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Although Hewlett-Packard and SK Hynix have fully developed memristor-based resistive random access memory (ReRAM) technology, they decided to postpone manufacturing of commercial ReRAM products to late 2013. Earlier the companies planned to commercialize memristor technology sometimes next summer, but business reasons have caused the delay.

"In terms of commercialization, we will have something technologically viable by the end of next year. Our partner, Hynix, is a major producer of flash memory, and memristors will cannibalize its existing business by replacing some flash memory with a different technology. So the way we time the introduction of memristors turns out to be important," said Stan Williams, Hewlett-Packard senior fellow and director of the company's cognitive systems laboratory, during a conversation at the Kavli Foundation.

The memristor, short for “memory resistor,” requires less energy to operate, can retain information even when power is off, and is faster than present solid-state storage technologies. It works by manipulating only a handful of atoms to produce a dramatic change in electrical resistance and therefore needs to be made using very advanced nano-scale process technologies. It was postulated to be the fourth basic circuit element by professor Leon Chua of UC Berkeley in 1971 and first intentionally reduced to practice by researchers in HP Labs, the company’s central research arm, in 2006. The technology can also perform logic, enabling computation to one day be performed in chips where data is stored, rather than on a specialized central processing unit.

The ReRAM is a product that holds potential to replace the flash memory currently used in smartphones, tablets, MP3 players and to serve as a universal storage medium - that is, memory that can behave as flash, DRAM or even a hard drive.

"One important aspect of memristors is that they are simple structures made from materials and processes already used in semiconductor foundries. 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," added Mr. Williams.

Earlier this year an HP visionary predicted that smartphones and tablets would start utilizing ReRAM-based storage sometimes in 2014 - 2015. However, with current plans to start commercial manufacturing of ReRAM in late 2013 it looks like the first mass products featuring the technology are only going to emerge in 2015 - 2016.

Tags: HP, Memristor, ReRAM, Hewlett Packard, Hynix, SK Hynix, NAND, Flash

Discussion

Comments currently: 2
Discussion started: 09/28/12 01:28:18 PM
Latest comment: 02/26/14 05:07:39 PM

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1. 
Makes sense.

Brass tacks Explanation:

Everyone agrees NAND will hit a hard wall around 10nm.

While others (Micron, Samsung, etc) are currently producing 20nm-level NAND that are starting to trickle out in products (2012-2013), Hynix is expected to release 15nm NAND next year (2013-14).

Process tech is on an approx 2 year cadence (Moore's Law). It makes sense this will come as the successor to ~15nm NAND from Hynix, or competition to other companies whom may try to introduce NAND in the ~2015 timeline on a ~10-12nm process.

Timing obviously will be crucial. Hynix should have the smallest process tech NAND for some time and do not want to cannibalize themselves. OTOH, they appear ready to leap-frog the competition when the time arrives that their 15nm NAND is taken over in the market by 10-12nm chips created by Micron/Samsung/Toshiba.
0 0 [Posted by: turtle  | Date: 09/28/12 01:28:19 PM]
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2. 
With the HP deal only Hynix is in a place to eat its young and replace them with better behaving bits. I can see the need to flush the queue and manage a migration - but that just leaves competitors time to respond. Who wants NVM that lasts forever, takes a lot less battery power to operate and writes as fast as it reads...uh, everybody.

Whoever can deliver their ultrabook, phone or MP3 player with memristors first - gets my dollar. This mean demand will skyrocket on transition and the fab that can scale to volume delivery will be a virtual monopolist - while the remaining flash players are forced to spend to convert even as their returns on high-end flash deteriorate.
0 0 [Posted by: Billabob Johnson  | Date: 02/26/14 05:07:39 PM]
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