No getting around the fact that as so much of the workings of everyday life becomes more digital for all of us, there is an ever-increasing need for data storage. And try as they might those who make more storage available simply can’t keep pace with the growing demand. Innovation is always the requirement in any situation like this, and it appears that is exactly what’s happened. Everybody will know what DNA is, and how it is the genetic sequence that allows us to become who we are right from the moment we’re conceived.
So most people would struggle to connect the dots in as far as how DNA could be implemented as a means of better data storage, but it appears that’s exactly what’s happening. And it is definitely meeting a need as for many in the space the option of doing away with old data to make space for new data isn’t something they are willing or able to do based on the nature of what they’re making / offering. Estimates are that in just 7+ years from now there will be 7.8 million petabyte deficit between the supply of data storage available and the then-current demand that will be expected for it.
Here at 4GoodHosting we are like any other reliable Canadian web hosting service provider in that we find this stuff very interesting as data storage is very much front and center for all of us too and we can absolutely get how integral it is for some organizations and their operations. We wouldn’t be able to make the connection between genome sequencing and the strands of DNA with data storage, but we have now and that’s what we’ll share with you today with this entry.
Microsoft Leading the Way
The key in all of this is going to be reading and writing data faster, and Microsoft has been leading the way in developing a new method for writing synthetic DNA with a chip that is 1000 times faster so that the higher write throughput works out to lower costs. Which in turn will allow companies to be able to afford to buy / build the additional data storage they’re going to need anyways.
The data dilemma is this. As the volume of data produced by internet activity, digital devices and IoT sensors continues to expand with speed, the problem becomes a question of where to put it all. It’s true that hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid state drives (SSDs) do well with holding and supplying the quantities of data that servers and client devices need to function. But neither of them are really practical for storing vast quantities of information and for long periods of time.
For archival storage Linear Tape-Open (LTO) magnetic tape is best, boasting the lowest cost per capacity of any technology. The current generation of tape, LTO-9, has a native capacity of 18TB and at about $8.30 per terabyte it is affordable. Investing in it is key, especially as the alternative – as mentioned – is to delete older data. That’s just not a realistic option, especially for any organization working AI where products are typically informed by large and very exhaustive pools of data.
The only big drawback to LTO tape is that data can only be accessed serially. This makes it hard to locate specific files, and often creates the need to migrate to fresh tape to avoid data loss. Not something that has to be done regularly, but it does need to be done and it can be time consuming.
DNA – As Storage
The four molecular building blocks of DNA: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T) can be utilized as an extremely dense and durable form of data storage. What it does is convert binary 1s and 0s into the four-lettered genetic alphabet, with just one gram of DNA being capable of storing 215 PB (220,000 TB) of data. Experts say this will work out to ultra-high density, acceptable cost, and much more in the way of sustainable operations.
As of now though the technology remains unusable at scale, and that’s because of the time it takes to write data to DNA and other challenges that are different in nature. Future datacenters will need everything the SSD, HDD, and tape industries are capable of, with what DNA and optical and perhaps other enterprise storage technologies offer being put in place to supplement them.
Who knows, eventually this is something that becomes commonplace in the web hosting industry here in Canada, and that’s not a far-fetched idea considering how the data storage needs for those like us are also increasing fairly exponentially over recent years and it’s likely that trend will continue.