HP, Hynix to jointly bring next-gen memory to market

Memristor could replace both flash and CPUs

Hewlett-Packard today announced that it has entered into a joint development agreement with Hynix Semiconductor to develop and bring memristor, a new circuit element first demonstrated in HP Labs, to market in future memory products.

The two companies said that over the next three years they will jointly develop the materials and process integration technology to bring memristor technology to commercial development as resistive random-access memory (ReRAM). Hynix will be responsible for fabricating the memristor technology.

Memristor, which is short for memory resistor, is basically that: a resistor with memory. Earlier this year, HP announced that memristors could also perform logic. With that ability, a memristor can work as both a processor and as storage and could one day take the place of both mass storage devices and central processing units.

A circuit with 17 memristors captured by an atomic force microscope
A circuit with 17 memristors captured by an atomic force microscope

"The memristor has storage capacity abilities many times greater than what competing technologies offer. By adopting HP's memristor technology, we can deliver new, energy-efficient products to our customers more quickly," said S.W. Park, Hynix's chief technology officer.

A form of nonvolatile memory, ReRAM has the potential to replace the NAND flash memory used in mobile phones and MP3 players. It could also be used as a mass storage medium in the form of DRAM or solid-state drive (SSD) technology.

According to HP, memristors require less energy to operate and are faster than SSD storage technologies.

The memristor was postulated to be the fourth basic circuit element by professor Leon Chua at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1971. It was later studied by researchers at HP Labs, the company's central research arm, in 2006.

"This agreement brings together HP's core intellectual property and a first-rate supplier with the capacity to bring this innovation to market in world-class memory on a mass scale," Stan Williams, founding director of the Information and Quantum Systems Laboratory at HP Labs, said in a statement.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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