At the HP Discover conference, HP announced 'The Machine', an ambitious new computer running on a custom Linux distro made by HP.
The Machine mashes up many different emerging computing ideas together, memristor, making it the world's first silicon photonic and memristor computer. The Machine will use "electrons for processing, photons for communication, and ions for storage." Ions will be used in the memristors, electrons will be used as they are used today in the processor, and the photons will be used for optical interconnects for faster data transfers. It sounds very ambitious, containing not one but three risky new components, the third being their new operating system.
In order to take advantage of this vast amount of dense, fast, persistent storage, HP announced that they will be making an open source Linux distro alongside their new computer, after thanking Microsoft for sponsoring their conference.
Although of this sounds great, many different memory technologies have been announced that sound revolutionary on paper but have not survived general use or cost effectiveness, with DRAM and NAND still remaining the kings of memory.
HP plans to have finished the memristor DIMMs by 2016, preparing for a launch by the end of the decade, with earliest launch estimates at 2017. Price details were of course not announced. Although, I may note that this project is not on HP's official timeline, and is a HP Labs project, which may mean we may not see this machine sold to the general public, or it may be scrapped early in research.
The Machine and the Discover conference come after declining profit at HP, which they blame in part on Microsoft and it's risky bet, Windows 8.