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Microsoft, UW Pursue DNA-Based Data Storage Tech


DNA naturally stores the genetic code for living organisms, but will data storage someday be biologically based? Microsoft recently expanded its deal with synthetic biology company Twist Bioscience to buy 10 million strands of DNA, suggesting it might be possible. The deal will facilitate studies in collaboration with the University of Washington into data storage using biological molecules, rather than electromechanical devices, GeekWire reports.

The deal expands a purchase by Microsoft from San Francisco-based Twist of the same number of strands last year. Last summer, researchers at Microsoft and UW said they were able to store and retrieve 200 megabytes of DNA-encoded data with 100% accuracy.

DNA data storage takes advantage of a molecular code that uses four "letters," which are the amino acids that make up DNA. In theory, the resulting data storage could use a lot less space to store a lot more information than current electromechanical systems, including the most sophisticated data centers. In theory, 1 trillion megabytes could be stored in a single cubic inch of DNA solution.