Is the next big discovery? The memristor, a microscopic component that can "remember" electrical states even when turned off,
Is the next big discovery? The memristor, a microscopic component that can “remember” electrical states even when off, but should be much cheaper and faster than flash storage. This theoretical concept that has been developing since 1971 has now been built in laboratories and is starting to revolutionize everything we know of computing, in less than a decade may make obsolete the flash memory, RAM and even hard disk drives .
The memristor is just one of the incredible technological advances that are casting a shock wave through the world of computing. Other innovations we’ll see soon are more practical, but also marked important milestones. From the technologies that finally make paperless office a reality until able to send electricity through a room without wires, these developments will turn the humble PC into a very different thing at the beginning of the next decade.
In the following sections, we highlight the basics of 15 upcoming technologies, with predictions of what might happen to them. Some are just around the corner, further advances are still out of reach. And all you have to pay attention …
Inside your PC
An innovative new circuit
Since the dawn of electronics, we only had three types of circuit components: resistors (also called resistors), coils (also called inductors or chokes) and capacitors. But in 1971 Leon Chua, a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, theorized the possibility of a fourth type of component that could measure the flow of electric current: the memristor. Now, 37 years later, Hewlett-Packard has built one.
What is? As the name implies, the memristor can “remember” how much current has passed it. And the amount of alternating current through it, a memristor can also act as a circuit of a single element with unique properties. The most notable is that it can save its electronic state even when the current stops flowing, making it a great candidate to replace today’s flash memory.
In theory, the memristor will be cheaper and much faster than flash memory and will allow far greater memory densities. They could also replace RAM chips we all know, that after turning off the computer remember exactly what he was doing and start working instantly. This cost reduction and consolidation of components may lead to low-cost transistorized computers that fit in your pocket and run much faster than current PC.
Someday the memristor could spawn a new type of computer, thanks to their ability to remember a whole range of electrical states rather than the simplistic “on” and “off” than today’s digital processors recognize. Working with a dynamic range of states in an analog mode, memristor-based computers could handle more complex tasks than just transport ones and zeros.
When will? Researchers say there is no real barrier to immediately implement memristor based circuits. But it depends on the business side to create products for the market. Memristors to replace the flash memory (at a lower cost and with less energy consumption) will likely appear first, the goal of HP’s offer in 2012. Beyond that time, the memristor will likely replace the DRAM and hard drives between 2014 and 2016. As for memristor-based analog computers, this step may take more than 20 years.
CPU with 32 cores under the hood
If your CPU has only one core is officially a dinosaur. In fact, quad-core computing is now commonplace: today you can buy up to quad-core laptops. But really we are witnessing the beginning of the war of the nuclei: the lead in the CPU market will soon be decided by who has the highest number of cores, not clock speed higher.
What is? Having largely abandoned the race for gigahertz, Intel and AMD are now trying to include more cores on a chip or chip in order to continue to increase processing power and help operations involving multiple tasks. The continuing miniaturization of chips will be important to package these cores and other components in a limited space. In 2009, Intel will produce 32-nanometer processors (down from 45nm chips today).
When will? Intel has been very effective in adjusting to its work program. A six-core CPU based on the design of Itanium due out for when driving this issue, and from that time Intel will change its approach towards a new architecture called Nehalem, which will be released under the name Core i7. Core i7 will have up to eight cores and eight-core systems will be available for 2009 or 2010 (and there are also reports that an eight-core project called AMD appears to Montreal in 2009).
The 64-bit computing allows more RAM
In 1986, Intel released its first 32-bit CPU. The first operating system Windows 32-bit Windows NT 3.1-did not come until 1993, thus officially end the era of the 16 bits. Now the 64-bit processors are common on desktops and laptops, but Microsoft still will not commit to a 64-bit Windows. But you can not live in the world of the 32-bit forever.
What is? The 64-bit versions of Windows have been around since Windows XP and 64-bit CPUs have been longer in the market. In fact, almost all computers sold today have a 64 bit processor under the hood. At some point, Microsoft will have to abandon the 32-bit entirely, as it did when it launched the 16-bit Windows NT, if you want to force consumers (and developers of software and hardware) to improve. It is not likely to happen with Windows 7: the next OS has already been announced with both 32 and 64 bits. But the limitations in 32-bit installation or later tremprano force change, and users of Vista 32 bit already know the problem, then found that the OS does not recognize more than 3GB of RAM because it simply does not have the bits to access the additional memory.
When will? Expect to see the shift toward accelerated 64-bit Windows 7, Microsoft is likely to opt exclusively for the 64-bit Windows 8. And this will happen by 2013 at least. Meanwhile, Mac OS X Leopard and is 64 bits and some hardware manufacturers now try to make your customers make the transition to 64-bit versions of Windows (Samsung says that its entire line of push towards 64-bit PC early 2009). And what could be expected from the computation of 128 bits, which represent the next big leap? Let’s take it easy, but do not be surprised that this change occurs around 2025.
Windows 7: it is inevitable
Whether you love Vista or hate it, the truth is that this OS will soon pass from this life. After the lukewarm reception Vista received, Microsoft is rushing to introduce his replacement, now known as Windows 7.
What is? Currently, Windows 7 seems to be the OS that Microsoft wanted to release as Vista, but lacked the time or resources to complete. Apart from ongoing refinements to the security system of the OS and its look and feel of your operating environment, Windows 7 may finally bring the highly anticipated WinFS file system that works like a database. Also expected compatibility and performance improvements over Vista.
But the primary goal of Windows 7 will probably be better online integration and more features of cloud computing, wait, therefore, further linking Microsoft OS with its growing Windows Live services. Prior to his retirement as president of Microsoft, Bill Gates suggested that the so-called pervasive desktop would be one of the goals of Windows 7, which would give users a way to carry all your data, desktop settings, bookmarks and stuff the style from one computer to another (if all those computers running Windows 7, as is presumed).
When will? Microsoft has set a target of January 2010 for Windows 7 and still no official date has been delayed. However, it is rumored that the first official beta version will come out before year end.
The first improvement to the USB in nearly a decade
The USB connector has been one of the biggest hits in the history of computing, with over 2,000 billion USB devices sold to date. But at a time when hard drives have terabytes of capacity, speed of 480 megabits per second that provides a USB 2.0 device is not enough.
What is? USB 3.0 (sometimes called “SuperSpeed USB”) promises to increase performance by a factor of 10, bringing the theoretical maximum speed of the connector 4, 8 gigabits per second, which would process almost the equivalent of a full CD-R each second. USB 3.0 devices will use a slightly different connector, but USB 3.0 will be compatible with current USB connectors and vice versa. USB 3.0 is also designed to improve the energy efficiency of USB devices, while increasing the available supply (about one amp, instead of 0, 1 amp in version 2.0). This means shorter load times for your iPod, USB devices and probably even more bizarre, like the toy rocket launchers and beverage coolers.
When will? The USB 3.0 specification is nearing completion and is expected to appear in commercial products by 2010. Meanwhile, a host of rival bus-DisplayPort, eSATA and HDMI-soon to be more common on PCs, driven largely by the rise of HD video. Even FireWire is considering an imminent improvement of up to 3, 2 gbps. The proliferation of ports might complicate the distribution of the ports on the rear panel of the new PC, but at least you have a lot of high-performance options for connecting peripherals.
The end of the graphics card autonomously
When AMD bought the graphics card manufacturer ATI, most observers assumed that the company would begin work on a fusion of the CPU with the GPU. This work is more advanced than you think.
What is? Although GPUs are hogging most of the attention, independent graphics cards are rare among computer owners, since 75 percent of laptop users are satisfied with the integrated graphics chip, according to Mercury Research. The reasons are the additional cost of a standalone graphics card, the complicated setup and battery drain. Putting graphics directly on the CPU is the