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HP, Hynix Not Commercializing ReRAM Until 4Q13

Stan Williams, Hewlett-Packard senior fellow and director of the company's cognitive systems laboratory, recently said that the company has decided to postpone manufacturing commercial memristor-based ReRAM (resistive random access memory) products until late 2013. The company originally planned to go into production during 2Q/3Q 2013.

"We'll have something technologically viable by the end of next year. It's sad to say, but the science and technology are the easy part," he told The Kavli Foundation. "The economics, investment, and market readiness are harder."

He went on to explain that Hynix, a major producer of flash memory that co-developed ReRAM with HP, will see its existing business "cannibalized" by memristors because they will replace some of its flash memory products. That means timing the introduction of memristors will be extremely important for the entire industry.

"There's a lot more money being spent on understanding and modeling the market than on any of the research," he said. "Development costs at least 10 times as much as research, and commercialization costs 10 times as much as development. So in the end, research -- which we think is the most important part -- is only 1-percent of the effort."

Short for "memory resistor", memristors can retain information even when powered off, requires less energy to operate, and is faster than current SSD technology. As current flows through the memristor in one direction, the electrical resistance increases – it decreases when current flows in the opposite direction. When the current stops, the memristor retains the last resistance that it had. Once the flow resumes, the circuit returns to what it was when it was last active.

HP began developing a switching memristor back in 2008, based on a thin film of titanium dioxide. At the time, the company predicted the tech would be commercially available 18 months later. Even more, HP said it will serve as a replacement for DRAM, SRAM, Flash and SSDs.

"One important aspect of memristors is that they are simple structures made from materials and processes already used in semiconductor foundries," Williams added. "This is critical, because we would face tremendous resistance if we asked the industry to change technologies. But they don't have to change. If you know what you're doing - and there's a lot of intellectual property involved - literally any foundry could make memristors tomorrow."

With commercial manufacturing of ReRAM not starting until the end of 2013, products utilizing this new tech – such as smartphones, tablets and more – likely won't show up on store shelves until 2015 or 2016.

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  • tanjo
    Replace SSD, flash, yes... and maybe DRAM for gadgets. Unfortunately, memristors, like flash have write endurance. So, no, I don't want that in my desktop's RAM slot.
    Reply
  • Interesting, can't wait! :D
    Reply
  • ojas
    That's all good, just give me my DDR4-2800 in time for Haswell and i'll be happy. :)
    Reply
  • Estix
    tanjoReplace SSD, flash, yes... and maybe DRAM for gadgets. Unfortunately, memristors, like flash have write endurance. So, no, I don't want that in my desktop's RAM slot.A good point, but, personally, I don't care about write endurance, so long as the expected life of the component is at least as long as the service life of the device.
    Reply
  • alidan
    tanjoReplace SSD, flash, yes... and maybe DRAM for gadgets. Unfortunately, memristors, like flash have write endurance. So, no, I don't want that in my desktop's RAM slot.
    for me, depends entirely on how many cycles it has.

    seeing as you could do a fullshutdown to full windows boot exactly how you left it in less than 10 seconds, im at least intrested, granted, it needs to either have a few million writes, or be a backup for ram, like if i "shut down" the computer, ram gets dumped to that ram, and it boots from that ram while everything is moved to normal ram.
    Reply
  • Mathos
    If it's usable to replace SRam the endurance is likely going to be pretty high. Considering Sram is what they use for Cache memory in most processors.
    Reply
  • ethanolson
    Well... everything has endurance. I hope the ReRAM has very high endurance so I can use it for 5+ years.
    Reply
  • A Bad Day
    tanjoReplace SSD, flash, yes... and maybe DRAM for gadgets. Unfortunately, memristors, like flash have write endurance. So, no, I don't want that in my desktop's RAM slot.
    There are plans of pushing memristors into other microchips to replace transistors, possibly including CPU and GPU.
    Reply
  • nurgletheunclean
    tanjoReplace SSD, flash, yes... and maybe DRAM for gadgets. Unfortunately, memristors, like flash have write endurance. So, no, I don't want that in my desktop's RAM slot.I have serious doubts their DRAM implementation would include desktop system memory replacement. There's no way it will be fast enough. Consider that DDR3 1600 is 12,800MB/s vs a fast toggle NAND is ~60MB/s If they could get even close to 5% that level of performance from ReRAM, they would release it as soon as possible since you wouldn't need any complicated controller (marvell/sandforce) to fully saturate a SATA3 interface. A USB3 thumb drive would be as fast at the fastest SSDs today.

    And for the people thinking that write endurance wouln't be an issue for system memory you are flat out wrong. DDR's number of write operations are far more frequent than disk writes, you don't "feel" them because they happen so fast. Typically you would write to memory 10x+ as often as a disk, as all disk reads are going to be memory writes, as well as all the different transformations, moves, copies, decompression, etc all are memory write operations.
    Reply
  • tanjo
    @nurgletheunclean:
    I've read that Elpida made a ReRAM prototype (64Mb) with a write speed of 10ns (which they say is 10x faster than the best NAND) with a million times write endurance.

    Then again no, I really don't want that as RAM. But they do obliterate flash hands down. Ultra low power plus x times faster. The problem is compatibility with current devices with flash based card readers. But upcoming tablets/smartphones can use this as internal storage no problem. (And maybe make it viable to turn off tablets if they can make it boot under 10 secs :))

    I wonder what the price/GB would be?
    Reply