Those of you with decent memories might be able to remember HP's announcement, way back in 2008, of a fourth circuit element dubbed the memristor which the company claimed would lead to a novel form of non-volatile memory capable of giving computers instant boot times. Well, we're a step closer to that reality thanks to a deal between HP and Hynix.

The memristor, short for "memory resistor," was originally developed in theory back in 1971 at the University of California at Berkeley, but it's taken until now for actual physical examples to appear.

HP, however, believes that it has cracked the issues surrounding the use of a completely novel circuit element and is ready to start developing its first commercial product: the ReRAM, or "Resistive Random Access Memory." In order to do so, it's teaming up with memory specialist Hynix to perform the actual manufacturing.

The companies believe that ReRAM could transform the way computers work: in HP's words, "ReRAM is non-volatile memory with low power consumption that holds the potential to replace Flash memory currently used in mobile phones and MP3 players[, but that] it also has the potential to serve as a universal storage medium - that is, [ReRAM] can behave as Flash, DRAM or even a hard drive."

HP has also worked out a way to make memristors perform logic operations, meaning that it is theoretically possible to develop a storage system capable of performing its own computation without having to bother the main system processor.

If the technology lives up to its expectations, and can actually make the transition from the lab to the market successfully, HP and Hynix could well have stolen a head start on the competition.

Do you believe that memristor technology is the future, or is the road to commercialisation longer than either HP or Hynix believe? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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