Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Integrated Memory and What It Means

Can we see the next thing in computing from here? I don’t mean just the next fastest processor or the next larger memory, but a true turn like smartphones were, now that we are living ex post smartus. That is the issue, will it be soft electronics? A totally new way of non-invasive interface that allows us to control the new technology that might be around the corner?

As an unpublished, except for this blog, science-fiction writer I have to say that it frustrates me at the same time it intrigues me. I have written stories about nanotechnology, others about genetics, especially AI, as well as space travel and the differences it may make in our lives, or how it might not be as drastic as we all hope or fear.

So let’s start with a simple, but gargantuan advance: Integrated memory. IEEE reported on a new technology that Intel is releasing soon. It is basically the RAM of the computer integrated into Non-Volatile Memory. Or to put it simply, the entire state of the computer could be saved in such a way that turning it off and then on again would seem not to have an effect.

Oh wait, off and on again is a good way of resetting the OS. If we take that away how will less technical people fix their computers? I’ll leave those implications for thought.

Focusing on the more positive aspects: If we can have one fewer piece to worry about in the computer architecture, or more likely: turning “RAM” into just a virtual partition of the “Hard disk” might mean a large simplification for internal networking architecture and the massive amounts of timing that goes into making a beast like the one I am writing on right now continue to function well.

But one of the major directions this has implications for is the next step of integrated processing. Essentially computers have a really hard time emulating the human brain for the main reason that its architecture is utterly different. With the innovations of potential 3d layering in this iteration and simplifying the overall communication architecture; maybe future innovations such as photonic circuits will allow a chip to be close to emulating a human brain with its integrated yet distributed properties.

This could majorly boost Artificial Neural Networks in that they could actually be physical networks of memory and processing. Where these new, or at least finally realised, ideas will take us, I don’t know. But what I truly wonder about is the technology that maybe only a few people know or are thinking about. How radically will it change the world?

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