For the past couple of years, a team of HP scientists have sat tucked away in a laboratory with the sole goal of pushing memristor research. What exactly is a memristor? Put simply, it’s an electrical resistor with memory properties, and according to HP, memristors could push the speed of flash-based media tenfold or higher.
"This is sort of the missing element of the processor puzzle. It takes its place alongside the resistor, capacitor and inductor [as the fourth basic circuit element in chip engineering]. And it could change the way we do IT," said Stan Williams, HP senior fellow and Director of quantum Science Research.
Williams made those comments during the Flash Memory Summit in August 2009, and now less than a year later, Williams said they have discovered that the memristor "has more capabilities than we previously thought." No longer do Williams and Co. think memristors will just apply to storage devices, but they say "the memristor can perform logic, enabling computation to one day be performed in chips where data is stored, rather than on a specialized central processing unit."
If they’re right, this could end up extending Moore’s Law even after it’s no longer possible to shrink transistors, Williams said.