Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ever heard of a 'memristor'?

Even if you haven't, you may soon be using one. Scientists at Hewlett-Packard have just built the first one - and it looks very interesting. According to a news report:

Basic electronics theory teaches that there are three fundamental elements of a passive circuit - resistors, capacitors and inductors.

But in the 1970s, Leon Chua of the University of California at Berkeley, theorised there should be a fourth called a memory resistor, or memristor, for short, and he worked out the mathematical equations to prove it.

Now, a team at Hewlett-Packard led by Stanley Williams has proven that 'memristance' exists. They developed a mathematical model and a physical example of a memristor, which they describe in the journal Nature.

. . .

Williams likens the property to water flowing through a garden hose. In a regular circuit, the water flows from more than one direction.

But in a memory resistor, the hose remembers what direction the water (or current) is flowing from, and it expands in that direction to improve the flow. If water or current flows from the other direction, the hose shrinks.

"It remembers both the direction and the amount of charge that flows through it. ... That is the memory," Williams said.

The discovery is more than an academic pursuit for Williams, who said the finding could lead a new kind of computer memory that would never need booting up.

"If you turn on your computer it will come up instantly where it was when you turned it off. That is a very interesting potential application, and one that is very realistic," Williams said.

I don't know so much about instant-boot computers. That's a 'nice to have', but hardly an essential. However, think about this thing in artificial intelligence systems. I programmed some primitive AI systems back in the 1980's. The idea was to have software - a program - that could assess and judge conditions and apply a solution in the real world. If one could have electronic components that have a 'memory', as this memristor seems to have, couldn't one associate AI software with hardware that also learns, or remembers, past states?

This could be very, very interesting for robotics. Watch this space.



Dustin said...

I think instant-boot computers would be great. Think of the power savings available if computers instantly turned off when you weren't using them and seamlessly turned back on as soon as you needed them again.

Simeron Steelhammer said...

Well, I'm following these developments and have been for a bit now. Memory such as this doesn't seem like a big deal at first but, if you add this bit of tech with the "Magenetic memory" and the "Magenetic CPUs" that are already coming out to the market NOW you are talking some big time robotic stuff.

Basically not only is the CURRENT being remembers via the path it is going down, the INFORMATION is always there to be accessed EQUALLY instantly.

To give you some idea...

Think of the "imaginary" guns of Judge Dredd and the Judges. They were coded so that they responded to VOICE commands to chamber different ammo, they only worked for the DNA code of the BARE hand that grabbed it first time and if someone else grabbed ahold of it and tried to use it, the gun STUNNED the person thereby rendering the weapon USELESS for anyone but the person that was supposed to be carrying it.

These two technologies could very well BUILD a firearm like this.

Now, take this a step farther...

House and car locks, ignition systems, security consoles...

I'm sure you all see the point.

Of course, this could also be the very technology that brings the "Mark of the Beast" into play that the Bible talks about too so, like with any technology, watch who gets to use it.

Anonymous said...

I think once the hard drives go to solid state then the features like "hibernate" in WinXP will work a lot faster.

The hard drive is the main bottle neck, as they are now, to lag-free computing.