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HP Creates First Hybrid Memristor Chip

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the stitch-in-time dept.

HP 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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Wow the implications are staggering (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25887687)

I might be able to see what Crysis looks like with all the options on

Hybrid, eh? (2, Funny)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887699)

But does it get better gas mileage??

Unsurprisingly, yes (4, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889875)

The book The Bottomless Well [amazon.com] 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.

Well that was faster than expected... (5, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Well that was faster than expected... (4, Insightful)

Xerolooper (1247258) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887819)

It depends on whether they realize how bad the economic situation is. Right now they still think we are in a recension. The old business model of innovation to drive sales is valid in that circumstance. If they start to think we are going into a depression *cough* then they will cut off research and start fortifying existing tech. I for one hope this technology has enough momentum to carry it through.

Re:Well that was faster than expected... (4, Funny)

swaq (989895) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888031)

Right now they still think we are in a recension.

We're in a critical revision of a text?

Re:Well that was faster than expected... (5, Funny)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888073)

Yes, the U.S. Constitution.

Thank you! I'll be here all week!

Re:Well that was faster than expected... (2, Funny)

lenester (625236) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889305)

Parent is currently modded Insightful. While this is not inaccurate, it turns the joke a little sour. :(

Re:Well that was faster than expected... (1)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889421)

I'm afraid it's a little too early to mod him "funny."

Re:Well that was faster than expected... (1)

TheGeniusIsOut (1282110) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888663)

If they start to think we are going into a depression *cough* then they will cut off research and start fortifying existing tech.

It is unfortunate that many tech companies take this approach, but if you look back to the 2001 tech bubble burst, the companies that came out ahead of the rest with a better market position were the ones that put more money into R&D. Hopefully HP will keep moving forward with this line of research, they have made amazing strides in advacing this realm of electronics. We desparately need to move away from our current form of memory technology that is 30+ years old in its transistor based design. Memristor and quantum data storage are the computer technologies of the future, and I for one cannot wait to get ahold of a pocket computer with entangled photon links back to a centralized quantum computer system. The future is bright indeed, now where did I put those shades...

Re:Well that was faster than expected... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888871)

There is no commonly agreed upon definition for "a depression". So it's mostly a nonsense word. We are probably in a recession. I don't think the numbers have come back yet to show two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth.

We may be in for a really bad recession, but you can't say "we're in for a depression" since it has no meaning.

Re:Well that was faster than expected... (1)

lenester (625236) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889349)

"Recession" is also not formally defined, and the rule of thumb you quote has little meaning when GDP is measured in a currency which can be inflated by the same individuals deciding whether or not we're "in a recession."

Re:Well that was faster than expected... (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889885)

If HP have *any* brains at all, they'll cut everything else they have going on to bring this to market.

If everything works out, the development of this technology could almost be as important as the development of the transistor was in the 20th century.

Now, can we start pooling out money to buy this technology from of HP to put in the public domain for the benefit of mankind?

From the article (5, Insightful)

KalvinB (205500) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888081)

"Williams says. Still, he predicts that memristors will arrive in commercial circuits within the next three years."

It seems fast because nobody was talking about these things for the last 30 years. It's only because of technological advances in circuit printing and general computing that we can make these things and integrate them without having to develop a lot of additional technology. The transistor is very old but only after developing a lot of supporting tech have we been able to shrink them down to fit billions in a processor. That same tech can already be applied to memristors. We don't need to wait decades before we can shrink a memristor down to practical levels for ICs.

Re:Well that was faster than expected... (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888173)

So when will we see commercially available devices?

The article says around three years, and from what I understood initially could be used to lower the cost and/or lower the size and/or increase the performance of FPGA circuits amongst other applications, but the memristor knowledge isn't widespread in the development community.

Re:Well that was faster than expected... (4, Insightful)

mo (2873) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888333)

The reason that memristors were so quick to market is that they were discovered while researching new fabrication processes. This isn't like, say, carbon nanotubes where they're able to make one or two in a lab. For memristors, they had a fabrication process from day one.

Re:Well that was faster than expected... (3, Funny)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888349)

Am I the only when that thought memristors would remain the the 5-10 year category for the next couple of decades?...So when will we see commercially available devices?

In 5-10 years.

Re:Well that was faster than expected... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888741)

How many blacks were involved in the production of this device?

I think we all know the answer...

Re:Well that was faster than expected... (1)

FlyByPC (841016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25890085)

Let's help them move it forward. Anyone else here think it would be worth $20 or so to get even one memristor to play with? How about cashing in on it a bit by making up a couple thousand simple units for us electronics geeks to drool over and pay them way too much for?

Re:Well that was faster than expected... (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 5 years ago | (#25890499)

I think just one would be a waste of money. It would probably still be $100, and you could only store 1 bit of information on it.

Re:Well that was faster than expected... (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#25890877)

I was surprised that they announced it. I think that we will soon see companies keeping things like this quiet for about a year or more and then pushing hard to create a device. In this case, the flash memory approach would have put them in total control of the market.

size? (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887765)

Does anyone know what size features the chip was etched at? um? nm? That might give a clue how close it is to being used in other products.

Re:size? (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887847)

Does anyone know what size features the chip was etched at? um? nm? That might give a clue how close it is to being used in other products.

m. It could be a while.

Re:size? (3, Interesting)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888383)

You joke but look at this

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memristor#Titanium_dioxide_memristor [wikipedia.org]

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:size? (3, Insightful)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888649)

the plots appear to be generated by a mathematical model rather than a laboratory experiment

This is what I would say "NEXT!" for, but to each their own.

Re:size? (3, Informative)

DoubleReed (565061) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889679)

1Hz? Next!

The application they talk about is the programmable transistors in FPGAs.

You can find FPGAs in all kinds of consumer electronics. Typically, the chip has some onboard flash from which it loads its configuration during power on. These transistors which load from flash during power on are the ones the researchers are talking about replacing with memresistors (memristors?). For this kind of application, a 1Hz write speed is completely reasonable. The write will be done once in the factory.

Not going anywhere for a while? (1)

Guppy (12314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25890025)

m. It could be a while.

No problem. I got my Snickers bar right here.

Re:size? (5, Informative)

The-Pheon (65392) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887859)

Does anyone know what size features the chip was etched at? um? nm? That might give a clue how close it is to being used in other products.

The memristors made in April were 50 nm wide

Re:size? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888313)

I believe yours says Etch-a-Sketch on the side.

Re:size? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888575)

with a Dorito Chip Inside (TM)

Spice model (3, Insightful)

kmahan (80459) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887831)

Is there a spice model available?

Re:Spice model (5, Informative)

TheNecromancer (179644) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888355)

Who is the idiot modding this as Funny? A SPICE model is an engineering tool used to diagram circuits. It is NOT related to any of the Spice Girls!!! :p

Where's the link to MetaModerate?? grrr...

Re:Spice model (1)

uberjack (1311219) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888593)

Maybe the parent should've capitalized SPICE properly then? Not everyone's an engineer

Re:Spice model (1)

vistic (556838) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888789)

I don't know... I didn't get my degree in EE or anything, but I was able to guess what "spice" was from the context.

So I say it's no excuse.

Re:Spice model (3, Funny)

TheRealZero (907390) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889757)

This just in! Slashdot user raises bar for standard knowledge level! Education officials work feverishly to update curriculum!

Re:Spice model (1)

Salgat (1098063) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889093)

I thought it was funny, considering it's not even available yet and someones already asking about such a thing :P Don't worry, some of us do know use programs like pspice and think it's funny.

Re:Spice model (1)

Stile 65 (722451) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888393)

FTA:

Ultimately, the next few years could be very important for memristor research. Right now, "the biggest impediment to getting memristors in the marketplace is having [so few] people who can actually design circuits [using memristors]," Williams says. Still, he predicts that memristors will arrive in commercial circuits within the next three years.

So probably not yet. From what I've seen just from a quick Google search, it will involve updating not just the models but the core code as well. [cadence.com]

Re:Spice model (4, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888767)

I think you could build one from components if you had data about the memristance function. Start with a voltage controlled resistance element (Gxxx) connected to the two exposed terminals. Add a hidden element of a current controlled current source, sensing on the VCR element, injecting current into a hidden capacitor. The voltage on that capacitor is proportional to the total charge that has passed through the memristor device. The exposed VCR element senses voltage on the hidden capacitor, and uses an interpolated table of resistance vs voltage rather than a linear relationship.

That doesn't capture the hysteretic behavior of the current devices, which stop integrating at the some limiting points, but it's a starting point. You could add such behavior with a few more hidden components (back-to-back ideal zeners across the hidden cap, for example), though getting the right behavior might be a little tricky.

Unfortunate (0, Flamebait)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887909)

Unfortunately, when Williams unveiled the device no one understood what he'd said and he was forcibly taken to the local emergency room for fear he was having a stroke.

I get it, its a hybridization of technologies, but that does not require a name which is so ridiculous to pronounce. Say it outload a few times.

Now, who wants to try their hand at coming up with a better name?

Re:Unfortunate (1)

paul248 (536459) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888143)

"Hybrid memristor-transistor chip" doesn't really sound ridiculous to me. Would you have preferred he created a marketing name to describe a new fundamental technology?

Current technology contains stuff like "metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors," we just don't call them that very often.

Re:Unfortunate (1)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888425)

Hymtric?

MOSFET is a pretty common "spoken acronym" in the electronics world.

Re:Unfortunate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888731)

I prefer a MemTran

Mm, sounds yummy.

Re:Unfortunate (4, Interesting)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Unfortunate (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888929)

The same thing strikes me when pedantics here on slashdot start throwing fits over the difference between GB and GiB.

Gibibyte, Mebibyte, Kibibyte, Tebibyte. Horrible, horrible words that make you sound like you're mumbling, and they look ridiculous in print as well. I think the problem stems from that they go i -> i and e -> i coupled with extra 'b's whereas the SI prefixes go i -> a, e -> a, and i -> o.

Re:Unfortunate (1)

chihowa (366380) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889841)

Along the same lines, have you seen the symbol [wikimedia.org] shown in the Wikipedia article. WTF?! Are they trying to make it impossible to freehand draw circuits?

Re:Unfortunate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25889927)

Yes, it's an evil plot by the shadowy EE CAD megacorps.

Actually, if you can't hand-draw that you fail at hand drawing.

Re:Unfortunate (5, Funny)

memristance (1285036) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889873)

I'm standing right here, you insensitive clod!!

Re:Unfortunate (3, Funny)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889923)

Wow...this is awkward...

Re:Unfortunate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25890865)

Memoristor? Memoristance?

Re:Unfortunate (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25891475)

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.

Pronounce it as mem-reh-store. That flows just as easily as trans-zis-store.

Unfortunate:Commitment. (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888875)

"Now, who wants to try their hand at coming up with a better name?"

Hysterical Electronics:They lose their cool before you do.

Re:Unfortunate (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889179)

How about autopot as in auto potentiometer? Since it is a potentiometer that gets set automatically instead of manually.

Re:Unfortunate (4, Funny)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889237)

Maybe...so long as it isn't constantly fighting deceptipons.

Autopots! Transist and roll out!

Re:Unfortunate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25889785)

How about autopot as in auto potentiometer?

pothead, potato, memento, memracitor, meme, memfoo, sexyistor, sticker, taristor, trapistor

Nope, I think memristor is a fitting name for this odd duck.
Just leave it to the designers to come up with a better one for something that uses a memristor (like darlington pair), which eventually becomes synonymous with the memristor itself. (like IC & chip)

Designers rule!

yam isna guna du yun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25887937)

When did English become the second choice of language on this site?!?!?!?

WTF is recension???

"would remain the the 5-10 year category"

It's fortunate for you guys I'm proficient in Numbnutsien!!

How does it replace multiple transistors (1)

uburoy (1118383) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887949)

I am no specialist but I can't figure out how the fact that a memristor "remembers" its resistance makes it replace multiple transistors. And if that is true for only some type of calculations which ones and why ?

Re:How does it replace multiple transistors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888035)

At the beginning, we had V=IR. Then we had ... oh I give up.

Sorry, can't give an answer in under a volume on circuit theory. And that's not even touching the next question.

Re:How does it replace multiple transistors (2, Interesting)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:How does it replace multiple transistors (5, Informative)

IceMonkiesForSenate (1316211) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888079)

In general there are two ways to store data (at least in a RAM type memory module). You can either use a capacitor (like DRAM) or a flip flop (SRAM). The problem with a capacitor is that it looses it's charge after a certain amount of time, and has to be refreshed (which is why DRAM is relatively slow). A flip-flop can be used to store one bit, but in order to do that two separate latches are needed. One latch has 2-4 gates each having 2-8 transistors. All of a sudden there are over a dozen transistors used to store one but. A memristior does not actually help any calculations, it just hopefully make storing data much more efficent

Re:How does it replace multiple transistors (3, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888843)

Modern SRAMs usually use fewer transistors than that. 6T SRAMs are common, for example. They use a pair of inverters to store the state (4 transistors) and a pair of transistors to connect the inverters to the data lines (6 total). The write operation then involves a drive signal with more power than the inverters, thus forcing the state change.

Re:How does it replace multiple transistors (2, Insightful)

thechuckbenz (526254) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889981)

Careful with your comments there - DRAM is relatively slow because the capacitors used are tiny, so sensing the charge state is slow. The need to refresh is because it's a capacitor with non-zero leakage. Refresh cycles sometimes will delay normal accesses, but are not the reason that DRAM is slower than SRAM. The speed of memresistor memory reads will depend on the speed of sensing the state, and the speed of writes will depend on the speed of changing the flux.

Re:How does it replace multiple transistors (2, Informative)

Chirs (87576) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888409)

They can replace SRAM cells, which take multiple transistors. They also retain state without needing power (similar to FeRAM, which can also replace SRAM). However, unlike FeRAM the memristor can also store analog values.

In the digital realm they're likely useful mostly as memory. However, given the analog properties, they could be useful in creating "fuzzy" neural nets.

Re:How does it replace multiple transistors (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889555)

All resistors "remember their resistance". What the memristor does is something quite different and outside the range of comprehension of the author of the linked article. Go read the Wikipedia article.

**** SPOILER ALERT **** (5, Funny)

spuke4000 (587845) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887969)

Turns out after resistors, capacitors,inductors and memristors the 5th fundamental element is... love?

Re:**** SPOILER ALERT **** (4, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888087)

Mmmmmmmm. Milla Jovovich

Re:**** SPOILER ALERT **** (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25890073)

I was thinking Major Doctor Ghastly singing the Pie Song ("The secret ingredient ...is love") from "Evil Con Carne", the cancelled part of the "grim and evil" show that became "the grim adventures of billy and mandy". I found her strangely attractive, anyway. Then again, I find Buttercup the hottest powerpuff girl, and turns out she's probably a lesbian. Shrug.

Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Major Doctor Ghastly.

Re:**** SPOILER ALERT **** (1)

Lije Baley (88936) | more than 5 years ago | (#25890909)

Seen on the marquee of a local theater at the time -- "Is Luke Perry the Fifth Element?"

Feds Deregulating Hybrid Corn for ETHANOL?? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888015)

Saw an ad for this article on the article page.

Federal regulators are rushing to pass laws that would allow genetically modified corn to be used for ethanol production.

Screwing with commerce and people's lives again, eh?

Face it..... CORN SUCKS! It rapes the land and produces small amounts of ethanol. (And no... bio-deisel is not better it's worse)

LEGALIZE HEMP PRODUCTION AGAIN!

4 times as much ethanol per acre (and they're not growing the kind you smoke folks)

Legalize medicinal use of cannabis as well. You should be able to grow your own medicine without federal hassles....

WAKE UP AMERICA!

Re:Feds Deregulating Hybrid Corn for ETHANOL?? (4, Funny)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888155)

Dude...no more talking. Just puff puff pass...

Historic name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888303)

Stanley Williams - inventor of SkyNet, destroyer of mankind. If he disappears, we'll know time travel is possible too.

Singularity meter? (1)

Sybert42 (1309493) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888319)

So does this move us closer? A few years earlier?

More than 2 states are now possible. (4, Insightful)

Sanat (702) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888455)

Binary was chosen earlier in computer work for it could represent accurately a digit representive such as 1001 equals 9. Also magnetic core memory could hold only the two states.

With memristors (once they are perfected) can have multi-state such as trinary (base 3) or decinary (base 10) eliminating all of the conversion that is neccessary in the present binary system that require cpu cycles. 123 in the decinary system represents 123 where in binary it would be 1111011 and need to be converted in order to be meaningful.

For instance I have heard for those studying DNA that using base 12 has certain benefits in directly expressing information. Perhaps this will open a whole new arena of possibility that previously could only be simulated in binary.

The mind can imagine many new possibilities if the memristor actually is.

Re:More than 2 states are now possible. (3, Informative)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888771)

With memristors (once they are perfected) can have multi-state such as trinary (base 3) or decinary (base 10) eliminating all of the conversion that is neccessary in the present binary system that require cpu cycles. 123 in the decinary system represents 123 where in binary it would be 1111011 and need to be converted in order to be meaningful.

Um, for the most part, the computer only has to convert from binary to decimal when it displays base 10 numbers on the screen (ie using the calculator). It's hardly computer intensive. All the operations (add, subtract, multiply, divide) are going to be in it's native binary, no conversion needed.

Computers convert data all the time - this text you are reading now is really just a series of binary numbers converted to ascii or unicode or whatever with lots of other conversions needed to throw it on the screen.

Native base 10 has been done before (basically ignoring bits representing 10-15) and all that was found was that it wasted space as conversion in those scenarios are beyond trivial. Here's a book for you:
http://www.amazon.com/Code-Language-Computer-Hardware-Software/dp/0735611319 [amazon.com]

Re:More than 2 states are now possible. (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888999)

The grandparent isn't as silly as it sounds. Multi-level flash cells don't store binary data, they work, typically, in base 4. Each cell stores a value from 0-3, meaning you only need 4 cells instead of 8 for a byte. Memristor-based systems can accurately store analogue values, and so can potentially store more than one bit of data in a single element. If you could store an entire byte in a single element then you'd get much higher density, although you'd probably want to translate it back into binary when you loaded it into a register, since binary arithmetic circuits are very easy to build (try doing bitwise or in decimal...).

Re:More than 2 states are now possible. (1)

tpheiska (1145505) | more than 5 years ago | (#25890717)

Memristor-based systems can accurately store analogue values...

So would this mean that hybrid computers [wikipedia.org] could have a comeback? They were used extensively in simulations and they actually have some nice properties.

Re:More than 2 states are now possible. (1)

thetartanavenger (1052920) | more than 5 years ago | (#25890173)

Native base 10 has been done before (basically ignoring bits representing 10-15) and all that was found was that it wasted space as conversion in those scenarios are beyond trivial.

Please correct and forgive me if I'm wrong but that doesn't sound like native base 10. That sounds like storing data in BCD using a 2 state bit. What the GP is implying is that instead of using a 2-state bit, there's the ability for a 3, 4 or n-state bit to represent numbers. This wouldn't result in wasted space, instead using only the 2-state bit would be wasting the space.

I can't comment on how well it would perform though, as you are entirely correct that conversion at that level is very trivial.

BCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25890205)

Erm. Just about every generic cpu architecture still includes support for BCD (binary coded decimal), whether it's really useful or not.

In microcontroller space, BCDs are really handy.

Re:More than 2 states are now possible. (3, Interesting)

Sanat (702) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:More than 2 states are now possible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888869)

Ok now, go create a base 10 memristor adder. Go on, I'll wait.

Re:More than 2 states are now possible. (1)

redxxx (1194349) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889563)

Wouldn't an adder just involve writing to two memristors and reading their values in series? If you write to them in what the rest of your hardware considers base 10, that's how they will get interpreted once you are actually dealing with numbers again.

So long as I don't have to do anything other than add, I don't see where the problem is(other than needless conversions to binary and back).

Re:More than 2 states are now possible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888891)

e is the most efficient exponent for representing numbers, not 12 or 10 or 42 or whatever random things you're dreaming up. e is appriximately 2.7 which is closer to 3 than to 2, so theoretically using base 3 would be better than using base 2. However in practice the added complexity is not worth the gains. Also, using memristors has nothing to do with changing the base of the numbers we use. All of signaling works that way. Transistors for example don't actually turn voltage all the way off. They just toggle between high and low states. It's not a big project to make them use high medium and low states instead. It's just not worth the bother.

For memory purposes the individual devices will be used to store as many bits as can be reliably measured back out of the device. This isn't anything new though as it's already being done for current memory devices.

Re:More than 2 states are now possible. (1)

frieko (855745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888921)

The number of cycles needed to convert decimal to binary and back is completely trivial compared to how much easier binary makes all the actual computations.

I'm sure that they will use 2^n states and consider them as groups of bits.

Re:More than 2 states are now possible. (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889113)

Well, binary is also way too convenient to implement in CMOS, so don't expect anybody to abandon it soon. Maybe they'll make some non-binary memory, but then there will surely be a conversor from that memory to the binary CPU.

Re:More than 2 states are now possible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25889849)

I would certainly love to see Ternary come to life in computing.

Ternary is such a beautiful system.

Specifically, balanced ternary.

Re:More than 2 states are now possible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25889877)

Naturally base 12 is useful to looking at DNA:

4 base types, 3 bases per peptide encoding; 3x4=12.

Same reason that we CS people like hexadecimal.

Wow (4, Interesting)

kidde_valind (1060754) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888479)

Things like these makes you remember that HP isn't just a company that makes crappy consumer products.

Re:Wow (4, Insightful)

Zordak (123132) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888861)

Right. Because they are also the world's leading producer of Carly Fiorina, which pretty much cancels out anything good they do.

Neural nets? (2, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888733)

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

-jcr

Re:Neural nets? (2, Funny)

Nyall (646782) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889429)

huh?

This Memristor technology sounds like it could be an ideal device for mounting lasers onto sharks. Anyone working on that, I wonder?

-SNS

Yes (1)

wanax (46819) | more than 5 years ago | (#25890249)

HP has already done some internal research [ieee.org] within the same group on using memristor chips with neural network type logic.

They also have a major collaborative grant proposal underway for studying the use of memristor chips as the basis for neural networks, but it hasn't been finalized.

Symbol (2, Interesting)

Wizworm (782799) | more than 5 years ago | (#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?

FPGA FUD from TFA (3, Informative)

fpgaprogrammer (1086859) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888779)

From TFA: '''In order to be so flexible, however, FPGAs are large and expensive. And once the design is done, engineers generally abandon FPGAs for leaner "application-specific integrated circuits."'''

This isn't really true. The rising fixed costs of an ASIC is prohibitive for low volume embedded projects where a $1 FPGA will do just fine. High performance FPGA chips are about the same cost as a CPU and they are commonly used as reconfigurable co-processors for supercomputing applications or embedded DSP. And I get way more GigaOps per dollar with FPGAs than with a CPU and for much less power.

In Soviet-Russia resistance remembers YOU! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888873)

In Soviet-Russia resistance remembers YOU!

4th? Try 5th fundamental (1)

devinteske (1258302) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888905)

Isn't it the 5th 'fundamental element' of integrated circuits? Correct me if I'm wrong, but what about thermistors?

Thermistors are resistors that vary their resistance based on temperature. Yeah, I can hear you already, saying that if it's a type of resistor, then it's not fundamental. Well, if you're going to argue that, then why is a memristor considered fundamental when it's a type of transistor?

I'd say that the list looks more like this:

  1. Transistor
  2. Resistor
  3. Capacitor
  4. Thermistor
  5. Memristor

and, FTGP, where does "inductor" fit in there? Does it? I don't really consider inductors as part of the basic fundamental electrical components that can be used in integrated circuitry.

Re:4th? Try 5th fundamental (4, Informative)

bitrex (859228) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889407)

I believe what they mean is that the memristor is "fundamental" in that it provides a symmetrical link between electric charge and magnetic flux. A resistor is the link between current and voltage, a capacitor - voltage and charge, an inductor - current and magnetic flux, and a memristor - magnetic flux and charge. I think. I'm sure someone with a better grounding in electromagnetic physics can clarify this a bit.

Re:4th? Try 5th fundamental (1)

x102output (536049) | more than 5 years ago | (#25890237)

All resistors vary their resistance based on temperature. That's why there is "tolerance" levels. A thermistor is essentially the same thing, but made of material that is more affected by temperature change.


And transistors just aren't passive components, simple as that.

Let me remember, what's a memister again? (1)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889641)

My brain is just giving me too much resistance to remember...

Robots !!! (1)

UttBuggly (871776) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889817)

Because of the "features" of a memristor, we might see very 'smart' robots someday.

I, for one, will welcome our new memristor-powered robot overlords.

Especially if they look like Gort or Robbie.

Promises Promises (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#25891009)

Promises promises that this is going to make everything better (faster, cheaper, smaller). I'd settle for even one of those benefits if it were significant, but wonder if I'll ever see any of them.

Mother Ship (1)

future assassin (639396) | more than 5 years ago | (#25891165)

Wow I got all excited and throught it said Hybrid Mother Ship and was about to say I for one welcome our new Talon/Human overlords.
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