Six-State Memristor Opens Door to Weird Computing

A new memristor-based device could be used to build brainlike systems and base-10 computers

3 min read
Six-State Memristor Opens Door to Weird Computing
One-Way Memory: A titanium oxide nanowire acts as both a diode and a memristor.
Image: Trinity College

The newest fundamental electronic component, the mem­ristor, still holds some surprises, it seems. Since researchers built the first memristor six years ago, this mysterious device has promised a host of applications—denser nonvolatile memories,new universal logic gates, and brainlike computers,among other things. Add to these another, according to Trinity College ­Dublin ­physicists: base-10 memory.

Unlike transistor-based memories, which are designed to assume only binary states, the memristor can hold much more. The Trinity researchers constructed one that can remember six states, and there’s nothing to stop expanding that to 10 or more, they claim.

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The State of the Transistor in 3 Charts

In 75 years, it’s become tiny, mighty, ubiquitous, and just plain weird

3 min read
A photo of 3 different transistors.
iStockphoto
LightGreen

The most obvious change in transistor technology in the last 75 years has been just how many we can make. Reducing the size of the device has been a titanic effort and a fantastically successful one, as these charts show. But size isn’t the only feature engineers have been improving.

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