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The memristor looks unassuming; here's a single titanium dioxide memristor up close.  (Source: J. J. Yang, HP Labs)

HP has created the world's first memristor circuit. Researchers cut out transistors from the bottom layer of this silicon-based chip (shown in yellow and blue) and replaced them with fewer memristors in the top layer (shown in red). The device showcases the power of the memristors.  (Source: Qiangfei Xia, HP )
HP's new integral circuit component allows engineers to produce identical logic circuits using fewer transistors and less space

The goal of chipmakers has always been to push Moore's Law, squeezing more and more transistors into a smaller space.  But what if you could do more with fewer transistors?  That's the intriguing potential of HP's memristor, which joins the standard resistor, the capacitor, and the inductors as a fabled fourth integral circuit component.

First envisioned in 1971 by Berkeley professor Leon Chua, a memristor is a device which can vary its resistance based on the magnitude and direction of the voltage of an applied signal.  Furthermore, it retains its resistance state even if it is powered off.

Rediscovering Professor Chua's groundbreaking, but largely overlooked work, engineers and researchers at HP Labs dug into the problem of creating a memristor on the nanoscale.  In May they finally succeeded, creating the world's first memristor.

This week at the newly created Memristor and Memristor Systems Symposium, in Berkeley, CA the true potential of the unleashed memristor has finally begun to be seen.  One thing is clear -- the little device has the potential to rock the entire hardware industry.

When paired with transistors, memristors can be used to create new and unique circuits that function exactly like circuits with many more transistors.  The new circuits are much smaller and consume far less power.  In short, memristors allow you to do more with less.

Lead researcher Stan Williams, a senior research fellow at HP, states, "We're trying to give Moore's Law a boost."

Indeed, HP's new invention could allow licensed chipmakers to not only continue Moore's law, but to almost instantly leap ahead, shifting Moore's law years ahead.  Williams describes this new mentality, stating, "We're not trying to crowd more transistors onto a chip or into a particular circuit.  Hybrid memristor-transistor chips really have the promise for delivering a lot more performance."

In the past chipmakers have developed circuit elements consisting of multiple transistors to do the job that a single memristor does.  By chopping out these transistors and putting a memristor in their place, the circuit uses less power and is shrunk.  HP has demonstrated such a deployment in the first ever working memristor-transistor hybrid chip

Mr. Williams says making the device was easier than expected.  He states, "Because memristors are made of the same materials used in normal integrated circuits it turns out to be very easy to integrate them with transistors."

Mr. Williams and HP researcher Qiangfei Xia led a team which developed the circuit, a new type of field-programmable gate array (FPGA) which uses far fewer transistors by employing semiconductor titanium dioxide memristors. 

FPGAs are reprogrammable hardware circuits, one of the hottest fields in computer engineering today.  While FPGAs are frequently used by engineers to test their circuit designs on a smaller scale, as they're reconfigurable, they're too expensive, slow, and power-hungry for normal circuits.  Typically they are replaced by leaner dedicated circuits based on the optimized FPGA design.  Mr. Williams continues, "When you decide what logic operation you want to do, you actually flip a bunch of switches and configuration bits in the circuit.  What we're looking at is essentially pulling out all of the configuration bits and all of the transistor switches."

The new memristor-sporting FPGA design is more compact, more affordable, and uses far less power.  In short, it could become the first FPGA to be a viable competitor to dedicated silicon circuits.  The potential is impressive; imagine buying AMD or NVIDIA's latest graphics card and receiving regular hardware updates to increase performance and remove errata.  As Mr. Williams puts it, "If our ideas work out, this type of FPGA will completely change the balance."

Aside from traditional processing circuits, memristors are also very promising for flash memory, and could greatly reduce its cost.

HP researchers say that the biggest obstacle to memristor circuits is the lack of familiarity among engineers with the device.  However Mr. Williams and others at HP assure that the public will see memristor circuits within three years, and that the device has the potential to eventually transform the entire computing industry.

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RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By JasonMick on 11/26/2008 11:36:24 AM , Rating: 5
RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By Motoman on 11/26/2008 12:05:42 PM , Rating: 2
I <3 her. I <3 her a lot.

RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By MrJim003 on 11/26/2008 12:22:49 PM , Rating: 2
Why did you use this pic.. and What is the girls name?

RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By kattanna on 11/26/2008 12:34:04 PM , Rating: 3
this isnt the first time you have used her, but please feel free to continue


RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By maverick85wd on 11/26/2008 1:06:43 PM , Rating: 1
A Chinese girl, eh? One more reason for world peace :-)


And I agree with kattanna, use her pic as much as you like!

RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By SublimeSimplicity on 11/26/2008 2:52:55 PM , Rating: 5
The best thing about her being chinese is that even if she's one in a million, there are over a thousand more just like her.

RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By majBUZZ on 11/26/2008 8:59:11 PM , Rating: 2
That comment deserves a 6

RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By NubWobble on 11/26/08, Rating: 0
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 12/1/2008 8:53:27 AM , Rating: 3
Well, she is cute, no matter what. And if they all took their make up off, she would be in the same rank, so the make up comment doesn't buy you anything.

And many women don't care about cash. Just the pretty faces with nothing behind them. Fact is, she was probably snatched up by an HP marketing exec anyway.

But really, the shape of the epidermis on the front of a girls' skull is no basis for a relationship anyway.

RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By maverick85wd on 11/27/2008 9:18:26 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, it does deserve a six.

side note: seriously, rated down? some people will take offense to ANYTHING.

RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By Lifted on 11/27/2008 2:34:05 AM , Rating: 4
If it's really one in a million, I wouldn't count on it. She's half European.

RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By Fireshade on 11/28/2008 4:32:37 AM , Rating: 2
Not necessarily half-European.
She could have had a eye-lid job. And of course the hair is coloured. That brouwn-black is typically very popular in China/Korea/Taiwan/Japan.

RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By vic5014 on 12/3/2008 1:22:15 AM , Rating: 2
Eye-lid surgery is very popular in certain parts of Asia and so is the brown/black hair color. Apparently its what you get when you try to dye black hair blond. Now if she were a natural blond or a redhead, I'd have to agree.

RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By cokbun on 11/26/2008 10:30:06 PM , Rating: 5
hmm maybe i should put hp stickers on my girlfriend

RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By BruceLeet on 11/26/2008 11:48:58 PM , Rating: 5
HP Girl: I needed the money, I was desperate

She must be putting herself through college, I wonder whats going to happen when she becomes the head of a major oem manufacturer and these pictures are discovered. Or if her kids learn she was a techno-whore.

RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By JonnyDough on 11/28/2008 2:26:16 PM , Rating: 2
If that was my teenage slut mother I'd be proud, and slightly unnerved at myself for being interested in my mom.

RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By Jedi2155 on 11/27/2008 12:40:19 AM , Rating: 2
There is a girl who looks like that in one of my engineering courses....zomg.....too bad she's crazy :).

"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference

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