New fundamental circuit element discovered

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The DailyTech is reporting today on an innovation out of HP labs that appeared in Nature yesterday (Nature article here)

 Researchers at HP Labs, the central research center for the company, confirmed the existence of the previously theorized fourth fundamental circuit element of electrical engineering.

The new component is called the “memristor” — a word blend of “memory” and “resistor”.

The existence of the device was theorized back in 1971 by UC Berkeley professor Leon Chua.

The device could eventually make dynamic random access memory (DRAM) obsolete.  In current systems, active computers store data in DRAM, but must shuffle the information to and from a magnetic hard disk or a flash drive, nonvolatile forms of memory.  Furthermore, when the computer is turned on, the DRAM must be initially loaded from the magnetic memory.  These processes consume both time and energy, slowing computing and raising the energy and heat envelopes of systems.

A memristor would need no boot up as its data would be exactly how it was previously left.  Data could theoretically be read and wrote [sic] directly to and from memristors, eliminating the need for hard drives, except possibly for backup storage.

Data would be impervious to power interruptions, and require a lot less power to maintain. The whole article is fascinating…I recommend it.