July 21st, 2015
A crashing computer is at best annoying and at worst catastrophic. But now a team of scientists has developed a new type of computer that never crashes—and it relies on chaos and randomness to achieve the feat.
New Scientist reports that the new “systemic” computer, designed and built at University College London, is fundamentally different to the computers we all currently use. The computers of today crunch lists: dragging operations from memory, working on them, and then storing the result back in memory, before moving on to the next. A computational core never really multitasks—it just seems like it does.
Each system has a memory containing context-sensitive data that means it can only interact with other, similar systems. Rather than using a program counter, the systems are executed at times chosen by a pseudorandom number generator, designed to mimic nature’s randomness. The systems carry out their instructions simultaneously, with no one system taking precedence over the others…
Crucially, the systemic computer contains multiple copies of its instructions distributed across its many systems, so if one system becomes corrupted the computer can access another clean copy to repair its own code. And unlike conventional operating systems that crash when they can’t access a bit of memory, the systemic computer carries on regardless because each individual system carries its own memory.
The result? A computer that never fails because it repairs corrupted data on the fly. Just don’t expect it on your desktop any time soon. [via New Scientist]