Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fun Fact: New DNA Storage Devices – Smallest, most compact means to store data

Researchers at Harvard have successfully stored 5.5 petabits of data, which is around 700 terabytes, onto a single gram of bioengineered DNA. This is 1000 times more dense than the previous DNA storage record. In comparison, it would take 14,000 Blue-ray DVDs at 50 GB each, or 233 disk drives at 3TB to store the same amount of information, with the latter weighing 151 kilograms (compared to only 1 gram of DNA).

The basic principle is that a binary code can be mimicked in DNA by making T and G = 1, and A and C = 0. Strands of DNA are created that contain 96 bits of information. The DNA strands are then read via sequencing, using a 19-bit address block to mark the start of that code. This method allows for everything to be quickly sequenced out of order and then to be sorted using the address blocks. Though this is not the fastest method for data storage, due to the limitation of DNA sequencing, it is still fast enough to provide a long term storage device for massive amounts of data. The reason most data, such as video monitoring, is deleted after a certain amount of time is because of data storage limitations. With this new method of storage, volumes of data can be stored in only grams of DNA.

For more information about this finding, see:

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