Hewlett Packard is publishing its research in the science journal, Nature, outlining the creation of new hardware called memristors, the BBC reports. Memristors were first proposed in 1971 by Professor Leon Chua, and function as both a processor and a memory bank – rather than using two systems, the memsistor would operate both saving and operating data. Also, it’s extremely scalable, so-called “‘crude prototypes'” have already been developed as small as 3 nanometers (that’s as thick as cell membrane, only slightly larger than a DNA helix).
It is feasible, and a goal of the HP team to make a memory device out of a memristor with twice the memory of a flash drive of the same size. I personally own a thumb drive with 16 GB available on it – I’m floored. I don’t think my first laptop even had 2GB memory on it, and we’re talking about microscopic processors/memory drives. Insane.
Memristor can also be stacked on top of each other and strung together, meaning that eventually, and this tech is probably a decade down the road, we can have mobile media devices that store our entire libraries of books, movies, music, photographs, documents, all on a chip the size of a microSD card.
One of the really exciting thing about memristors (to nerds) is that the way they work brings us (read: computer scientists) one step closer to creating an artificial brain. Why is this important? Well, imagine you’re Phineas Gage, but you’re not living in 1848, you’re living in 2048. For some inexplicable reason you’re tampering gun powder with a metal rod and boom, the powder ignites and sends the metal stick you’ve been prodding the explosive substance with through your brain – it takes out your cranial implant that allows you to control all your electronics, stacked with about a billion memristors as well as a portion of your frontal lobe. You were smart enough to back up your files on another system, Phineas, so when you get your replacement brain chips (and brain), your complete library of Led Zeppelin tunes are already back on when you boot-up again. Of course you’ve also had your genes suppressed and your stem cells injected into donor tissue, so why’re you still such a dick, Phineas? I’m just sayin’s all.