DNA Data Storage - Is It Ready For The Big Time?

DNA data storage servers

Posted on Thursday, July 19, 2018

We have been following the progress of DNA as a potential storage medium for a few years now. Back in 2016 we wrote about Microsoft’s early experiments, and the fact that reading and writing data was too slow for real world scenarios.

A year later we covered the “DNA Fountain”, an alternative DNA storage project that had successfully encoded several file types, including a film clip. Expensive and unwieldy, the DNA Fountain did demonstrate the storage potential of DNA.

The future is almost here

Although successful on a small scale, these projects seem to indicate that it would be some time before we saw DNA storage ready for use in a production environment. And yet news broke this week that storage start-up Catalog is ready to launch a commercial service by next year.

Initial reports from New Scientist magazine suggest that service users will be able to store a terabyte of data in a single DNA pellet. Catalog claim that their technique is also relatively cheap, helping to keep charges low for customers.

A different approach

Microsoft’s experiments encode one bit of data per pair of DNA molecules. Catalog has developed another way, building multidimensional matrices within each pair, and allowing them to arrange bits within the matrices.

And where Microsoft build custom DNA strings at great expense, Catalog rely on large quantities of cheap, mass-produced molecules that are rearranged according to the data being encoded.

Whether this approach pays off remains to be seen. The novelty of new services is always exciting, but how many businesses will entrust their data to a bleeding edge technology? Whatever happens, with several different approaches under development it looks like DNA data storage could become reality. Soon.

In the meantime, why not give us a call to discuss how you could realize greater returns from your existing storage assets. You can contact us here.

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