circuit, its just a matter of time and miniaturization also no-one can complain about the price, its far more expensive to use MOSFETs to make a bit.

Also being able of keeping a memory of the current that passed it I wonder if it can be of good use in making neural networks(the non-simulated type).

Re:Security Concerns (1)

BagOBones (574735) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159199)

Since it is ALREADY a problem with conventional RAM, it will only make the issue a little worse.

Security and encryption software could be written in such a way that before memory is freed is is randomized.

I am sure it could be added to the OS layer of memory management as well so that all free memory gets randomized.

Re:Security Concerns (3, Insightful)

Ortega-Starfire (930563) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159207)

So don't let people have physical access to your computer. Or invest in a thermite/C4 charge inside your computer. Or both.

Re:Security Concerns (1)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 5 years ago | (#24160793)

But where would you put the charge? Oh, I know - C4 is pliable, it can be disguised as thermal compound! Be tidy though, it detonates when electrified...

Re:Security Concerns (1)

mo (2873) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159759)

Wow, that's a good point. And since it actually stores it's bits in an analog storage medium, you could in theory recover data from the memristors even after they've been written over, just like they do with magnetic drives.

Re:Security Concerns (1)

nobodyman (90587) | more than 5 years ago | (#24160191)

It's not necessarily a RAM replacement. I for one would love a SSHD that was as fast as(or perhaps slightly slower than) main system RAM.

Re:Security Concerns (1)

sennyk (1046330) | more than 5 years ago | (#24160595)

If you are worried about key recovery, then you should only run FIPS approved software. I'm surprised that any open source developer would not clear keys after use.

Re:Security Concerns (2, Interesting)

Shadow-isoHunt (1014539) | more than 5 years ago | (#24161051)

You know I've posted this on /. like three or four times now and you'd think it'd be more common knowledge by now... but getting encryption keys from RAM is pretty trivial. It's called a cold boot attack.

http://citp.princeton.edu/memory/ [princeton.edu]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_boot_attack [wikipedia.org]

This attack was sort of one that was under the hat of pentesters and hobbyists until a few months ago when it was rather a do-it-yourself thing, but then McGrew Security made a followup PoC - http://mcgrewsecurity.com/projects/msramdmp/ [mcgrewsecurity.com] to the Princeton paper. I played with it right after it came out, and then awhile later threw up a tutorial on remote-exploit. Now, Mati Aharoni's a really smart guy and most assuredly knew about the PoC before I did, but shortly after the tutorial and some discussion on IRC, it's now in BackTrack 3 (http://www.remote-exploit.org/backtrack.html [remote-exploit.org]) as a syslinux boot option putting the attack within the reach of everyone.

http://tourian.jchost.net/shadow/liveusb/boot.png [jchost.net]

Getting the encryption keys out of the ram dump isn't a point and click operation, but the code's out there and it compiles. People are walking around right now with this on their USB key, and it's the sort of attack that is a real problem that physical access and untrusted users present now. Even without the encryption keys, you've still got the contents of previous webpages, cookies, IM conversations, unencrypted files, and everything else in RAM. Disabling boot from USB doesn't matter much because you can just use a grub CD, and carry around a laptop drive and do dumps on multiple machines. Hell, if you felt like dealing with it you could make it a PXE image... even disabling both boot from USB and CD, most cases in public places(think Dell) can be quickly popped open with the power still on and the BIOS jumper tripped.

Things like this should make you really nervous if you were freaking out about Microsoft's little COFEE ( http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/04/29/1441215&from=rss [slashdot.org] ) toy, since it's no more impressive than a customized "Gonzor's Payload" U3 USB Drive ( http://wiki.gonzor228.com/index.php/SBConfig [gonzor228.com] ) with a Microsoft Sticker and this is quite a bit more, well, dirty.

non-volatile high-speed RAM... (5, Funny)

oneal13rru (1322741) | more than 5 years ago | (#24158899)

well, I'm certainly glad my RAM will stop exploding inside my PC on a daily basis... driving me insane!!!

Re:non-volatile high-speed RAM... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24159065)

So thats why you spent 6 months in that nice padded cell.

Re:non-volatile high-speed RAM... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24159349)

Volatile actually means something that evaporates easily, not something that explodes.

Re:non-volatile high-speed RAM... (1)

oneal13rru (1322741) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159803)

volÂaÂtile Audio Help /ËvÉ'lÉ(TM)tl, -tÉl or, especially Brit., -ËOEtaÉl/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[vol-uh-tl, -til or, especially Brit., -tahyl] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation â"adjective 1. evaporating rapidly; passing off readily in the form of vapor: Acetone is a volatile solvent. 2. tending or threatening to break out into open violence; explosive: a volatile political situation. 3. changeable; mercurial; flighty: a volatile disposition. 4. (of prices, values, etc.) tending to fluctuate sharply and regularly: volatile market conditions. 5. fleeting; transient: volatile beauty. 6. Computers. of or pertaining to storage that does not retain data when electrical power is turned off or fails. 7. able to fly or flying. â"noun 8. a volatile substance, as a gas or solvent. [Origin: 1250â"1300; ME

I got Spurs (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24158921)

that Jingle Jangle Jingle.........

Flash Killer (4, Insightful)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 5 years ago | (#24158973)

If this stuff actually works as promised, it will be way faster and longer-lived (in terms of write cycles) than flash. 50nS is pretty slow compared to DRAM, but for flash replacement it should be pretty zippy. Especially if there's no need to do block erase and rewrites.

Re:Flash Killer (4, Funny)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159057)

I'm still holding out for isolinear chips.

Re:Flash Killer (1)

Ortega-Starfire (930563) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159259)

Pah. We upgraded to those centuries ago. What are you using, Duotronic systems? Come on man. Get with the future times.

Signed,
Ortega-Starfire
Former/Future science officer, U.S.S. Relativity

Re:Flash Killer (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159333)

Isolinear? Isolinear??! When you could be running Tarriel Cell technology?

Re:Flash Killer (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159343)

Just don't let anyone with a head cold near your precious neural gel-paks, or else your doctor will have the whole crew running around injecting the computer's network systems with theraflu cold/sinus every 4 hours.

Plus, it's a bitch when the computer controlling the engines sneezes.

Re:Flash Killer (1)

TrekkieGod (627867) | more than 5 years ago | (#24161521)

We upgraded to those centuries ago. What are you using, Duotronic systems?

I tried upgrading to Multitronics, but my computer refused to accept that the games I was playing were just games. It became paranoid and tried to kill my online opponents in real life.

Luckily, I managed to convince it that murder was immortal, and it committed suicide before killing anyone important.

Re:Flash Killer (2, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159287)

I always thought the industry was too conservative to allow chips to Flash. Seriously, this is going to have serious potential in the solid-state disk arena, but will probably not affect firmware and BIOSes as you don't update or access those a vast amount. For SSDs, you really want this for the bulk storage but battery-backed RAM for transaction logging and caching as you don't need those to be longer-lived than the time it needs to complete a full transaction.

(Ideally, you'd have battery-backed "smart RAM" that can complete transactions into memristor storage even if disconnected from a main computer and power supply. Then you'd have something that was not only fast but proof against most idiots. Not all, as idiots are so inventive, but most.)

Re:Flash Killer (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159931)

Seriously, this is going to have serious potential in the solid-state disk arena, but will probably not affect firmware and BIOSes as you don't update or access those a vast amount.

It can potentially make them much cheaper, because a memristor is a simpler element.

Re:Flash Killer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24159457)

longer-lived (in terms of write cycles) than flash

You could just buy flash with wear leveling so it will last effectively forever. Can you even buy flash without wear leveling anymore?

RAMBUS should sue! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24158977)

I'm sure they'll filing the patents as we speak.

Still not holding my breath (4, Interesting)

default luser (529332) | more than 5 years ago | (#24158979)

They've been saying they'll give us affordable NVRAM without the drawbacks of flash for years, and it still hasn't happened.

MRAM - fast, but not as fast as DRAM. Very low-density.
PRAM - more volatile than flash, because it can change state spontaneously based on temperature (thermally written).
FeRAM - can't be made with cutting-edge processes, and even then can't match the density of flash.
CBRAM - still experimental.

I'll just be surprised if HP can just produce a memory module that is as fast a DRAM, let alone as high-capacity as flash.

Re:Still not holding my breath (1)

Phybertekie (975815) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159151)

I wonder if they are going to call is SuperRam - Capable of turning a EEE PC into a pocket supercomputer

Re:Still not holding my breath (2, Informative)

fpgaprogrammer (1086859) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159341)

I'm currently using Magneto-RAM [freescale.com] in a project. I'm also interested in the development of Carbon Nanotube-based NRAM from Nantero [nantero.com]. Density is more important than speed for most NV storage applications. Unless the cost structure and density changes substantially vs Flash ROM, these types of exotic NV RAMs are going to be useful only in situations that require a lot of write accesses: like storing the directory info for a cheaper/larger Flash-ROM array which can't support as many write cycles. Even in these situations the exotic NV RAMs are just a replacement for SRAM and a Battery which is cheaper because the structure, processes and materials are standard.

Re:Still not holding my breath (4, Interesting)

mo (2873) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159711)

Every single example you list above is based on the transistor. Sure, there's lots of variations (MRAM using magnets, PRAM using chalcogenide glass, FeRAM using a ferroelectric layer, etc.), but these are all basically: glue stuff on a transistor to store data.

Memristor-based RRAM is different. It doesn't use transistors at all. This is truly a departure from all of the exsting RAM technologies, and while the prospect of RRAM storage is pretty cool, the possibility of analog computing using memristors is even neater. I'm cautiously optimistic that this technology is going to take computing in some interesting directions.

Re:Still not holding my breath (2, Interesting)

georgewilliamherbert (211790) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159969)

The mechanics of how these work make producing compact high speed arrays easy.

The circuit element is just two stacked planar layers between an underlying and overhead wire. Look at the electron microscope images to see what a row of them looks like... they're no bigger than the contact areas of the wires. A chip of these would be a grid of vertical wires, the active layers, then a grid of horizontal layers. The packing density is approximately wire spacing density.

Speed is good - you send a moderate voltage down one side and see if you get strong or weak signals out the far side, so it's essentially no delay other than speed of electron travel.

Skepticism is one thing. There could be all sorts of gotchas going from a small test area to large chips of this. But the fundamental method of operation is fast and the fundamental area is small, and it works at test scale. This is an extremely promising technology.

Nitpicking, I know, but... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24158993)

Technically, he predicted the existence of a non-linear memristor. A linear memristor is exactly the same thing as regular resistor.

Re:Nitpicking, I know, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24159761)

Uh, show me a resistor that changes its value and stores that new resistance after you remove power, with no moving parts. This is definitely a fundamentally new component.

Re:Nitpicking, I know, but... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24160093)

If I recall my signal processing terminology correctly, this is still a linear device, but it's time-varying. A resistor is linear and time invariant.

Re:Nitpicking, I know, but... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24160671)

Technically, he predicted the existence of a non-linear memristor. A linear memristor is exactly the same thing as regular resistor.

Actually you are wrong, it has nothing to do with what you've said.
The resistance of a memristor changes with current and direction of the current. It will increase when it flows one way and decrease otherwise.
A resistor has always the same resistance(with a small margin of error)regardless the direction of the current and the current.
A linear memristor would be some memristor that would increase and decrease the resistance in a linear way that has nothing to do with resistors.

NV RAM? Drool... (1)

PseudoThink (576121) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159071)

If only my memory weren't so volatile, I'd remember to buy HP stock as soon as I hear that memristor memory will perform as well as current DDR-RAM.

Low cost? (3, Insightful)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159271)

An emerging technology being offered at low cost? I highly doubt it. Not that it isn't a simple mechanism (at least according to the article), but I can't imagine anyone selling them for less than the cost of standard RAM...at least, not for a few years or heavy adoption.

Re:Low cost? (1)

Mistshadow2k4 (748958) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159897)

Agreed. It doesn't matter how little it costs them to make, they'll charge big bucks for it as long as they can. I wouldn't be surprised if it was introduced at double the current going price of RAM of equal capacity.

Still 10 years away... (0)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159365)

No commercial applications until 2018. Nothing to see here, move along.

Re:Still 10 years away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24159657)

Read closer. That was for analog memristors (memristor "synapses"), not digital.

Re:Still 10 years away... (1)

ejamie (765128) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159683)

Actually, the initial non-volative applications are expected to arrive in 2009. It is the second--and I think more interesting--application of the technology that is 5-10 years out... Specifically, memresistors with "tunable resistance" that are expected to be used in neural network applications:

It will also use a similar crossbar architecture to harness precise resistance change in an analog circuit. HP Labs claims that massive memristor arrays with tunable resistance at each crossbar could enable brain-like learning. In the brain, a synapse is strengthened whenever current flows through it, similar to the way resistance is lowered by flowing current through a memristor. Such neural networks could learn to adapt by allowing current to flow in either direction as needed. "RRAMs are our near term goal, but our second target for memristors, in the long term, is to transform computing by building adaptive control circuits that learn," said Stewart. "Analog circuits using electronic synapses will require at least five more years of research."

Re:Still 10 years away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24160395)

Is there such a word as volative? In English, I mean.

Re:Still 10 years away... (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159781)

Before anyone mods parent as informative, a quote from the article (near the end):

"RRAMs are our near term goal, but our second target for memristors, in the long term, is to transform computing by building adaptive control circuits that learn," said Stewart. "Analog circuits using electronic synapses will require at least five more years of research."

So they're looking at future applications where devices would store 'gray scale' type of information, as opposed to 'black & white' that's used in current computer-style devices. 'Black & white' type devices should be out somewhere next year, and I doubt it will take a giant like HP long to go from prototype to commercial devices.

Re:Still 10 years away... (1)

TeknoDragon (17295) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159953)

TFA says that digital memristor products will be out much sooner than the analog "synapse emulating" circuits. It seems you're trolling or confused the two.

You want an instant-on computer? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159723)

Buy a Tandy MC-10 or CoCo 2/3, or a Commodore 64/128. They boot under a second.

"Brain-like" applications of the technology? (1)

ejamie (765128) | more than 5 years ago | (#24159777)

HP Labs claims that massive memristor arrays with tunable resistance at each crossbar could enable brain-like learning. In the brain, a synapse is strengthened whenever current flows through it, similar to the way resistance is lowered by flowing current through a memristor. Such neural networks could learn to adapt by allowing current to flow in either direction as needed.

"RRAMs are our near term goal, but our second target for memristors, in the long term, is to transform computing by building adaptive control circuits that learn," said Stewart. "Analog circuits using electronic synapses will require at least five more years of research."

The second application for this technology is strengthening of interconnections, like in neural-networks. I am visualizing here a computer being able to burn in memory images, like the human brain burns in an image--except the computer would be able to have photographic memory. Could this give AI applications a real human-like memory? Anyone else feel like these type of projects are real-world Cyberdyne systems T101 prototypes...

huuuuge cheap tiny memory (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 5 years ago | (#24160375)

If new memory technology actually increased a mere 1% for each story slashdot has posted regarding it, then memory would be petabytes in a single tiny chip that used essentially no power by now.

(ok, sorry, I based this upon http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=611631&cid=24158367 [slashdot.org], which I had read just a few minutes before.. but both kinds of stories do show up very often -- though I'm not complaining.)

Er... does anybody else find "memristor"... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 5 years ago | (#24160519)

... to be a bit difficult to pronounce?

Every time I say the word out loud, it sounds like I'm slightly slurring the words "memory stir", which I'm pretty sure is wrong.

I think it's the 'm' immediately followed by an 'r' that makes it a bit awkward... are there any other english words that have this particular trait?

Re:Er... does anybody else find "memristor"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24160743)

Mr.

Strong AI? Analog circuits rock! (1)

ndelta (1102663) | more than 5 years ago | (#24160529)

Hello! 75 comments in already and no one mentions the most interesting part about this article. Analog circuits that learn, in five years!!!! Am I missing something? Isn't this huge for AI research? I'm serious. I am a layman but, this brings to my mind many additional benefits than "instant on" computers. How about computers that think and learn like we do? Also, an analog memristor could hold more than two values. Wouldn't this mean HUGE memory densities would be available? Are these ideas ridiculous or is the singularity even closer?

Re:Strong AI? Analog circuits rock! (1)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 5 years ago | (#24160799)

Your exactly right! A memristor should be able to simulate a complex neural-network. I don't know about strong A.I, but I can see how these could scale to millions of connections.

Multi-State... (1)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 5 years ago | (#24161023)

...could be interesting, depending on the signal to noise ratio when these things are used to store non-saturated resistance values. Especially if it can be controlled in steps of 256 (8 bits per cell), 65536 (16 bits per cell), etc.

Re:Strong AI? Analog circuits rock! (2, Interesting)

calidoscope (312571) | more than 5 years ago | (#24161123)

And to think that my first analog circuits class was taught by prof Leon Chua...

and with this post... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24160581)

Rambus runs to the patent office! Why would anyone announce new memory technolgy, knowing Rambus will steal it!?? STFU until it is finished!

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...