HP’s ‘Machine’ Novel Computing Platform Changing Directions, No Memristors Yet

Posted Jun 5, 2015
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HP’s Machine computing platform was supposed to wow the world with it’s unique architecture and its use of the meristor, a non-linear passive two-terminal component capable of acting as a logic-gate and long term storage. The memristor, however, isn’t quite ready, so HP has shifted away from their original dream.

Array of 17 oxygen depleted titanium dioxide memristors from HP.

 

HP has shifted their Machine platform to a more conventional approach until memristors are ready for prime time manufacturing.

The idea behind HP’s machine was to be able to provide persistent memory that’s fast enough to handle tasks far faster than current technology while using lower amounts of power. They wanted a memory-driven computer architecture. Memristors were the key to this evolution in computing. They are able to provide incredibly dense, and thus large amounts of storage that are also at least as fast as current DRAM solutions. This increase in speed could theoretically remove the storage bottleneck.

That radical new approach isn’t quite ready for mass manufacture yet, so HP has instead opted to move towards a a more conventional approach that still relies on large quantities of DRAM with a custom Linux distro running on top of it all. Soon after they hope to introduce a more commercially viable phase change memory technology to developers, and then finally a memristor version once it’s market-ready.

Because of the generally memory intensive compute tasks that most servers seem to have, their initial platform is intended to attract developers so as to introduce them to their custom OS and get people excited about the memory-drive compute architecture. Because it’ll be completely different, that means new development tools and maybe even their own distinct programming language as well.

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HP is still excited to be able to bring completely new ways to tackle computing issues, but current manufacturing processes prevent their time to market more than they initially predicted. Their ambitious project has been scaled back appropriately. The memristor will still be the primary method of computing along with photonic interconnects and of course their custom operating system.

 

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