Now We Know Why Apple Bought A Chipmaker

Electronics’ ‘missing link’ found

Memristors were first proposed in 1971 by Professor Leon Chua, a scientist at the University of California, Berkeley.

They are the “fourth” basic building block of circuits, after capacitors, resistors and inductors.

“I never thought I’d live long enough to see this happen,” Professor Chua told the Associated Press.

“I’m thrilled because it’s almost like vindication. Something I did is not just in my imagination, it’s fundamental.”

The memristors are so called because they have the ability to “remember” the amount of charge that has flowed through them after the power has been switched off.

This could allow researchers to build new kinds of computer memory that would would not require powering up.

Emphasis added by me.

Pay attention to this:

But a computer built with memristors could allow PCs that start up instantly, laptops that retain sessions after the battery dies, or mobile phones that can last for weeks without needing a charge.

“If you turn on your computer it will come up instantly where it was when you turned it off,” Professor Williams told Reuters.

“That is a very interesting potential application, and one that is very realistic.”

Emphasis added by me.

Here is the key bit:

However, according to some, it may be some time before the device is widely used.

“Even to consider an alternative to the transistor is anathema to many device engineers, and the memristor concept will have a steep slope to climb towards acceptance,” wrote Drs James Tour and Tao Heare of Rice University, Houston, in an accompanying article in Nature.

They said that some in the electronics industry would only accept the use of memristors “after the demonstration of a well-functioning, large-scale array of these densely packed devices”.

“When that happens, the race towards smaller devices will proceed at full steam.”

Emphasis added by me.

So there are the Bright People of Apple.

They look around the industry and see how everyone is able to — put it mildly — clone what they do.

Software only provides a brief edge, a narrow buffer from the competition.

Hardware has basically become the same set of commodity components that everyone else uses. So that doesn’t provide any edge at all.

But Apple’s Bright People are the brightest of the bright. They know how to look beyond what everyone else accepts.

And so they find out about this research well before it makes its way into the popular press and they convince Steve Jobs that this is the hardware edge Apple has been seeking. They show him all the evidence that proves no one will touch this until someone points the way.

And by that time, the hardware edge they’ll have is at least two-to-five years ahead of everyone else.

For the doubters out there: Apple co-created the PowerPC chip. These are specialists.

Expect memristors in an upcoming Apple device.

And it will be the first device to have it!

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9 Comments on “Now We Know Why Apple Bought A Chipmaker”

  1. AdamC Says:

    Mike you are incredible, i hope it will come true, better computing experience for all, eh, macs and iPhones users.

  2. ipv5 Says:

    It would surely be great, but do we have any evidence apple is studying such an application?

  3. mikecane Says:

    >>>do we have any evidence

    Wait and see. Do you expect leaked pictures of chips?

    No, the future is clear and Apple sees it: Software can be imitated too easily. Hardware is the thing that gives the competitive edge. Don’t you recall all the thumpings Jobs used to demonstrate of PhotoShop on PowerPC vs Intel’s CPUs?


  4. “Do you expect leaked pictures of chips?”

    Yes. Yes I do.

  5. Simon Says:

    “No, the future is clear and Apple sees it: Software can be imitated too easily. Hardware is the thing that gives the competitive edge. Don’t you recall all the thumpings Jobs used to demonstrate of PhotoShop on PowerPC vs Intel’s CPUs?”

    Do you remember a few years later, when Apple came out and was all like “Oops, turns out Intel is better after all.” So much for being chip specialists.


  6. [...] Now We Know Why Apple Bought A Chipmaker – It’s an interesting article in that it ties Apple to the consumer’s desire for the “Instant On” function we are trained to by most of our electronic devices. Especially the content providing ones like our TV’s, Radios, iPods, TIVO’s, etc. [...]

  7. mikecane Says:

    @ Mister Snitch!: Hey, they just bought the firm last week. Give it time. You’ll hear rumors before you ever see any pictures. Really, what do YOU think Apple will do with that company? Feel free to speculate too!

    @ Simon: That decision had more to do with IBM not being able to produce the chips fast enough. See:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powerpc

  8. Ross Says:

    What is wrong with you? This device was made at HP labs. Apple had nothing to do with it. Your thought that apple will have it first is just speculation.

  9. mikecane Says:

    Apple didn’t invent the mouse or the graphics user interface, either. They just made them popular. And if this is such a whizbang hp invention, why the hell haven’t *they* been using it so far?


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