Feeds

HP demonstrates mega-memory concept

Memristor work continues apace

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Research work on HP's never-ever-forget Memristor concept is proceeding apace. Memristor technology could provide a new type of computer memory that's much faster than flash memory. HP Labs' engineers in Palo Alto have demonstrated control over how the technology operates, opening the door, they say, to its incorporation into integrated circuits (ICs).

The researchers are members of the Information and Quantum Systems Lab led by HP Senior Fellow R. Stanley Williams. A description of their work was published in the advance online editon of the July issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology. It involved the building of a 50 x 50 nanometer memristor switch with two layers of titanium dioxide (TiO2) between two nanowires (electrodes) deployed in a crossbar architecture.

The top and bottom wires are arranged perpendicular to each other. One TiO2 layer has oxygen vacancies and is a semi-conductor. The other has no such vacancies and is an insulator. The TiO2 layers between the point where a top line crosses a bottom line act a single bit cell.

MemristorTo the right is an image from Wikipedia of a circuit with 17 memristors sandwiched between two top and bottom wires, captured by an atomic force microscope. The wires are 50nm - about 150 atoms - wide. Each memristor is composed of two layers of titanium dioxide, of different resistivities, connected to wire electrodes. As electric current is passed through the device, the boundary between the layers moves, changing the net resistance of the device. This change may be used to record information.

The device's function could be controlled by changing the distribution of the oxygen atoms in this layer. A voltage bias is applied across the crossbars and causes oxygen vacancies to migrate from one TiO2 layer to the other, lessening its insulation capability and making it conduct. Such changes were associated with the ability of current to flow through the switch with 'on' and 'off' conductivity states equating to 1 and 0, or vice-versa.

Reversing the voltage bias direction sends the oxygen vacancies back into the semi-conductor layer and the insulating function returns to the other layer. This is how the switch could be turned off.

Interestingly the researchers found that the switch could also deliver in-between states, like an analog electrical circuit, meaning it could return more than two numeric values. Exactly how many hasn't been determined. (See also an article on trinary digits with nanowire technology.)

A digital memristor device could be a replacement for flash, being much smaller, very fast and non-volatile. HP calls such a device RRAM, for resistive random-access memory, and suggest a working prototype could arrive in 2009.

The researchers also speculate that in analog mode it could operate as an analog computer in a way thought to be similar to how the human brain operates as a neural network. A system would come to a conclusion about some issue by summing or subtracting lots of memristors' in-between states to arrive at a judgement about an issue such as face or speech recognition.

However, the prime market focus is to provide a flash memory replacement.

Wikipedia has an excellent Memristor article.

Copyright © 2008, Blocks & Files.com

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft: Azure isn't ready for biz-critical apps … yet
Microsoft will move its own IT to the cloud to avoid $200m server bill
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
Silicon Valley jolted by magnitude 6.1 quake – its biggest in 25 years
Did the earth move for you at VMworld – oh, OK. It just did. A lot
VMware's high-wire balancing act: EVO might drag us ALL down
Get it right, EMC, or there'll be STORAGE CIVIL WAR. Mark my words
Forrester says it's time to give up on physical storage arrays
The physical/virtual storage tipping point may just have arrived
VMware vaporises vCHS hybrid cloud service
AnD yEt mOre cRazy cAps to dEal wIth
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.