Sunday, June 15, 2014

A New Machine Arrises

Way back in 2011 I wrote a fairly optomistic blog post about the prospects of resistive RAM (RRAM), a new storage technology that could end up replacing both the RAM and main hard drives in computers.  Well, things haven't progressed as fast since then as I might have hoped they would, but there has been one interesting development lately.  Apparently HP (who owns most of the patents for the most promising take on RRAM) has been poring a huge amount of resources into building a machine to take advantage of it, as well as exploring a few other interesting technologies.

The news reports I've seen have tended to exaggerate how radical this is a bit, and it's also been an interesting illustration of Paul Graham's essay on how corporate PR works.  But it looks like HP is doing serious systems level research into how new technologies can change computing.  As far as I can tell there hasn't been a lot of work done by people looking at changing both hardware and software systems at the same time for the last coupe of decades, it went out of fashion with the incredible dominance of the PC.

I was sort of hoping that HP would be giving a presentation on their work so far at the 2014 Hot Chips conference but now that the schedule is out it looks like they won't.  Oh well, I'm hoping they'll be putting out some papers or presentations on what they've been doing at some point.

In the mean time I'll be feeling happy about having spotted the need to do operating system level work to incorporate this new technology but also chagrin at having fallen into the classic trap of overestimating progress in the short term.

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