DNA Storage in the Yottabyte Era-Healthcare Blog

DNA Storage in the Yottabyte Era-Healthcare Blog


Author: Kim Belard

Did you know that we live in the Zettabyte era? Honestly, do you even know what zettabyte is? Kilobytes, gigabytes, and possibly terabytes, of course, but zettabytes? Well, if you run a data center, you will know, and you will care, because the demand for data storage is soaring (all these TikTok videos and Netflix shows add up).Believe it or not, almost all of this data is still stored on tape, which is very useful for us Over the past sixty years But at some point, there will not be enough tapes or enough places to store them to meet data storage needs.

This is why people are so enthusiastic about DNA storage—including me.

According to records, a zettabyte is 600 million bytes. A kilobyte is 1000 bytes; a zettabyte is 10007. Between gigabytes and zettabytes, in powers of 1000, TB, PB, and EB appear; after zettabyte is yottabytes.As early as 2016, Cisco Announce We are in the Zettabyte era, and the global Internet traffic reaches 1.2 Zettabytes. Before the end of the decade, we will enter the Yottabyte era.

People have been working on DNA storage for many years; First wrote about it In 2016, when I speculated that this might mean that we can truly become our own medical records. We are not at the stage of actual DNA storage, we may not be there for many years, but it is hard to believe that we will not get there in the end. Unlike all the other record forms we propose, DNA can last almost indefinitely, and as long as there are intelligent species based on DNA, they will want to read it.

Most importantly, DNA can be stored a lot of data.As a professor at MIT Mark Buss, The doctor told NPR: “If you store the data in DNA, all the data in the world can be put into the coffee cup you drink in the morning.”

mind. blow.

The reason that prompted me to write this now is Announcement from Microsoft. Collaborate with researchers from the United States University of Washington Molecular Information Laboratory, Their paper Demonstrated a “proof of concept” molecular controller that allowed them to write “three orders of magnitude”—that is, 1,000 times—density into DNA. As the announcement said: “Ultimately, we can use this system to encode a piece of information on four strands of synthetic DNA, proving that it is possible to write nanoscale DNA in the dimensions required for actual DNA data storage.”

I won’t let readers know in detail what they did — I won’t pretend to understand — but the conclusion of the paper is:

We expect that this technology will further expand to billions of features per square centimeter, enabling the synthetic throughput to reach the level of megabytes per second in a single write module, competing with the write throughput of other storage devices… .. We foresee that these assemblers will be used in other fields, such as materials science, synthetic biology, diagnostics, and closed-loop large-scale molecular biology experimental analysis.

Similarly, the announcement concluded: “We expect this technology to reach arrays containing billions of electrodes, capable of storing megabytes of data per second in DNA. This will bring DNA data storage performance and cost closer to tape.”

You can bet that Microsoft is taking this seriously.


Lest anyone thinks that only Microsoft is doing this, there are several other promising developments in recent weeks. Interesting project Some of them are highlighted:

  • Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a microchip that can write DNA faster, which is expected to be 100 times faster than current technology. Principal Researcher Nicolas Guise Tell British Broadcasting Corporation In other words, because DNA can survive for so long, “the cost of ownership has dropped to almost zero.”
  • Scientists at Northwestern University demonstrated a new “enzymatic system” that can encode three bits of data per hour.this NU announcement Explains: “Our method is much cheaper to write information because you can directly manipulate the enzymes that synthesize DNA.” Researchers believe that this technology can be used to install “molecular recorders” in cells to act as biosensors; the possibilities are amazing. of.
  • A team at Southeast University in China used a new process to segment content in sequence, rather than a long chain, while “shrinking” the instruments used. Technology Radar Speculate May lead to the first mass-market DNA storage device.Professor Liu Hong Tell Global Times: “Now our goal is to combine electronic information technology with biology, which can be applied to data storage, virus nucleic acid detection and other aspects.”

Interesting project Probably missed the most interesting usage: Business Insider India report Roddenberry Entertainment created the NFT (non-fungible token) signed by Gene Roddenberry for the first time Star Trek Contract and store it on the DNA implanted in the bacteria-“the first ever ecological non-homogeneous token (NFT).” The bacteria is currently dormant, but if it is resurrected, it will replicate the NFT as it reproduces (this is the same as I think NFT is the opposite).

Somehow, I don’t think this is the DNA storage that Microsoft researchers want to accomplish, but hey, any Star Trek.

As Professor Bath Tell NPR, If the cost/efficiency issues are resolved-and they are progressing smoothly-“Then, you know, the sky is the limit in terms of storing everything we ever wanted and will ever need.”


DNA storage may never be fast enough or cheap enough to replace existing storage methods. There may be other new technologies that are better than DNA storage (for example, Holographic storage? ). But we are DNA-based organisms, and the possibility of using the technology built for us by nature to store and manipulate the data we generate is irresistible.

already have DNA-based “robots” with DNA-based computer So, to be honest, DNA storage doesn’t surprise me at all.we should expect Molecular DNA recorders…and try to predict what we do and don’t want them to be used.

At 21Yingshi In the century, biology is computing, and vice versa. DNA is not just our genetic history and future, but information that we can read and write. We call it “Synthetic biology“Now, but as the field develops and grows, we will forget the “synthesis” part, just as “digital health” becomes “health” (or “cryptocurrency” becomes “currency”).

Life in the Yottabyte era will be very interesting.

Kim was the former head of e-marketing of the main Blues project and the late editor Tincture, Is now a regular THCB contributor.

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