DNA: The New Storage Standard?

Running out of data storage? Microsoft is looking at biological resources to replace traditional enterprise data centers.


I’m not going to pretend I understand this one, but Microsoft just bought 10 million strands of synthetic DNA because the company believes that DNA is the next-generation high-capacity data storage option. As demand for data storage is growing—International Data Corp., predicts data will reach 16 trillion gigabytes by next year—there’s a need for alternative, cost-effective storage systems. DNA is extremely dense and capable of storing 1,000,000,000 TB per gram.

According to an article in Futurism.com, Microsoft has said it can successfully pack 200 MB of data into DNA at once. And, while the current process is costly and delicate, the company believes that advancements in the biotech industry will drive down costs and create an easier process, making DNA an eligible replacement to current magnetic tape storage.

“The company is interested in learning whether we can create an end-to-end system that can store information, that’s automated, and can be used for enterprise storage, based on DNA,” said Karin Strauss, Microsoft’s lead researcher on the project. She also noted in the article that a shoebox of DNA could hold the 16 trillion gigabytes of data easily.

Sounds encouraging. But, again, I don’t really understand.

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