John D. Sutter, CNN (August 31, 2010)
"How do computers remember things?
"It's something most of us never think about. But you may start to take notice if HP Labs is successful in commercializing a new version of computer memory, which would make our electronics dramatically faster and more energy efficient.
"The technology is called memristor, and it is designed to work more like our brains and less like the electronic on and off switches that run computer memory now.
" 'The memristor has properties very similar to synapses in a brain,' said Stan Williams, a senior fellow at HP Labs, which has been working on this technology since 1998.
"Unlike conventional computer memory, which stores data with electronic on and off switches, Hewlett-Packard's memristor technology works on the atomic level. As electrons move across a titanium dioxide memristor chip, they nudge atoms ever so slightly, sometimes no more than a nanometer...."
That means that memristors can be smaller than their contemporary equivalents, run faster and use less energy. All of which make for smaller, more powerful, more energy-efficient - and faster - computers.
According to the CNN article, memristor technology should be on the shelves in about three years.
John D. Sutter mentions other new(ish) technologies, like Intel's phase-change memory, that uses crystal glass. (Glass isn't normally crystalline. It's more of a supercooled liquid. And that's another topic.)
- "More About the Marvelous Memristor"
(May 1, 2008)
- "Memristor: Cool New Technology from HP Labs"
(April 30, 2008)
A tip of the hat to CNN_Networks, on Twitter, for the heads-up on their article.