A future of computing where an infinite amount of computing capacity is easily accessed via lightweight display devices that can be bent into almost any shape is closer than you might think.
Speaking at a Global Influencers Summit 2012 event in Shanghai today, John Apostolopoulis, director of mobile and immersive experience for HP Labs, outlined a future computing environment that uses advances in memristor storage technologies to provide access to massive amounts of low-cost memory and storage capabilities. These capabilities would be accessed using a touchscreen made from plastic displays that were created using self-aligned imprint lithography (SAIL) technology.
Recently discovered by HP, Apostolopoulis says memristors are an instance of a fourth fundamental circuit element that was theoretically known to exist for the past 40 years. HP a few years ago discovered memristors and now plans to bring the first products to market built using that technology in the 2014-2015 timeframe. Memristor memory could easily be more than 10 times faster than conventional DRAM technology while requiring less than 10 percent power.
That capability will be critical, says Apostolopoulis, in the context of next-generation display technologies that will use SAIL technologies emanating from the research and development in plastics to replace glass. Because memristors require so much less power, they can be deployed not only in the data center, but also directly incorporated into next-generation plastic devices. The end result, says Apostolopoulis, is a new generation of mobile computing devices that will be bent into almost any shape while dynamically invoking compute resources in the cloud.
HP then plans to couple that with augmented reality engine technology the company gained with its recent acquisition of Autonomy to ultimately converge virtual computing and physical reality in a way that would allow, for example, construction companies to stress test a bride design for earthquakes before it was actually ever built.
What HP is really driving at is that we're on the cusp of new era in IT innovation that goes well beyond anything most people associate with mobile and cloud computing today. In fact, in as little as five years, we may look back at the current state of IT and marvel over just how limited our understanding of what the art of the IT was and is likely to be for the foreseeable future.