Fridge-sized DNA data storage can hold all the data in the world
The need for digital storage has been growing rapidly for years – and our data storage devices are becoming more and more powerful. But the previous system has its limits, a new technology is needed that allows virtual information to be packed even more densely. A look at nature has inspired scientists to develop DNA stores that work on the principle of genetic material: an unsurpassed clever system that can last for millions of years.
Four bases as building blocks for artificial storage media
The DNA of fossil animals that died several million years ago can still be read today if it is in good condition. From this, researchers can read various properties of the prehistoric beings, almost as if they had a digital memory in front of them. The four famous bases cytosine, guanine, thymine and adenine, which serve as the building blocks of DNA, can also be combined by human hands and thus used as an artificial storage medium. Microsoft Research has been trying it out for years, and in 2016 this Microsoft department succeeded in storing the first 200 Mbytes in a synthetically generated DNA. In 2019, the complete Wikipedia, with a size of 16 TByte at the time, found space on such a strand of genetic material.
Storage density of DNA at 1 exabyte per square inch
Now there is another lookup from Microsoft Research: The company announces that it has developed a new read and write system for DNA memories that enables extremely high storage density and is also inexpensive. The storage density automatically speeds up writing, which results in a significant acceleration. Microsoft Research specifies the maximum storage density of DNA as 1 exabyte per square inch, which is 1 trillion (10 to the power of 18) bytes per 6.45 square centimeters. By 2024, around 9 zettabytes (10 to the power of 21) of digital data will have accumulated worldwide: They would all fit in a DNA memory with a small refrigerator size – when the maximum density is reached.