Updates to this story
HP has announced that it has entered into a joint development agreement with semiconductor company Hynix to bring its memory resistor (known as memristor) building block into future memory products.
HP has said the two companies will jointly develop new materials and process technology to transfer the memristor technology from research to commercial development in the form of Resistive Random Access Memory (ReRAM). This is non-volatile memory with low power consumption that holds the potential to replace Flash memory currently used in mobile phones and MP3 players. It also has the potential to serve as a universal storage medium - that is, memory that can behave as Flash, DRAM or even a hard drive.
Hynix will implement the memristor technology in its research and development fab.
Memristors are said to require less energy to operate, are faster than present solid-state storage technologies and can retain information even when power is off. The memristor was postulated to be the fourth basic circuit element by Prof. Leon Chua of the University of California at Berkeley in 1971 and first intentionally reduced to practice by researchers in HP Labs, the company’s central research arm, in 2006.
However, earlier this year, HP announced that the memristor could also perform logic, and this suggests that memristor-based devices could change the standard paradigm of computing by allowing computation to one day be performed in chips where data is stored, rather than on a specialised central processing unit.
R. Stanley Williams, a HP senior fellow and founding director of the information and quantum systems laboratory in the company's research unit, said Hynix was selected in part because it had not already selected another future memory technology. "Other companies we talked to have already made large investments in other technologies," he said. "They were reluctant to start yet another new technology development effort."
Image Credit: R. Stanley Williams, HP Senior Fellow and Director, Information and Quantum Systems Lab, HP Labs