A team of researchers from universities in Singapore and Germany have found a way to turn the latest models of RAM memory chips into data processing units and effectively eliminate the need for a CPU.
Their research focused on Redox-based resistive switching random access memory (ReRAM), the latest generation of RAM memory chips. ReRAM chips are currently developed and tested by companies such as Panasonic and SanDisk, and ReRAM chips will soon hit the commercial market.
The way ReRAM works is to use a Ternary system instead of the Binary system. This means data can be stored inside ReRAM using multiple states instead of two (0 and 1), opening the door for storing larger amounts of data.
Other ReRAM features also include long-term storage capacity, low energy usage and ability to be produced at the nanoscale level.
These ground-breaking properties have attracted not only hardware manufacturers to this new technology but research teams as well, who are now experimenting with new ways to use ReRAM.
A research team comprised of scientists from Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, and Germany's RWTH Aachen University and Forschungszentrum Juelich (research institute) have devised a new computing circuit that takes advantage of ReRAM's extra memory space in order to perform computing tasks.
In simple terms, the research team moved the CPU's binary computing operations into ReRAM's free memory space.
Researchers say that their discovery would allow hardware manufacturers to use ReRAM chips and eliminate the need to include CPUs in modern-day devices. This includes not only desktop PCs and laptops, but also smaller devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and IoT equipment.
Scientists say the biggest impact of this new technology is that computers gain a speed boost because data doesn't have to travel between the RAM and the CPU anymore.
This new computing model also cuts down the space utilized inside a device and reduces energy consumption because devices will have to supply power to only one component instead of two.
Researchers also believe that the concept of using different electrical resistance to store information in memory chips could be expanded to make ReRAM store data in even more channels than the four states they used in their experiment. The research team says that this could also speed up computational operations by giving more space to run CPU-related tasks.