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How Synthetic DNA can Store Thousands of GBs – The Future of the HDD

Researchers of Columbia University and the New York Genome Centre have proposed an alternative solution for providing large capacity information storage. According to a study that was published in the Science Journal, they have managed to pack digital files into extremely minute amounts of DNA.

Scientists have successfully stored 214 petabytes of data into DNA, which amounts to 214 thousand gigabytes. The data contained six files: an old French film called The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station, a 1948 scientific research paper, a computer operating system, a 50$ Amazon gift card, a computer virus, and a photo.

The study has reported that the researchers have recovered their data files from the DNA with zero errors. Radio Sputnik have spoken to Dr Yaniv Erlich, assistant professor of computer science at Columbia University.

Erlich said that “We generate more and more data about ourselves and there is a growing demand to have better storage devices. We are seeing a kind of slowdown in the rate of innovation in the field of traditional, regular, storage in the magnetic media”

He further told that it is getting harder to get such devices smaller, whereas DNA is a very compact molecule and it can hold vast amount of information.

“Such is the evolution’s choice, and it has allowed for the most important information that is basically the blueprint of our life. Therefore we showed that we can put this information on DNA, optimize, and get very close to the optimal configuration of data on DNA and extract this information without any error,” the professor said.

According to the professor, large data centres such as Amazon, Google, or IBM want to keep the information for a longer period of time and benefit from small size of this molecule and have it in their data centres.

Erlich have said by addressing the future of this technology, that at present, it is still quite expensive, hence it can’t yet compete with the hard disk drive, but as was seen previously in other types of biological applications, it may be possible to achieve similar cost-cutting results in this case, too.

“What we envision here is that if we can do the same thing for DNA synthesis that is something that, say from now till 20 years, can be really competing technology to regular and magnetic media,” Erlich has said.

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