HP scientists have discovered a fourth element of electrical circuits, the memrister, the implications of which could be revolutionary:
Engineers could, for example, develop a new kind of computer memory that would supplement and eventually replace today’s commonly used dynamic random access memory (D-RAM). Computers using conventional D-RAM lack the ability to retain information once they are turned off. When power is restored to a D-RAM-based computer, a slow, energy-consuming “boot-up” process is necessary to retrieve data stored on a magnetic disk required to run the system.
Memristor-based computers wouldn’t require that process, using less power and possibly increasing system resiliency and reliability. Chua believes the memristor could have applications for computing, cell phones, video games – anything that requires a lot of memory without a lot of battery-power drain.
As for the human brain-like characteristics, memristor technology could one day lead to computer systems that can remember and associate patterns in a way similar to how people do.
This could be used to substantially improve facial recognition technology or to provide more complex biometric recognition systems that could more effectively restrict access to personal information.
These same pattern-matching capabilities could enable appliances that learn from experience and computers that can make decisions.