UH technology may revolutionize
Cougar News Staff
Do you love legally sharing home movies
with friends via your computer, but fear the large download time such endeavors
Fear not, for UH researchers have developed
and patented a new high-speed, high-capacity computer memory technology
that may allow
personal computer users to transfer large
files, such as digital movies, in a few seconds or less — as well as making
rebooting one's computer
a thing of the past.
"With current computers, if you turn the
power off and then turn it back on, you lose whatever you haven't saved,
and you have to reboot, or restart,
your system from the beginning," said
Alex Ignatiev, director of UH's Texas Center for Superconductivity and
Ignatiev and his UH colleagues Shangquing
Liu and Naijuan Wu are the developers of the new technology.
"Our type of memory is nonvolatile, which
means if you turn the power off, everything is still there. You turn your
computer back on and it's right
where you left it," Ignatiev said.
The Sharp Corporation has exclusively licensed
the technology, UH researchers announced. They are working with Sharp Laboratories
America in Camas, Wash., to develop commercial
applications for it.
The researchers have fabricated and tested
individual thin-film memory elements, made of a material called perovskite,
which can be
programmed to be more or less resistive
to the passage of electricity. A commercial memory product using this material
would result in a
resistive memory chip compatible with
modern personal computers, Ignatiev said.
This new technology could be the next generation
in mainstream computer memory, said Victor Hsu, director of the integrated
technology laboratory at Sharp Laboratories
"Once integrated into a computer, this
type of memory could be ideal for multimedia and broadband applications,
allowing PC users to
download information from the Internet
at very high speeds and allowing much faster processing of high-volume
information such as video and
graphics," Hsu said.
The new technology has other potential
benefits, as well: "We believe once it is fully developed into a commercial
chip it will be less expensive
than current memory technology," Hsu said.
Current personal computers have two kinds
of memory — random access memory, or RAM, and mass memory storage. RAM
is the active
memory that allows users to run programs
and process data; it does not save information if electrical power is lost.
Mass memory storage,
such as a computer's hard drive, permanently
stores data but works slowly.
The new resistive RAM technology may someday
replace both kinds of memory, Ignatiev said.
"This resistive memory is a constant, permanent
memory, but it's fluid as well, capable of rapidly storing information
of any kind in a nonvolatile
way," he said. "And it's all electronic,
with no mechanical parts such as those used in hard drives to read and
Ignatiev presented information about the
technology at the Second International Nonvolatile Memory Conference in
San Diego in November
Initially, the research at UH was funded
by NASA and the State of Texas through the Texas Center for Superconductivity
and Advanced Materials.
It is now supported by Sharp Laboratories