The world may be inching closer to the launch of the first commercially viable solution that can use DNA to store data.
Catalog, which bills itself as the world’s first DNA-based platform for massive digital data storage, has recently raised $10 million in funding. It has used this to bring onboard the man who led the commercialization of the IBM Deep Blue supercomputer, which earned a place in popular tech folklore after defeating the then-world Champion Garry Kasparov in 1997.
The company’s new device, named Shannon, managed to store the full English text version of Wikipedia – 16GB in all – on man-made DNA molecules.
The end goal of such a process would be to produce a storage medium that has a shelf life measured in hundreds of years, and the ability to store over one million GB of data in a device the size of a sugar cube (10mm x 10mm x 10mm).
That’s equivalent to a data density of one Exabyte per cubic centimeter, several orders of magnitude better than even the densest commercial media at the moment (likely to be 1TB microSD cards).
Right now though the biggest barriers to mass adoption are size (Shannon is the size of a family kitchen), price (unknown at the time of writing but likely to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars) and writing speed (a pedestrian 10Mbps).
Catalog says that its technology can store up to 1.6Tb (200GB) of compressed data in one single run but doesn’t say what the compression ratio is. 10Mbps is 1.25MBps and writing 1TB would take 800,000 seconds or nearly 10 days.