Folks over at the University of Exeter have demonstrated what they call the memflector – an optical equivalent of the memristor. Built using advanced semiconductor materials capable of phase-change, the team has constructed a processor that can compute and store data simultaneously. This is quite unlike today’s computers, which have separate components for memory and processing, but is supposedly very similar to what our brains, or biological computers do.
The team is calling their advancements a large step forward in computing, potentially leading to much faster, cheaper, and more power efficient computers. The work is also a big step toward achieving another milestone in the field – ‘brain-like’ computing. The memflector-based processor demonstrated synaptic-like functionality, with each phase-change cell mimicking the “integrate and fire” mechanism of a neuron. The processor is also capable of reliably executing the four basic arithmetic functions. [RELATED_ARTICLE]
Hopes are high for the new technology, and the team’s next step is down the biological alley, aiming to develop better brain-like computers by making their still basic processor much more complex, with interconnected systems of phase change cells that can ‘learn’ simple tasks using both memory and computing, such as pattern and object recognition.
The lead author of the team’s paper, Professor David Wright, commented on the achievement:
“We have uncovered a technique for potentially developing new forms of 'brain-like' computer systems that could learn, adapt and change over time. This is something that researchers have been striving for over many years.”
We are quite excited about these advancements and their potential for change. Coupled with developments in the digital memristor field, such as ReRAM and FET-baseduniversal memory, the future of computing is looking brighter then ever.