Monday, November 05, 2012

Memristor debate: "If it works who cares?"

I have made various public arguments over the past year about why Leon Chua and HP's "memristor" models are all hype rather than a legitimate scientific model for resistance switching (e.g. The Register, EETimes, New ScientistWired).  The response from Martin Reynolds, an electrical engineering analyst from Gartner, is that " doesn't matter how it works..". Recently Dr. Paul Meuffels also pointed out flaws in the memristor model and has commented to Chris Mellor of The Register that

  "We have shown by means of a thorough analysis in terms of electrochemistry that HP’s “memristor” model is misleading. Our arguments are based upon textbook electrochemistry and can be easily reproduced. There are no real devices which would operate in accordance with HP’s model because the model is by itself in conflict with fundamentals of electrochemistry. There seems to be no way out; otherwise, somebody would have tried to refute our argumentation in the meantime. Thus, HP’s memristor research group does not have found a realistic physical model for a working memristive device."

Violin Memory CTO Jon Bennet offered the response "If it works who cares?"

Now imagine if Violin Memory tried to manufacture flash memory arrays using incorrect models of transistors. Somehow I don't think that would work out too well for product development. In engineering good models are required to manufacture reliable products. The fact that Bennet (and others) do not fully grasp this point is illustrative of either their incompetence or an inability to grasp what the "memristor" argument is really about.

In response to my comments Chris Mellor created a topic on The Register Forum asking the question "Is HP delusional over its memristor technology and IP?" (link).