DNA storage improvements finally makes the futuristic bio-tech viable

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As file sizes for artificial intelligence and movies continue to balloon, alternative storage methods need to be cooked up. For Microsoft, the next generation of storage technology rests with DNA storage chips.

The American tech giant revealed in a blog post that the massively increasing demand for data storage requires new technology. With data storage demands expected to reach “almost 9 zettabytes by 2024”, DNA could be the first step forward.

Microsoft makes massive advances towards DNA storage

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Microsoft’s plans to create consumer data storage devices based on synthetic DNA. Researchers Bichlien Nguyen and Karin Strauss revealed that they have created a new method for writing data to DNA that's 1000x faster than before.

Faster data writing is an integral part to making this form of storage viable. At the moment, one of the biggest issues with the bio-tech is that slow writing speeds makes the technology too expensive to use. In comparison, current SSD storage is blazingly fast, but too expensive to use for massive amounts of data.

Microsoft is just one company that will benefit from the realisation of DNA data storage. As companies move ever-further towards cloud technology, the colossal data centres that powers them need fast, reliable storage options.

In the blog post, it’s stated that DNA storage is incredibly reliable. While long-lasting tape storage can last around 30 years, DNA can last for thousands of years. Additionally, it's theorised that the technology will become obsolete far slower than rival technologies.

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The tech must be as affordable as tape storage

In an interview with TechRadar, a Microsoft spokesperson revealed that this is the next step towards reaching the “holy grail” of storage. In the interview, the spokesperson discussed the tech's advancements.

They said:

"A natural next step is to embed digital logic in the chip to allow individual control of millions of electrode spots to write kilobytes per second of data in DNA, and we foresee the technology reaching arrays containing billions of electrodes capable of storing megabytes per second of data in DNA. This will bring DNA data storage performance and cost significantly closer to tape.“

Even if the technology becomes viable for business in the next decade or so, it likely won't enter the consumer market for much longer. With the large energy costs of using the tech, it needs to be further refined for home use.