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Silicon Proves Its Mettle as Resistive Memory

Silicon oxide memristors could make resistive RAM more compatible with CMOS chip manufacturing

4 min read

29 May 2012—Seeking denser, faster alternatives to the flash memory in smartphones and digital cameras, the world’s largest memory chipmakers are turning to resistive RAM,  or RRAM. Unlike silicon-based flash, resistive memory is made with oxides of other metals that can reversibly change their resistances. But silicon isn’t ready to step aside just yet.

This month, a European research team reported a silicon oxide–based resistive memory in the Journal of Applied Physics. It’s the second such device reported: James Tour’s group at Rice University reported one in 2008 and again in the journal Nano Letters in August 2010; the group announced a transparent version of the memory this year at the American Chemical Society meeting in March.

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Two Startups Are Bringing Fiber to the Processor

Avicena’s blue microLEDs are the dark horse in a race with Ayar Labs’ laser-based system

5 min read
Diffuse blue light shines from a patterned surface through a ring. A blue cable leads away from it.

Avicena’s microLED chiplets could one day link all the CPUs in a computer cluster together.

Avicena

If a CPU in Seoul sends a byte of data to a processor in Prague, the information covers most of the distance as light, zipping along with no resistance. But put both those processors on the same motherboard, and they’ll need to communicate over energy-sapping copper, which slow the communication speeds possible within computers. Two Silicon Valley startups, Avicena and Ayar Labs, are doing something about that longstanding limit. If they succeed in their attempts to finally bring optical fiber all the way to the processor, it might not just accelerate computing—it might also remake it.

Both companies are developing fiber-connected chiplets, small chips meant to share a high-bandwidth connection with CPUs and other data-hungry silicon in a shared package. They are each ramping up production in 2023, though it may be a couple of years before we see a computer on the market with either product.

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