Firms partner with Microsoft to advance DNA data storage

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

November 13, 2020 -- Twist Bioscience, Illumina, and Western Digital have formed an alliance with Microsoft to advance the field of DNA data storage.

The companies are joining the DNA Data Storage Alliance as founding members. Together, they will create a comprehensive industry roadmap that will achieve interoperability and establish cost-effective commercial archival storage ecosystems. The alliance also plans to develop use cases in various markets and industries as well as to promote DNA storage and to educate the larger storage community on the adoption of this future solution.

The firms estimate that in the coming years many digital businesses will have to switch to new data storage solutions.

DNA data storage can potentially be a long-term storage technology. DNA provides a stable format medium that is durable for thousands of years when properly stored. Additionally, DNA enables cost-effective and rapid duplication. It is dense, with 10 full length digital movies fitting into a volume the size of a single grain of salt, according to the firms. Digital data can be stored on DNA capsules or pellets or encased in glass beads.

Microsoft has collaborated with the University of Washington to develop a fully automated end-to-end system that is capable of storing and retrieving data from DNA.

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