Twist Bioscience, a company accelerating science and innovation through rapid, high-quality DNA synthesis, today announced Microsoft Corp. will purchase ten million strands of DNA from Twist Bioscience for expanded digital data storage research.
(Twist Bioscience on DNA, the next silicon)
“Importantly, not only does DNA provide a high density, very long-term solution to digital data storage, it requires very little energy at rest compared to today’s storage technologies,” commented Luis Ceze, Ph.D., the University of Washington’s Torode Family Career Development Professor of computer science and engineering, and also one of the project’s lead researchers. In addition, DNA will never become obsolete as an information storage medium, since we will always care about reading DNA. No more migration from disk to tape to denser tape.”
The quantity of digital data continues to outpace our ability to store it, approximately doubling every two years. There is a drastic need for a new storage medium that effectively and securely stores data. The recent convergence of affordable DNA sequencing and the scalability of Twist Bioscience’s silicon-based DNA synthesis technique presents a new opportunity enabling the DNA to become a viable data storage option. Using DNA as an archival technology avoids two key limitations of traditional digital storage media: limited lifespan and low data density. DNA data storage could last up to 2,000 years without deterioration, according to a recent presentation at the American Chemical Society. In addition, a recent study by Columbia University and New York Genome Center, using Twist Bioscience DNA, showed a few grams of DNA can store an exabyte of digital data. With higher density storage, it may be possible to store one trillion gigabytes (a zettabyte) of digital data with just a few grams of DNA.
The first time I read about this idea was in an excellent series of fantasy novels by Barbara Hambly. In her 1982 Darwath trilogy, she writes about how wizards of several thousand years ago succeeded in tying information to the DNA of selected individuals. See the Heritable Memories Bloodline from The Time of the Dark (1982) by Barbara Hambly.