Memory that learns could help tomorrow's intelligent computers

Knowm hopes its new memristors will lead to new types of computers

As researchers try to build more complex computers that get closer to emulating the way the human brain works, one of the areas of focus is memory.

Existing chips, hard disks and tape drives are great at storing large amounts of data, but a new breed of memory chip called a memristor could go a step further: helping the artificial intelligence systems of tomorrow actually understand the data and make more use of it.

Memristors could help computers connect the dots to identify diseases or help self-driving cars recognize objects based on probabilities and associations. Memristors are best used in machine-learning models to make predictions based on patterns and trends culled from large stacks of information, said Alex Nugent, CEO of Knowm.

Knowm is a New Mexico-based start-up and one of the companies working on memristor technology.

Knowm's memristors are designed around human brains, in which a synapse that connects two neurons gets stronger the more often a signal is passed. Similarly, the learning and retention of information on Knowm memristor circuits are determined by data flow characteristics and the current.

Knowm doesn't yet have a fully functional memristor chip. But it has introduced prototype test kits for researchers and academics on which its memristor design can be emulated. Knowm's test kit will include a chip with analog and digital circuits, software packages and algorithms.

Knowm's current memristor is a "learning processor" that works alongside CPUs, GPUs and other processors, Nugent said.

The company is going up against some big competitors, including HP.

HP plans to use them in a new type of computer called The Machine. It believes memristors could potentially replace both storage and memory in computers and is partnering with SanDisk to make the components. SanDisk says memristors could be 1,000 times faster and durable than flash storage.

Nugent believes memristors will lead to new computers that are better at learning and extracting intelligence from data patterns. Machine-learning is possible on today's computers, but it is not efficient and draws a lot of power, Nugent said.

It could be many years until the first chips based on Knowm's architecture appear in commercial products. The startup is being funded through equity investment and government grant programs, and will receive more equity funding from an undisclosed partner in the coming months.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?