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HP Aiming for 100TB Smartphones

Smartphones are great for carrying around all sorts of data: documents, music, photos and videos are all popular types of data that the common consumer stores on their phone. The only problem is that smartphones, like all devices, have limited physical storage space. While some companies allow you to expand their phone’s storage with microSD cards, this isn’t possible on others. And although you can always use the cloud for storage, that’s not always reliable if you don’t have a data connection.

HP has begun a project that is aiming to reinvent the architecture of computers. While this is a very large scale research project, part of this is an Android version that could potentially lead to smartphones offering 100TB of storage. HP has undertaken this project because they believe that the current computer architecture isn’t capable of keeping up with today’s large storage needs. Thus, about two years ago, they tried to rethink computing from step one.

This new computer architecture is called The Machine and is based on a memory type called memristors and communications technology called silicon photonics (making use of light beams to transfer data around at quick rates). The aim is to create a universal memory pool, made up of memristors, that uses ions rather than electrons to represent computer code.

“Today, all our devices -- from phone to supercomputer -- constantly shuttle information between three layers of memory: what's needed this instant (SRAM), what will be needed very soon (DRAM) and what may be needed later (storage). Memristors will be fast, dense and cheap enough to play both the 'soon' and 'later' roles at once, and thereby speed up throughput by eliminating most of the to and fro,” said HP in a statement on their website.

The new architecture is so advanced and different that new processors have been designed. HP imagines that there will be pools of processors and memory chips, all connected with photonic cables, which will whizz data around at 6TB per second. There is also a need for a new operating system, so HP is building a Machine OS and also developing versions based on Linux and Google’s mobile system.

“After The Machine architecture and OS are in place, at some point in the future, the theory is that when you connect a memristor based Android device to a network with high enough bandwidth, it will become a node in a cloud with immediate access to the rest of that cloud," said Teich. “It's a different model of looking at device capabilities. Nothing will need to be 'downloaded' unless you plan to be disconnected from the larger network.”

Of course, all of this is currently in the works and could never actually reach the consumer market, let alone be tested on a wider scale. This work will continue to be carried out over the coming years, but it’s certainly an interesting development. Storage limits are constantly being pushed with evolving technology and it’s worth keeping an eye on HP and their ‘Machine’.


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