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Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

 
And Now, For Something Completely Different

by tristero

Now this is cool:
A team of Hewlett-Packard scientists reported Wednesday in the science journal Nature that they have designed a simple circuit element they believe will enable tiny powerful computers that could imitate biological functions.

The device, called a memristor, could make it possible to build extremely dense computer memory chips that use far less power than today’s DRAM memory chips, which are rapidly reaching the limit in how much smaller they can be made.

The memristor, an electrical resistor with memory properties, may also make it possible to fashion advanced logic circuits, like a class of reprogrammable chips known as field programmable gate arrays, that are today widely used for rapid prototyping of new circuits and for custom-made chips that need to be manufactured quickly.

Potentially even more tantalizing is the memristors’ ability to store and retrieve a vast array of intermediate values, not just the binary 1s and 0s as conventional chips do. This makes them function like biological synapses, which would be ideal for many artificial intelligence applications ranging from machine vision to understanding speech...

The most significant limitation that the H.P. researchers said the new technology faces is that the memristors function about 10 times more slowly than today’s DRAM memory cells.
That's still mighty fast. I can think of all sorts of usages for my biz that could use memory that tiny and that power-stingy - can you say really, really, expressive electronic instruments, perhaps? Or extending existing ones like electric guitar?

But having available intermediate states between on and off...won't that require some serious rethinking of programming languages? And won't that increase the complexity of the task of programming (translated: the potential for bugs)?

If you know programming, please feel free to weigh in.


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