backtop


Print 80 comment(s) - last by HollyDOL.. on Dec 4 at 4:02 PM


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.



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By JonnyDough on 11/28/2008 2:39:36 PM , Rating: 1
While those on here who are serious about hot girls are pretty much sad and pathetic like you're saying, I have to admit that it's still fun to pretend to be a chauvinistic jerk checking out women like they're fine race horse stock - because I'm NOT one. Notice I said PRETEND. I pride myself on being a giving guy and helping women with their problems, not giving them more. Guys who can only think with their "down there" part and treat women like property aren't men at all. Real men have control of THEMSELVES and not other people.

/fatherly lesson for today's aged little boys


RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By HollyDOL on 11/29/2008 8:11:49 AM , Rating: 2
Have to admit that girl is really nice. Though as it often tends to be, they are cute as long as they keep their mouth shut. When you realise they are totaly 'empty inside', the magic is going to disappear pretty fast.

And as such, for me she'll stay beautiful forever since I have like zero chance to ever meet her :-)


RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By JonnyDough on 12/1/2008 4:47:00 AM , Rating: 2
I don't have to admit nuthin. But if you look like her I'll admit anything you want if you give me your number. I don't want it because you look like her, but because you look like her AND have a brain. Actually, as long as you're moderately attractive you don't have to look EXACTLY like her either. :-)


RE: Who is the HP girl.....
By HollyDOL on 12/4/2008 4:02:52 PM , Rating: 2
Erm, that kind of suggest I am a girl... that is a common mistake due to my nickname (which was somehow inherited from my PC name).


"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki