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HP Finds Circuit Element

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- HP (NYSE:HPQ) today announced that researchers from HP Labs, the companys central research facility, have proven the existence of what had previously been only theorized as the fourth fundamental circuit element in electrical engineering.

This scientific advancement could make it possible to develop computer systems that have memories that do not forget, do not need to be booted up, consume far less power and associate information in a manner similar to that of the human brain.

In a paper published in today’s edition of Nature, four researchers at HP Labs’ Information and Quantum Systems Lab, led by R. Stanley Williams, presented the mathematical model and a physical example of a “memristor” -- a blend of “memory resistor” -- which has the unique property of retaining a history of the information it has acquired.

Leon Chua, a distinguished faculty member in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Department of the University of California at Berkeley, initially theorized about and named the element in an academic paper published 37 years ago. Chua argued that the memristor was the fourth fundamental circuit element, along with the resistor, capacitor and inductor, and that it had properties that could not be duplicated by any combination of the other three elements.

Building on their groundbreaking research in nanoelectronics, Williams and team are the first to prove the existence of the memristor.
“To find something new and yet so fundamental in the mature field of electrical engineering is a big surprise, and one that has significant implications for the future of computer science,” said Williams. “By providing a mathematical model for the physics of a memristor, HP Labs has made it possible for engineers to develop integrated circuit designs that could dramatically improve the performance and energy efficiency of PCs and data centers.”

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