Amid some concern that progress in semiconductor technology might stall out in the not-too-distant future, HP researchers are set to announce advances in a new type of circuit that may very well keep electronics on the path promised by Moore’s Law for a long time to come.
Progress in the entire electronics industry is predicated almost entirely on the ability to keep reducing the size of transistors, capacitors and other common elements of integrated circuits (the subject of Moore’s Law). But past a certain size threshold, it is possible that the physics of these basic circuit elements will cease to pertain. A new type of circuitry is likely to be needed if miniaturization of electronics is to continue.
In 1971, Leon Chua described a circuit element called a memristor, which could theoretically be used both as a storage element (like a capacitor) and a switching element (like a transistor).
In 2008, scientists at HP said they had developed a switching memristor. Earlier this year, in April, HP had announced the development of a 3 nanometer memristor capable of nanosecond switching. That is one-tenth the size of the smallest transistors employed in commercial ICs (between 30 and 40 nanometers) today, and about equally as fast.
HP is set today to announce further advances, according to a report in The New York Times.
The report quotes an HP scientist who said he expects the company could have a competitor to flash memory in three years that would have a capacity of 20 gigabytes per square centimeter, at least a factor of two better storage than flash memory will be able to have in that time frame.