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HP To Introduce Flash Memory Replacement In 2013

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the move-it-on-over dept.

HP 253

Spy Hunter writes "Memristors are the basis of a new memory technology being developed by HP and Hynix. At the International Electronics Forum, Stan Williams, senior fellow at HP Labs, said, 'We're planning to put a replacement chip on the market to go up against flash within a year and a half. We're running hundreds of wafers through the fab, and we're way ahead of where we thought we would be at this moment in time.' They're not stopping at a flash replacement either, with Williams saying, 'In 2014 possibly, or certainly by 2015, we will have a competitor for DRAM and then we'll replace SRAM.' With a non-volatile replacement for DRAM and SRAM, will we soon see the end of the reboot entirely?"

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Ofcourse not (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637378)

Ofcourse we will not see the end of the reboot entirely. I have yet to encounter a Windows or Linux system that you can upgrade without rebooting. (In practice that is, in theory it should all work.)
Memristors will make a dent in the small scale UPS market since there will be no need to shut down gracefully but we will still need large scale backup system where you want to continue running your operation during power outage.
The real change we will see is when memristors replace flash and dram since there will no longer make sense to keep the bulk storage in a different memory from the rest of the system. Everything will be memory mapped always like it was in the good old ROM-based days.
The problem is that both Windows and Linux is badly prepared for this since both of them uses executable program structures that require modification upon loading. A lot of programs are also using datafiles in an abstract format that require extensive parsing before usage. (Like XML or other text based configuration files.)
This makes it hard to transition into XIP-system where loading is something that doesn't happen. (Did anyone with a battery backed SRAM PCMCIA-card try eXecute In Place on the Amiga? I would like to know if it actually worked or if it was just a term mentioned in the manuals. It should have worked since it's not really any different from compiling programs for memory-resident operation.)

Re:Ofcourse not (2)

Hexadecimal Kid (989397) | about 3 years ago | (#37637522)

Why will linux have a problem with this? The structures that require modification are copies of the data on disc, why should that change? Copy these from the non-running programme to private pages, modify the process page table, job done. I doubt windows is any different. Basically the same mechanism in use now, but source the original, non-executing text, from a different place, memory rather than filesystem. I don't think it's mentioned anywhere that programmes will never need loading or initialising again, of course they will, but once done, the state of that "running" instance persists across power off/on.

Re:Ofcourse not (2)

berwiki (989827) | about 3 years ago | (#37637540)

that's why he said 'in practice'.

Ksplice (2)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37637816)

The structures that require modification are copies of the data on disc, why should that change? Copy these from the non-running programme to private pages, modify the process page table, job done.

Unless the version of the kernel with security patches is larger than the old version and won't fit in the same pages, or the security patch changes the meaning of a data structure in RAM. Then you need an Oracle product [wikipedia.org] to make the transition.

Re:Ofcourse not (2)

TheLink (130905) | about 3 years ago | (#37637808)

lot of programs are also using datafiles in an abstract format that require extensive parsing before usage. (Like XML or other text based configuration files.)

This makes it hard to transition into XIP-system where loading is something that doesn't happen

Configuration files aren't going away, and I don't see why you think they are a problem. There are good reasons why they exist and a new form of memory does not remove those reasons.

One man's impedance mismatch is another man's layer of abstraction.

Re:Ofcourse not (1)

macshit (157376) | about 3 years ago | (#37637962)

I have yet to encounter a Windows or Linux system that you can upgrade without rebooting. (In practice that is, in theory it should all work.)

The only part of an upgrade that requires rebooting on a modern well-designed linux distro (e.g. Debian, where upgrading-without-rebooting is normal practice) is to start the new kernel, if there happens to be one. Of course you can install a new kernel without rebooting, and just keep on using the old one until the next time you happen to reboot—that works fine.

[Yeah I know there are techniques that try to avoid even the start-the-new-kernel reboot, but so far as I've seen, they're kinda dodgy....]

End of the reboot? (4, Insightful)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 3 years ago | (#37637382)

Reboots usually don't happen because of hardware, and certainly not because of the type of RAM you're running. It's bad software.

Re:End of the reboot? (2, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | about 3 years ago | (#37637398)

I assume, then, that you never shut your computer down for the night. Or for the weekend.

Re:End of the reboot? (3, Interesting)

fph il quozientatore (971015) | about 3 years ago | (#37637430)

I assume, then, that you never shut your computer down for the night. Or for the weekend.

I turn my computer on for the night and the weekend*.

* you insensitive clod!

Re:End of the reboot? (4, Funny)

wjousts (1529427) | about 3 years ago | (#37637600)

My computer turns me on for nights and weekends!

Re:End of the reboot? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637634)

Nobody asked for your opinion, Soviet Russia!

Re:End of the reboot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637470)

Shutting down your PC is so 1990s. My computer automatically goes to sleep when it has been idle for an hour.

Re:End of the reboot? (2)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37637822)

My laptop still drains its battery while suspended. It drains much slower, but it still drains.

Re:End of the reboot? (3, Interesting)

trold (242154) | about 3 years ago | (#37637548)

You've missed an important point here. Non-volatile RAM means than powering off does not imply a reboot. When power returns the next morning, or after the weekend, the computer is still in the same state as when you pulled the plug Friday evening. /trold

Re:End of the reboot? (2)

queazocotal (915608) | about 3 years ago | (#37637572)

This assumes that the CPU is also completely non-volatile, and all the other hardware elements.
It's likely not to be the case, at least in the short term, hardware will absolutely require some shutdown time, to get to a stable standby state.

You do not go from a billion operations a second to zero cleanly, just by yanking the power.

Re:End of the reboot? (1)

trold (242154) | about 3 years ago | (#37637638)

True, but flushing CPU cache is many orders of magnitude faster than writing to disk. Except they probably want to use this technology to merge disk and RAM.

Re:End of the reboot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637672)

You do not go from a billion operations a second to zero cleanly, just by yanking the power.

You do if state is preserved. Map the memory, set the flags and program counter and you're right back where you left off.

Re:End of the reboot? (2)

AlecC (512609) | about 3 years ago | (#37637712)

True, but a CPU ought to be able to store all that it needs to of its state in a small fraction of a second. Most PSUs will hold power for this long, so that if they can give an "power failed" interrupt half a second before dropping the main voltage, it should be OK. You will have to flush dirty cache lines to main memory, but not dirty disk sectors to disk. Similarly, the disk should be able to complete transfers actually in progress in that same fraction of a second.

The problem will be, as you say, other hardware elements. However, many such elements are now being USB connected, and USB is explicitly supposed to be tolerant to hot plug/unplug - which is what a power fail should resemble. The main non-USB connected device is the monitor (and secondary monitors can be USB connected). Fix that, and you will have a chance of PCs which stop in mid stride on power failure and pick up when it returns.

Re:End of the reboot? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637904)

Correct on some counts, but missing others.
Ultimately, there will be no disk, or even SSD. The whole machine will be memristor based. Imagine 1TB of flat memristor space.
Since task context would be stored in memristor (replacing DRAM as well) then a power off to power on transition only need to load the last context.
Truly instant on.

Re:End of the reboot? (1)

AlecC (512609) | about 3 years ago | (#37637990)

This assumes that disks will not manage to keep ahead in price/performance of these memristors. People have predicted the death of hard disks many times over teh past two decades to my knowledge, and always been proved wrong. Memristors may well wipe out current flash, but they are chasing a moving target with disks.

Of course, low end systems will no longer need the vast space offered by disks. We are already seeing that with tablets. The average hope PC may go diskless. But the ever increasing assumption that "storage is cheap" will mean that people will always want large storage systems for some uses.

Re:End of the reboot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637738)

TFA clearly speaks to putting Memristors right on the CPU die, so eventually even it could go completely cold (perhaps unexpectedly!) and come right back up in the same state without any glitches.

Re:End of the reboot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637752)

Unless of course you make every memory cell, every register, everything to do with memory, memristors.
Add a battery in that lasts about a few seconds to cleanly hold requests before / after buses, problem solved with in-transit data.
Why batteries haven't been in desktops at all is completely beyond me. They won't cost that much more to add in a tiny cell to terminate things that could lead to things breaking, such as hard drives.

Power-down hibernate would be a fantastic feature to have. If handhelds can do it, PCs should be able to.

As a person who gets annoyed when computer goes off, or when stuff requires restarts to update (actually needs it and not just doing those usual tricks to get around it, like refreshing registry or explorer process), I'd happily welcome this.

Re:End of the reboot? (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 3 years ago | (#37637574)

I think most people Hibernate their computers these days. I definitely do. Ever since the Linux kernel could be updated without a reboot I haven't had to reboot my machines at all.

Re:End of the reboot? (0)

Joce640k (829181) | about 3 years ago | (#37637628)

I think most people Hibernate their computers these days. I definitely do.

Haven't got much RAM then...?

Re:End of the reboot? (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 years ago | (#37637958)

Ive got 8GB RAM, hibernate works just fine, thanks.

More often I use hybrid sleep (not sure if its a windows, or a bios feature), which sleeps for a length of time (say an hour), and if I havent resumed, it wakes up just enough to flush ram to disk.

Means I never have to worry about sleep battery, or waiting for my laptop to finish hibernating.

Re:End of the reboot? (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about 3 years ago | (#37638124)

S3 Sleep.

Re:End of the reboot? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637630)

That's not a "reboot", dickfuck.

Re:End of the reboot? (1)

mapkinase (958129) | about 3 years ago | (#37637644)

I never do. Why? Economy of resources?

The light in my kitchen in the morning is exactly the same light as it was in the evening.

Re:End of the reboot? (2)

Idbar (1034346) | about 3 years ago | (#37637684)

I hibernate it. If the headline was meant as the end of hibernation and a new era of powerless sleep, then it's fine. But I really see no correlation with reboots unless the memory was also leak proof.

Re:End of the reboot? (2)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | about 3 years ago | (#37637696)

I assume, then, that you never shut your computer down for the night. Or for the weekend.

The common PC at home is never powered off unless my gf feels "sorry for the machine and wants to give it some rest" (once every few months)

The PC in my appartment is never powered off.

Re:End of the reboot? (1)

satch89450 (186046) | about 3 years ago | (#37637844)

My girlfriend leaves her computers on most of the time. The only time she shuts them down is when there is a thunderstorm: in her neighborhood, the power lines are above-ground including pole mounted transformers, so are prone to lightning hits that can cause significant spikes. In my case, everything is completely underground, with pad-mounted transformers on the ground, so I don't need to worry so much about lightning.

I've told her the "fix" is to put a 100-foot extension cord on her computer. Acts like a distributed filter, it does. Takes the 6000-volt spikes ("sparking of the clearances") down to a 800-volt ring wave that most power supplies can take, especially those protected with a power strip containing MOVs.

Re:End of the reboot? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37638178)

Why kludge when you can easily have the actual fix?

I have a small UPS under my desk. It can only power my station for about 7 minutes, but it can take one hell of a power spike

Re:End of the reboot? (0)

RicktheBrick (588466) | about 3 years ago | (#37637922)

Why should one's computer be different than one's refrigerator? I would think that with the Internet one would want a computer that one leaves on all the time since this should lead to a computer with no moving parts. I for one can think of plenty of programs that will increase our security and well being too. I do not know why we do not have microphones and speakers in every room of one's house. Humans can tell if there is a problem in a room by the sound that is coming out of it so I do not see why a computer could not do the same. I would think that someone will invent a wristwatch that also monitors one's heart beat and blood pressure. I would think that this device would communicate with one's computer and thus communicate with anyone in the world. I would hope that if one had a problem than the proper people would be notified even when one is incapable of doing it oneself.

Re:End of the reboot? (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 3 years ago | (#37637934)

I reboot at most once a week, more likely once a month. The rest of the time is deep sleep, or whatever windows calls writing its state to state and powering down.

Re:End of the reboot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37638020)

Umm, yeah, pretty much so. Impossible S3 magic. Insanity, I know.

Re:End of the reboot? (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 3 years ago | (#37637426)

Indeed. Why is this BS always attached to memristor articles?

Reboots are for updating kernels and when you want to save power on an unused machine. Or when you run OSes that cannot run a few years without reboot...

Re:End of the reboot? (2)

flanders_down (2424442) | about 3 years ago | (#37637448)

Reboots usually don't happen because of hardware, and certainly not because of the type of RAM you're running. It's Windows.

Fixed that for you....

Re:End of the reboot? (1)

Kartu (1490911) | about 3 years ago | (#37637758)

Don't want to dissapoing anyone, but I haven't rebooted Win7 on my Lenovo notebook for about 2 years. When I power it off it hibernates.

Re:End of the reboot? (1)

sglewis100 (916818) | about 3 years ago | (#37637826)

Don't want to dissapoing anyone, but I haven't rebooted Win7 on my Lenovo notebook for about 2 years. When I power it off it hibernates.

Hey, I don't want to alarm you or anything... but your system might be vulnerable to a things... I try to reboot mine regularly after patching security holes.

Re:End of the reboot? (1)

mswhippingboy (754599) | about 3 years ago | (#37637832)

Don't want to dissapoing anyone, but I haven't rebooted Win7 on my Lenovo notebook for about 2 years. When I power it off it hibernates.

Guess that makes you about two years behind in Win7 security patches then.

Re:End of the reboot? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 3 years ago | (#37637646)

As I posted below, the stub writer means that this is the the end of cold boots, as system state is persistent in memory even with no power.

Reboots for maintenance will require much more than non-volatile RAM.

Will this get HP out of the brown stuff (1)

maroberts (15852) | about 3 years ago | (#37637410)

Maybe this will mark the start of an upturn which will stop them changing CEOs quite so rapidly....

Can we believe HP? (1)

shic (309152) | about 3 years ago | (#37637412)

My bullshit detector is going off - and it's not because I don't believe this sort of technology is just around the corner - because it is. I just don't have confidence that it will be brought to us by HP... given recent evidence HP seems quite capable of snatching any defeat from the jaws of victory.

Re:Can we believe HP? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637518)

One could speculate that the reason why they got out of the (volatile) consumer market is that they are betting their money on memristors. Why make and market a few devices when you have a monopoly on parts that will go into everyone else's?

Re:Can we believe HP? (3, Insightful)

plover (150551) | about 3 years ago | (#37637940)

Given the HP board of directors' track record in making good decisions, one could speculate that they would invest in TTL chip technology for the same reason.

Yes, hundreds of wafers ahead of schedule is good, but they haven't even sold one chip yet. It's hardly time to go all in and throw the car keys on the table, too.

Re:Can we believe HP? (1)

jpstanle (1604059) | about 3 years ago | (#37637948)

One could speculate that the reason why they got out of the (volatile) consumer market is that they are betting their money on memristors. Why make and market a few devices when you have a monopoly on parts that will go into everyone else's?

But if this were the case, why would they fail to make a visible statement about their memristor business either before or at the same time that they announce their abandonment of the consumer electronics market? It's one thing to say "Hey, we're radically changing our business model, but it's because we've got this great new product that is basically a license to print money," and completely another thing to say, "Oh hey, we're giving up on everything we've been doing for the past decade because it's low margin" with no explanation why.

Reboot???? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637414)

What has memory to do with reboot.

Powerless hybernation is much more interesting.

Re:Reboot???? (1)

ArcherB (796902) | about 3 years ago | (#37637538)

What has memory to do with reboot.

Powerless hybernation is much more interesting.

Hibernation is SSSSSSLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW.

Let's say you have 8 GB RAM on your system. When you put your system to hibernate, it writes that 8 GB to disk and shuts down. When you "wake" the system back up, it looks for hibernation data. If it finds it, it loads it back into RAM from your disk. How long does it take your system to read 8GB of data from your HDD?

With non-volatile memory, you are able to remove power from your machine through power failure or "hibernation", but the data stays where it was, in RAM. When you return power to the machine, there is no need to reload the 8GB from the disk because it's already there. It can literally be instant power off and on since no data has to be written or read.

Re:Reboot???? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 3 years ago | (#37637854)

With non-volatile memory, you are able to remove power from your machine through power failure or "hibernation", but the data stays where it was, in RAM.

Well, that's what suspend does already. Of course non-volatile memory would improve that too, as there would be no more need for the small current to keep the RAM alive.

Seriously? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637418)

A company that is going under financially announces that it has a world-changing development that will be out in a few years.........

How much of this is exaggeration in an effort to retain stockholders?

End of the reboot? Hahaha! (1)

Jay Maynard (54798) | about 3 years ago | (#37637420)

Windows users will still need them every time they change things, or to clean up tiny software flaws...

Re:End of the reboot? Hahaha! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637566)

If you think Linux doesn't need this too then clearly you don't use it. You just exposed yourself as a hypocrite and an idiot.

Re:End of the reboot? Hahaha! (1)

Nimatek (1836530) | about 3 years ago | (#37637664)

The PC I'm posting this from runs Linux (a rolling release distro even) and has been running for 35 days with many updates applied in that time. Had to restart X when the desktop environment was updated. I will have to reboot for the kernel update though.

Re:End of the reboot? Hahaha! (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | about 3 years ago | (#37637784)

My windows machine has been up for 2 months.

My Mac hasn't rebooted for god knows how long.

Re:End of the reboot? Hahaha! (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 3 years ago | (#37638152)

Ditto on my home Windows 7 machine, it gets rebooted exactly as often as there are critical security updates which isn't as often as people seem to think, usually not more than once a month. My XP machine at work has been up for... wow... 69 days, 9 hours apparently thanks to my IT department not pushing out updates like they should.

Re:End of the reboot? Hahaha! (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 3 years ago | (#37637966)

I actually think that an Ubuntu desktop would tick just fine (and be pretty secure) if only the point releases (version xx.yy.z) were installed and nothing upgraded in between.

That's some nice pie (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | about 3 years ago | (#37637424)

they're selling us. It sounds good but I'll believe it when I see it (vaporware?).

Useless speculation is useless (1)

jnelson4765 (845296) | about 3 years ago | (#37637434)

Reboots are not necessary on many machines right now - I have to remind my boss to reboot every few weeks when something finally goes wonky in the network settings on his Mac laptop. Standby mode lasts for a very long time now... and most required reboots are from operating system updates. With modern SSDs, you don't even need to wait that long to boot. My work machine with a modern SSD takes about 7 seconds to boot Windows 7. My home machine, with less services to start, boots in about 4.

But honestly, they may be saying that, but it's not like DRAM speeds will be sitting still. And a store/load cycle that can compete with flash is an order of magnitude slower than one that can compete with modern DRAM chips. But don't let that get in the way of crystal ball gazing.

Re:Useless speculation is useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637648)

What they mean is that the read only (ie: code) portions of the OS can remain in memory and not have to be re-loaded from on line storage every time the computer is restarted. Some OS's may have to be re-written to take advantage of this feature.

Re:Useless speculation is useless (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37637872)

Every time my desktop computer is restarted, it's because it just loaded an updated version of "the read only (ie: code) portions of the OS" from the network.

I knew flash was just a fad. (1)

Joshua Fan (1733100) | about 3 years ago | (#37637440)

I was just waiting to be proven right.

Windows == reboot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637450)

I bet Windows will still require irregular reboots and Linux still won't, nevermind which memory technology is used.

end of the HDD (3, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 3 years ago | (#37637472)

it won't mean the end of the reboot, stupid editor. This is sSlashdot, don't you know you have a Microsoft-Windows-BSOD-Daily-reboot meme to maintain?? :)

What I think it could mean the end of is the HDD, or rather the distinction between memory and storage. If all your apps and long-term-storage data could be placed into RAM, then you'd do it wouldn't you. (this assume a few things, like reliability and long-term unpowered persistence) but imagine having 500Gb of RAM that just happened to hold all your data, rather than keeping it separate and shuffling it between the two. That could be quite a change for the way we see computers compared to the ways we've been using them for the last 40 odd years.

Re:end of the HDD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37638066)

Not if the cost is many times HDD cost, nor any more reliable like current mainstream SSD's. Speed is great. Reliability is better.

Re:end of the HDD (1)

Pharago (1197161) | about 3 years ago | (#37638104)

the end of ram maybe, not the other way around

Re:end of the HDD (4, Informative)

pz (113803) | about 3 years ago | (#37638138)

What is old is new again.

There was a project at MIT LCS/AI back in the mid-80s to explore what it would mean to have massive amounts of RAM. A machine was designed with 1 GB of main memory. By today's standards, that's pathetic, but recall that this is in the era where PCs had 640 KB, max, and 1 GB was not only larger than every hard disk (desktop ones were at 10 MB, and even the big enterprise drives were only on order of 10 times bigger), but --- and this was the really important part -- would fill out the virtual address space, so there would be no need for a VM system. Hal Abelson and Gerry Sussman were behind these big ideas (the same duo who wrote Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs). I don't recall if the machine was actually built (maybe it was the Digital Orrery?), but I do recall one of the contrary viewpoints being that VM was considered important not just for simulating a larger memory system, but that for type-driven hardware like Lisp Machines, a huge address space was useful because the upper addressing bits could be used to encode type, even if that address space was too large to ever be populated.

Got to buy lots of stock! (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 3 years ago | (#37637508)

Man. I was going to put all of my savings into one of the new cold fusion companies that are going to be popping up at the end of the month. Now I'm going to have to split it with all the HP stock I need to buy.

ADBE (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37637892)

Man. I was going to put all of my savings into one of the new cold fusion companies

Cold fusion [wikipedia.org] ? You could have bought ADBE years ago.

Why are HP wasting money on this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637510)

HP shouldn't be inventing things - the real money is in providing services (at least that's what they told me on my MBA course)!

is HP astroturfing /. ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637976)

HP seems to be getting a lot of mention on /. lately. It's starting to rank right up there with *pple. And not all of it is the latest rehash of their boneheaded mismanagement circus. Do we have a HP mole on /. now?

Memristor implication for OS, Software, Energy... (3, Interesting)

An dochasac (591582) | about 3 years ago | (#37637520)

We can finally dump the multiple layers of caching, look-ahead and other OS complexity designed to hide several orders of magnitude difference between register/DRAM access and persistent storage (tape/Hard drive/core memory...). Operating systems can return to the level of simplicity they had back when everything was uniformity slow. But now everything will be uniformly fast and we'll can focus complexity on multiprocessing.

It will become practical to implement neural networks in hardware. This will completely change the way we design and program software and databases.

Persistent and portable user sessions will become the norm. (Look at Sun Ray for an idea of how this works. Sun Ray sessions are typically logged in for months at a time. This means software has to be better behaved but it also means we won't have to rely on user memory to restore a desktop and applications to... now where was I?

Re:Memristor implication for OS, Software, Energy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637802)

But Flash isn't as fast as RAM.

Reboot (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 3 years ago | (#37637528)

I haven't encountered any OS besides z/OS that didn't require a reboot atleast every few weeks in order for the software side to remain stable.
This includes Windows, Linux, OS-X, Android and iOS. Most likely due to not-quite-perfect applications rather than the OS itself, but they still required an OS reboot.

Re:Reboot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637676)

That's pretty pathetic... FreeBSD, Linux, and Windows 7 all stay up for months at a time regularly on my desktops and servers (and I have over a dozen running.. mostly FBSD).

Remind me to never let you touch my servers.

Re:Reboot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637702)

I'm guessing from the context of the other OS's listed, that you're using Linux in a desktop environment.

I've had Linux, Solaris, and OpenVMS systems all run for many, many months before needing a reboot.

Re:Reboot (1)

LeadSongDog (1120683) | about 3 years ago | (#37637718)

I haven't encountered any OS besides z/OS that didn't require a reboot atleast every few weeks in order for the software side to remain stable.

What, you never had a digital wristwatch, thermostat, or tv remote control? Who are you, and who gave you a /. account?

Small enough not to have an OS (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37637918)

I haven't encountered any OS besides z/OS that didn't require a reboot

What, you never had a digital wristwatch, thermostat, or tv remote control?

The microcontrollers in such devices don't have an "operating system" distinct from the only application that runs on them.

Re:Small enough not to have an OS (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 years ago | (#37638226)

Did the early examples of any of those things even have microcontrollers?

Re:Reboot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637886)

Everyone that's going to tell you that you're wrong uses a computer a lot differently than you do. I know, because I have this problem as well. For example, if I don't reboot my work PC (running FreeBSD) every monday when I come in, it starts running incredibly slow by the end of the day. I run KDE4 and I log out at night before I leave. I've tracked it down to firefox or some other process (I do use eclipse) pushing the box into swap. FreeBSD swap is notoriously slow.

My record for desktop use is a little over a month on Mac OS 10.6 and MidnightBSD. That's unusual though. I can't comment on windows 7 because i would never leave my computer booted into windows that long.

In general, development tools, games, virtualization software, or anything that pushes the OS or hardware seems to cause problems over time. These people probably do light surfing, leave firefox open for 2 months and have extensions to block flash and javascript loaded and then wonder why the rest of the planet says their browser and OS need a restart.

Re:Reboot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37638154)

I use FreeBSD + KDE4 as my primary desktop... used for email, web browsing, and web app development.. it runs apache, pgsql, ftp, ssh, and a few other services in the background. It regularly has uptimes of nearly a year.

I also run a Xen hypervisor on a development box and on 2 servers.... again uptimes months long. I have a 15gb database server - up (right now) for 83 days (last reboot for updates). I'm using Windows 7 right now -- up for 2.5 months. I use it for photoshop, illustrator, quickbooks, watching movies (w/ WMP), itunes, outlook, and MS word and excel.

And freebsd swap slow? I've never heard that before in 15 years of using fbsd.. did you expect it to be as fast as RAM?

Seriously.. if you can't keep up a computer for more than a month, you're incompetent.. don't pretend it's everyone else.

Re:Reboot (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 3 years ago | (#37638214)

You know you can quit and restart memory hogs like Firefox, right?

Re:Reboot (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 3 years ago | (#37638198)

The common thread in all these instances is you. What are you doing wrong?

This is a great invention (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 3 years ago | (#37637532)

Oracle must already by working hard to find out how to make it incompatible with their databases.

But can it run Linux? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37637926)

Good luck with that. If something has Linux, a file system, and a network connection, it can run Oracle Berkeley DB and Oracle MySQL.

Re:But can it run Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37638096)

both which are inferior databases to many other products

Stub writer is stupid (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 3 years ago | (#37637554)

s/reboot/cold-boot;

This will store your system state in memory, meaning you don't need to hibernate.

Mmmm.... Malware-tastic. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637604)

NV DRAM. Well, that won't be exploited, then...

Its the end of Standby/Hibernate and leech current (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637656)

This will allow us to truly turn off a device and save a considerable amount of energy. It'll be a revolution similar to the transistors effect on the vacuum tube, but much faster.

I like the reboot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637658)

I don't want all my actions be stored at home... ;)

OS modifications (1)

should_be_linear (779431) | about 3 years ago | (#37637754)

This, if it ever sees light of a day, will probably need major rethinking of OS architecture. Some things like volatile RAM vs. permanent "files" on "disks" is logic hardcoded into every major OS and framework (java, .NET, C++, ...), not only as a code but as a major architectural constant. With this, everything changes IMHO, not only boot. For example, "files" are completely obsolete, unless we want to emulate with what we know and what we are used to.

Lose the file concept? You stupid git (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37637968)

Some things like volatile RAM vs. permanent "files" on "disks" is logic hardcoded into every major OS and framework

For one thing, it's not necessarily as hardcoded as you might think in operating systems that have any concept of of "everything is a file". One can mmap a file as a block of memory, or one can mmap /dev/zero to allocate a block of memory. For another, perhaps you want "files" on "repositories" to be backed up, revision controlled, etc.

Re:OS modifications (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 3 years ago | (#37638006)

Suppose you had infinite non-volatile RAM, so you could open as many documents as you want and never have to close or save them.

You would still want your documents in some sort of organized, searchable, (hierarchical?) format for organizational purposes. By analogy, imagine a desk with infinite surface area. You would still put documents into a filing cabinet because they are easier to find. You would also need this standard storage medium so that other people and other software could get to the document, or so that 2 things could access the file simultaneously.

You would also need to serialize the data in a standard format for upgrades. Ex: V1 of the software might keep the file in a different in-memory structure than V2. So to upgrade, you would need to write the documents to a standard format and location so that it could reload them.

You still would have physical storage limitations - suppose they could give you 1TB of memory for $100. That's fine, until you find you have 10TB of video. You still need the ability to copy the data out of memory.

You also need backups, and a backup using the in-memory format might not work so well.

Tech Advancement (1)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | about 3 years ago | (#37637810)

"HP’s technology allows the memory layers to be put directly on top of the processor layer making for very fast systems on chip" Interestingly this is exactly what John Carmack stated he was hoping would happen in his last interview. It would make development of new game engine technology that takes full advantage of PC systems much easier.

Still need a reboot until... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37637838)

Sometimes a reboot is the only way to know for sure that everything is back as it should be. We have been conditioned by heavy-weight systems to think of rebooting as a bad thing. If reboots are cheap enough and the scope of reboots could be contained to be small enough, we could think of reboots as "garbage collection for processes," especially for misbehaving processes.

I don't think that monolithic systems such as we have today will ever be able to do this. We need to finally acknowledge that software is among (if not *is*) the most complex things that humans have ever created and hence will often exceed our ability to foresee/deal with all issues a priori. It seems to me that a more robust approach is to divide the system up into highly-independent restartable modules that share nothing and request services of each other through well defined interfaces such that if an error is found in one module it can largely be restarted without needing to restart too many of the modules that depend on it.

Am I mad? I don't think so. There are operating systems in which the OS and the applications are small, tightly focused, and have components which can be restarted independently: take minix http://www.minix3.org/ or qnx http://www.qnx.com/ as examples. Also Joe Armstrong's work http://www.erlang.org/download/armstrong_thesis_2003.pdf on Erlang http://www.erlang.org/ shows an approach to reliability based on acknowledging that "bad stuff happens in spite of our best efforts" and does a good job of rebooting small components of the overall system to bring the system back up to full health. See http://steve.vinoski.net/blog/2008/05/01/erlang-its-about-reliability/ http://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2010/9/98014-erlang/fulltext http://www.erlang-factory.com/upload/presentations/45/keynote_joearmstrong.pdf Some of the key points of Armstrong's methodology are to have independent, concurrent actors that interact through functional message-passing interfaces and can be restarted extremely quickly. A synchronous message passing style (in which the requester doesn't release the parameters associated with a request until after a successful result is returned), along with the actors being functional (meaning there is no hidden state), ensures component can be restarted independently.

(Now, lest you think me an Erlang fanboi, I confess that I find the syntax "baroque." The Go language http://golang.org/ on the other hand appears to have all that is needed to create a runtime system that implements all that Erlang provides but in a syntax and with semantics that many of us are much more willing to accept.)

-Anon

Won't be in your next Windows or Linux system... (1)

sglewis100 (916818) | about 3 years ago | (#37637848)

Don't get too excited guys... Apple already locked up anything HP produces with a long term contract. They're even going to build the factory for them! On the bright side, if this technology ever gets cheap enough, Apple will switch to it exclusively, meaning flash prices will come down finally for other vendors. Remember, Apple doesn't like flash.

Re:Won't be in your next Windows or Linux system.. (1)

strack (1051390) | about 3 years ago | (#37638168)

errr.. i think your either trolling, or your confusing adobe flash software with physical flash memory.

Target market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37638036)

I see this being aimed at data centers and servers more than the average desktop, RAM that never fails and cheap SSDs could boost HP's server sales tremendously.

Non-volatile RAM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37638040)

Sounds like a nightmare for software design. A reboot is used today to clear up bad glitches in software. How will we be able to do that if rebooting does not reset software that has glitched. Sounds like a catch 22 to a good idea.

Terrible idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37638094)

Imagine all the sensitive documents you work on, entering RAM during your time working with them.

If the system's working memory isn't volatile then you are at risk even when you use full disk encryption and power down. Your dm-crypt will be rendered useless when your tax returns and bank statements are dumped from memory after burglars make off with your gear.

Volatile memory is a wonderful thing.

Good (1)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | about 3 years ago | (#37638132)

It's a good thing too, because it's likely Samsung has been colluding with other NAND Flash manufacturers to keep prices high. They bought up a lot of competitors and the top 3 manufacturers control the vast majority of the market now. The DOJ actually investigated Samsung for collusion in 2007 (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/09/18/nand_flash_antitrust_probe_widens/) but abruptly dropped the case in 2009 (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aWgWSqhs_Jk0). Perhaps coincidentally when Obama became president. The main problem with NAND Flash is it's so massively capital intensive that you need $25 billion to construct a new fabrication plant. It's easy for companies like Samsung (which was fined a record $3 billion by the DOJ for colluding with LCD manufacturers to price fix LCD panels) to cheat the market system.
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