IDG News Service - HP scientists have made a small breakthrough in the development of a next-generation memory technology called memristors, which some see as a potential replacement for today's widely used flash and DRAM technologies.
In a paper to be published Monday in the journal "Nanotechnology," scientists report that they have mapped out the basic chemistry and structure of what happens inside a memristor during its electrical operation.
Previously, although working memristors had been built in the labs, scientists didn't know exactly what was happening inside the tiny structures. So while HP was already confident it could commercialize the technology, this discovery will allow it to greatly improve its performance, said Stan Williams, a senior fellow at HP.
"We were on a path where we would have had something that works reasonably well, but this improves our confidence and should allow us to improve the devices such that they are significantly better," he said.
Memristors were first described in 1971 by a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to that, scientists knew of only three basic circuit elements -- the resistor, the capacitor and the inductor. Professor Leon Chua posited that there was a fourth.
Decades later, scientists at HP proved that memristors existed, and further proved that they could be made to switch back and forth between two or more levels of electrical resistance, which would allow them to represent the ones and zeros in digital computing.
Scientists knew that switching process was taking place but found it hard to study because memristors are so tiny. HP's latest breakthrough was to use highly focused X-rays to pinpoint a channel, just 100 nanometers wide, where the resistance switching takes place. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter.
They then mapped out the chemistry and structure of that channel, and thus gained a better idea of how memristors operate. The paper was jointly published by HP and UC Santa Barbara.
The type of memory that can be built with memristors, called ReRAM, is nonvolatile, which means devices can retain their data after the power supply is turned off. That's in contrast to DRAM, where the stored data is lost when the power is cut.
Williams estimated that HP's memristor technology could be commercially available by the middle of 2013, though "that's not an official promise from HP as a company," he said.
HP has built sample devices in its labs that should enable storage densities of 12G bytes per square centimeter, Williams said That's using a 15-nanometer production process and a multi-level design, where four layers of memory cell are stacked on top of one another.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Using VM Archiving to Solve VM Sprawl This CommVault whitepaper discusses how archiving virtual machines can mitigate VM sprawl with a comprehensive approach to VM lifecycle management.
- Keep Your Network Available, Efficient and Secure Make the most of your network by working with experts who "get it." CDW and F5 have partnered to keep networks highly optimized....
- VCE Converged Infrastructure Enables Continuous Operation for Swiss Power Plant Read how Vblock™ Systems, running in active-active mode, enabled KKL to transform its twin data centers in just two months, enable continuous operations,...
- The Future of IT: A Customer First Approach Explore how customer-first policies can make use of social, mobile and cloud technologies to give workers the freedom and flexibility they desire to...
- Make or Break: New Auto Products Must Go To Market On Time This Webcast quantifies the value of time to market for the auto industry and highlights how Primavera Enterprise Portfolio Management can help organizations.
- IBM Flash Webcast: Optimizing your Datacenter for Efficient Storage & ROI Register for this webcast to learn the benefits of flash storage from IBM Customer, Leonardo Irastorza of Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd and Storage... All Data Storage White Papers | Webcasts