HP's futuristic 'Machine' computer, which was first announced by the company in 2014, has changed course a bit. HP first wanted to make this memory-driven computer using a new kind of memory chip dubbed the “memristor”, said to be as fast as DRAM memory with the extra perk of storing data permanently. It's a year later and HP will have to go in a different direction to at least get the Machine in prototype mode. Plans have changed, and during this week's HP Discover event, the company has announced it will be first using conventional DRAM and phase change memory. Definitely a less innovative plan, but at least a plan.
Using the non-volatile memistors would've been far too expensive, close to a $500 million investment on HP's part. Sticking with conventional DRAM for this generation model, HP claims to work its way up to phase change memory, then memristors in future generations of the Machine. The DRAM-based machine will work alongside a Linux-based OS, an adoption HP hopes will bring curious developers on board. It is also said to feature memory-driven computing, where each computer has its own universal memory that you can attach with any CPUs, GPUs, specialized processing units, and network interfaces (The Register).
Despite some sample hardware on display, HP's evidence of the Machine's progress doesn't mean it is anywhere close to being finished. In fact, the company's CTO Martin Fink has described the Machine as an end-of-decade project”. Once the company is ready to use the memristor technology, the Machines will be game changers, with capacities of up to 320TB of universal memory on board. Engadget explains that it will basically be a huge (about the size of a refrigerator) replacement computer for data server farms, only utilizing a fraction of the power. HP is ready to invest half a billion dollars in getting its first gen Machines underway. Still, without the addition of memristors for quite some time, will this idea even turn out to be a “game changer”?
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