Alen J

The new generation Data Storage with DNA

After hearing the term Data Storage, one can only think of CD or DVD, HDD and flash drives. But this perception is about to change totally within few years. Microsoft in collaboration with University of Washington has been experimenting with synthetic DNA for digital data storage. The joint research group has recently published a paper describing the architecture of entire DNA based archival data storage system.

So what is a DNA storage system? A DNA storage system is a very complex process which consists of a DNA synthesizer whose function is to encrypt the data to be stored in DNA, a storage canister with compartments which store pools of DNA that maps to a volume and a DNA sequencer that reads DNA sequences and converts them back to binary data. The basic unit of DNA storage is a DNA strand which is made up of 100-200 nucleotides and it is capable of 50-100 bits of data. This implies that a typical data object can be mapped to a large number of DNA strands. Key-value architecture is being used by researchers in order to develop DNA storage where at first the key is related to a pool containing the required strand, then by the help of a Random Access mechanism the strand can be accessed inside the pool. Data representation is another important aspect of DNA storage. As DNA is comprised of 4 bases, the easiest way is to represent the binary data in base 4 in CTAC sequence. But for more efficiency researchers have chosen base-3 representation which is mapped to CTCTG DNA sequence. Te DNA storage has two major advantages over traditional data storage: longer lifespan of data (about 2000 years) and high data density. There are still lots of research left to be done before launching it commercially.