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Memristor advances promise self-processing memory units.

In November of 2008, DailyTech covered the release of an technology from HP Labs dubbed the memristor. The memristor, a resistor with memory capabilities, promised leaps forward in circuit architecture as the devices could function as and replace the power of traditional transistors, but with a smaller build count per chip.

Memristors have other uses as well -- flexible, dense memory storage with the capability to save its contents without constant power promised to revolutionize on-board memory for low-power devices like MP3s players and mobile phones.

HP Labs produced another technological leap last week as it released information in the journal
Nature of a self-computing memristor. A device able to act as both a processor and a memory device. Without the need to send all instructions to a central processing unit, the memristor devices could contribute significantly to everything from supercomputers to hand-held electronics.

Memristors are faster than standard flash memory, able to hold more information then most current means of memory storage, and hold their "charge" without direct power. An instant-on device powered by memristors could literally be turned on and off at the users discretion without risk of losing data or lengthy boot-up times common to classical integrated circuit architecture.

Rather than storing data as an electrical charge, a memristor "remembers" the amount of voltage last run through it as a change in resistance in one layer. This resistance can be measured afterward and will not change even if the unit is not receiving power of any kind.

Lab directory R. Stanley Williams intimated that our brains are made of organic memristors and this technology could lead to computers that function more like human brains than the various processing architectures currently available on silicon.





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