TheRegister – HP memristor-meister Stan Williams has revealed a product launch delay – saying commercial kit would be available by 2014 at the earliest – and said processor chips would eventually use nanoscale light networking.
Previously he has said that HP and fab partner Hynix would launch a memristor product in the summer of 2013. At the Kavli do, Williams said: “In terms of commercialisation, we’ll have something technologically viable by the end of next year.”
But that doesn’t mean a commercial product launch, and Hynix’s concerns about memristor device effect on flash are relevant: “Our partner, Hynix, is a major producer of flash memory, and memristors will cannibalise its existing business by replacing some flash memory with a different technology. So the way we time the introduction of memristors turns out to be important. There’s a lot more money being spent on understanding and modeling the market than on any of the research,” said Williams.
But is this right for the industry? I don’t think so. A delay would be damaging, because the memristor has the potential to solve one of the two major problems facing the technology industry: storage I/O.
Let me put it this way: it used to be that an application’s performance was limited by the clockspeed of the processor it ran on. But as applications have become distributed due to the rise of cloud/distributed computing, the block on many applications has moved to their input/output layer. This is true in both private and public clouds.
This block exists in two areas: latency to read and write data, and latency to shuffle the data between bits of kit. Memristors solve the first block, by making application access times significantly faster, while major IT companies such as Intel, IBM and Fujitsu are already working on photonic interconnects to solve the network bandwidth snafu.
If they delay the launch of the technology, HP and Hynix are withholding something that could benefit not just the technology industry, but every consumer of digital products on the planet.