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Microsoft’s futuristic storage solution can hold 1,000,000,000 TB

Published Apr 28th, 2016 2:01PM EDT
Microsoft Twist DNA Storage

Bickering about the paltry amount of storage on the cheapest new iPhone might become a thing of the past… at some point in the distant future. Microsoft is currently experimenting with DNA material for the purpose of holding massive amounts of data. How massive? Try a billion terabytes, or a zettabyte. The best part about it is that the whole DNA storage receptacle would weigh just 1 gram.

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That said, the research is not done, and we shouldn’t expect DNA data drives in computers anytime soon. But the DNA material is very dense and very robust, making it an ideal candidate for storing data in addition to biological information.

Microsoft is partnering up with Twist Bioscience, Ars Technica reports, a company that performs the reading and writing of the data that’s stored in these special data arrays. Twist hopes to make DNA storage even cheaper than it currently is: A custom DNA sequence costs 10 cents per base, but the company wants to drive the price down to 2 cents.

DNA sequencing isn’t as elaborate a process as it used to be. Ars reminds us that the human genome project cost $3 billion, running from 1990 to 2003. The same research can be done now for around $1,000.

It’s not clear at this time where Microsoft would use such storage, but it’s not likely that your phone will get a billion terabytes of storage anytime soon. Similarly, it’s not yet clear whether the data can be modified once written. Regular HDDs and SSDs can obviously be rewritten many times during their lifetime.

Speaking of usage time, DNA drives would last for hundreds of years, likely outlasting even the best SSDs; that’s how good this particular storage material is.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.