DNA Data Storage Gets Random Access
Researchers have devised a system to recover targeted files from 200 megabytes of data encoded in DNA
DNA data storage just got bigger and better. Scientists have reported the first random-access storage system from which they can recover individual data files, error free, from over 200 megabytes of digital information encoded into DNA.
Random access is key for a practical DNA-based memory, but until now, researchers have been able to achieve it with only up to 0.15 megabytes of data.
Since submitting their research, published in Nature Biotechnology, the team from Microsoft Research and the University of Washington has already improved on what they reported. Their storage system now offers random access across 400 megabytes of data encoded in DNA with no bit errors, says Microsoft Research’s Karin Strauss, who led the new work with Luis Ceze from the University of Washington.
Microsoft and other tech companies are seriously considering the possibility of archiving data in DNA. Current data storage technologies are not keeping up with the breakneck pace at which we generate digital content, Strauss says. Synthetic DNA is an attractive storage medium because it can, in theory, store 10 million times as much data as magnetic tape in the same volume, and it survives for thousands of years. Technology Review reports that Microsoft Research aims to have an operational DNA-based storage system working inside a data center toward the end of this decade.