10 October 2017
Software giant Microsoft has announced that they want to start storing data in DNA strands within the next few years. Microsoft Research computer architects stated that the DNA-based storage device will become commercially available in the next three years.
Doug Carmean, a partner architect at Microsoft Research, said the company hopes to create a "proto-commercial system in three years storing some amount of data on DNA in one of our data centers, for at least a boutique application."
Carmean described the device would be the size of a large, 1970s-era Xerox copier with a data write speed of only 400MBps. He stated that the company needs to increase the speed to 100MBps to compete with other archive storage mediums such as magnetic tape drives.
"While strings of nucleic acid have been used to cram information into living cells for billions of years, its role in IT data storage was demonstrated for the first time just five years ago, when a Harvard University geneticist encoded his book -- including jpg data for illustrations -- in just under 55,000 strands of DNA," the report said.
"This process would have cost around $800,000 using materials on the open market, meaning it would need to be thousands of times cheaper to make it a competitive option," the report stated.
Microsoft had unveiled its research into DNA as an archival storage medium last year; and described that the technology would help store a huge amount of data in "a big data center compressed into a few sugar cubes. Or all the publicly accessible data on the Internet slipped into a shoebox”.
"That is the promise of DNA storage -- once scientists are able to scale the technology and overcome a series of technical hurdles," the company said in a 2016 blog post.