Instant Gratification

Instant gratification is definitely taking to long these days. We all want faster computers and that usually means faster memory access as well as CPU clock speeds. The new player on the horizon is memristors.

These promise denser memory storage, faster access and, ultimately, my gratification time taking a dive. Engineers have been clawing their way towards this current Holy Grail for some time now, but the materials have been a little more exotic than good old silicon.

The good news is that thin films of partially oxidized silicon do just fine. Mehonic et al published their data in the Journal of Applied Physics last month (1) and presented it to the cognoscenti at the European Materials Research Society conference which was reviewed by the BBC (2).

Thin silicon films respond to a small current that leave behind a resistive trace in zones of around 10nm. The access speed is about 100 times faster with a much lower potential power consumption.

So not only will my laptop be much faster in the future, but it won’t cook my vitals as I use it on my lap on the train. And the battery life, well that might be magnificent too.


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