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Microsoft Has a Plan to Add Dna Data to its Cloud


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A representation of DNA data storage.

Microsoft Research plans to have a DNA-based data storage system functioning within a data center by 2020, and to eventually replace tape drives with DNA data storage.

Credit: TwistBioscience.com

Microsoft Research has formalized plans to have a DNA-based data storage system functioning within a data center by 2020, while also planning to eventually replace tape drives with DNA data storage, says Microsoft's Doug Carmean.

Last July, Microsoft announced its record-setting storage of 200 MB of data in DNA strands.

Challenges to achieving DNA data storage include cost, which Microsoft says must fall 10,000 times to ensure wide adoption. Also essential is automating the process of writing data into DNA, whose rate must accelerate to 100 Mbps from 400 bytes a second.

The Semiconductor Research Corp.'s Victor Zhirnov says such innovations aim to circumvent the physical limits of making computer memory ever denser. "The problem we are solving is the exponential growth of stored information," Zhirnov notes, pointing to a cubic millimeter of DNA's quintillion-byte storage capacity.

Startups are pursuing related DNA production advances that could benefit Microsoft, such as an enzyme-based generation method.

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