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Microsoft experiments with DNA storage

Microsoft is being widely reported as experimenting with DNA storage. It’s bought ten million strands of DNA from Twist Bioscience and will be looking into the use of genetic science for storing whole terabytes in microscopic areas.

We say terabytes; according to the publicity we’re talking about a single gram of matter storing one billion terabytes of information, known as one zetabyte. Zetabytes are so rare that out spell checker is underlining the word in red – if the technology succeeds it’s a word that’s likely to become more widely known.

DNA has already been used in some limited environments for binary data but the scale of this is boggling. It’s perhaps ironic that such tiny objects could be instrumental in “Big Data”; earlier this week New Statesman Tech reported on the ecology of data centres and if the demand for physical storage space could be reduced there would at least be some impact.

We’d try to review an early unit when available but we’re pretty certain our acting editor would lose it.