Memristors may displace silicon for faster computers

Researchers at HP Labs said they’d made a discovery that could cause computer systems to fundamentally change in the future.

The scientists say that the memristor – that a resistor fitted with memory – is set to be a more powerful tool than people thought. It could pave the way for computation to happen where data is stored, rather than in a CPU – described by the lazy as the brain of a computer.

Details of their findings are published in this week’s Nature magazine – HP has already created development ready architectures for memory chips using memristors. The next few years could see them implemented in the real world.

The company said that it has designed a new architecture letting multiple layers of memristor memory be stacked on top of each other in one chip. It predicts that in about five years’ time, the chips will make their way into handhelds giving 10 times more memory than now, and power supercomputers to do work much faster than Moore’s Law suggests.

HP is even predicting that memristor processors could replace silicon in e-reader smart displays and displace silicon as the primary agent for computers.

The researchers say that the devices need less energy to operate and are much faster than solid state flash memory, storing much more data in the same space.

They’re also immune from radiation and store data so will allow computers to be turned on and off like light switches.