updated 02:00 pm EDT, Wed April 30, 2008
HP's Quantum Systems Labs today said it has proved the existence of a technology that could permanently alter the design approach of computers. Called a memory resistor, or a "memristor," the technology discovered by R. Stanley Williams differs from traditional resistors and other circuits by inherently storing the history of the information it receives. The unique property would let a computer effectively avoid a start-up process: as memory would always store its most recent state, computers could be instantly ready for use.
The breakthrough would also reduce power consumption by saving the need to reload data and could also lead to human-like learning processes, HP adds. As a computer could always trace the history of information across the entire system, it could better process information such as face detection or adapt to the user based on long-term experience.
Although memristors are currently an established theory, the development isn't expected to translate to a shipping product in the immediate future. However, the company already explains that memristor-based storage could replace typical volatile RAM in a computer or find its way into consumer electronics where instant response or adaptive behavior will be useful.