When it comes to mobile storage flash technology is the king, but every king eventually gets dethroned in time. Recently HP has talked a lot about its upcoming plans for commercial release of its memristor non-volatile memory.
This new form of resistance RAM is everything that FLASH can be yet offers more speed, better endurance, and is supposedly cheaper to produce than flash technology. If the technology is truly cheaper and faster could it have the potential to knock down the current King?
HP sees a big future for the memristor which essentially is a special type of resistor that retains its memory even without power. HP imagines a world where the memristor has replaced DRAM altogether. In this type of scenario you would shut off your PC leaving behind two open documents, a game of Solitaire, and this article.
Upon restart everything would start nearly instantly and leave off where you were previously. On the same note, HP says that further advances in memristor technology could even replace the HDD making the memristor a replacement for both temporary and permanent storage. This would greatly reduce the amount of components under the hood of your PC.
These grandiose claims are very far off from reality, but the memristor does have a more immediate future as a possible flash memory storage replacement. About a year ago, HP teamed up with Hynix to produce memory that would use memristor technology.
The official name for such as product is ReRAM, and beyond being faster it also promises less memory consumption. According to HP Senior Fellow Stan Williams we will likely see the first chips that sue the technology on market as early as 2013. At first they will be targeting smartphone memory and SSD replacements.
Right now SSD drives have only begun to take off but if ReRAM-based versions of these drives are faster and cheaper, it could pretty much mean the death of the hard-drive completely in laptops. Supposedly a 16GB ReRAM chip would cost about the same as around 8GB of standard flash, as an example.
So if they are cheaper, faster, and all around a better product you would think they are a shoe-in for success. Of course it took Flash nearly ten years to get the recognition it has today and for a time many were still even using outdated technologies such as floppies alongside the more powerful flash.
You have to wonder if HP has what it takes to pull off such a major change in direction, especially after its complete failure to market WebOS effectively. Of course WebOS didn’t offer a cheaper, faster alternative to other tablet OS and if ReRAM is as great as HP and its partners claim they should hopefully have much less problems with getting the technology adopted.
Outside of Hynix and HP, even Samsung has a huge team working memristor technology as well. With more big companies onboard the future for ReRAM is starting to look bright.
How soon does HP plan to start its competition against DRAM? According to HP this could begin as early as 2014, though they don’t have any false illusions that DRAM will instantly bow down and go away. The launch date for both ReRAM storage and DRAM looks like its going to happen during the lifecycle of the upcoming Windows 8.
Windows 8 is already taking measures such as changing the hibernation core, that allows faster boot times and shutdown. Imagine if ReRAM supported Windows 8 as well? The future of computing looks brighter (and faster) every day.
What do you think of HP’s new ReRAM technology? Does the memristor have a bright future ahead? Share your thoughts below!