Existing computers rely on electrons to help processors access data from memory. This is the conventional setup that performs calculations out of data transferred between different processors, which process tend to slow down upon transmission.
Engineers at Hewlett-Packard (HP) have found a way to speed up this process. They developed a supercomputer that is 8,000 times faster than present computers.
The Machine, as the company calls their invention, was revealed in 2014. It was said to make use of a new computer architecture that depends more on memory for calculations rather than computer processors.
HP, through its business arm HP Enterprise, recently released a prototype that provides an insight of their revelation two years ago. It also gives a clue of the future of computers.
Simulations of HP showed that memory-driven computing can achieve improved execution speeds up to 8,000 times faster than conventional computers.
It’s not really designed as a consumer PC though. The Machine is made for companies with high-end servers including Facebook and YouTube.
However, HP doesn’t leave us hopeless of having this architecture exclusive to tech giants – the company says that memory-driven computing, the one used in their supercomputer, could someday be found in consumer products and smart devices.
But what really is their secret to this ingenious computer? One word: photonics.
Instead of using the electrons to access data, the HP supercomputer uses light to transmit information. This allows numerous processors to access one memory pool simultaneously, hence speeding up the process. Loading the device with extra memory even enhances the transmission speed.
The Machine’s 2016 prototype uses 8 terabytes of memory in total. That’s 30 times the amount of a conventional server’s capacity, and hundred times more memory than the amount of RAM of a traditional PC.
HP doesn’t plan to stop in developing further this computing technology and aims to develop systems with hundreds of terabytes of memory. This is in addition to their experimental memory chip called a memristor, which is capable of retaining data even when powered down.
Within 12 months, the Machine is expected to be released commercially. After that, it won’t be long that the memristors will be fully functional.