CATALOG, one of the most prominent pioneers in DNA storage and computing, has announced a new strategic partnership with one of the world’s largest storage companies, Seagate.
The potential of DNA is tempting. A single gram of DNA can store 215 PB of data, which is equivalent to approximately 10,000 22 TB hard drives, the highest capacity currently available.
The collaboration will increase the production of smaller DNA platforms, up to 1000 times smaller, paving the way for the likely mass production of DNA-based storage products within the next decade; desktop and even IoT-sized form factors are being explored. At the heart of this initiative is Seagate’s recently unveiled ‘lab on a chip’ technology, which aims to reduce the complexity of operational DNA platforms.
“Using the Seagate platform, tiny droplets of synthetic DNA can test chemistry at significantly smaller levels. These droplets are processed by dozens of reservoirs on the Seagate platform. DNA from individual reservoirs is mixed to produce chemical reactions for a range of computing functions, including search and analysis, machine learning and process optimization,” a company spokesperson said.
Room to shrink
Shannon, the current CATALOG platform, is big, very big. Think of the size of an average family kitchen. Like the Colossus computer, the first programmable digital computer used in World War II, Shannon is more of a proof-of-concept used to demonstrate the extraordinary potential of DNA storage and computation.
The first commercial offering, likely to be delivered “as a service”, will last about a year. Additional details on pricing and performance, we’re told, will be available by then. optical discs, hard drives or LTO tapes for archiving. In this scenario, data could be uploaded to a CATALOG system and the company would convert the data into synthetic DNA.
The problem that CATALOG is now tackling is that the current prototype proved the potential of an automated and scalable system to convert data into DNA. However, today’s technology requires chemistry skills that most companies do not have today. As CATALOG systems mature, these processes will become more automated and the need for chemistry skills will be minimized.
CATALOG added that “The goals for the next-generation platform are to use significantly smaller amounts of chemicals, require less energy, and operate almost anywhere – including in offices, on ships in the mid-ocean and potentially in space .”
Many companies, including Microsoft, have invested heavily in DNA storage, while sharpening their deployments with other exotic storage technologies (eg, holographic, optical, glass). Due to its inherent resilience and resistance to external factors, DNA storage is likely to be used in cold storage (for cloud backup or cloud storage), as a data loss protection tool to combat ransomware via air-gapping, and as a regulatory compliance mechanism. (eg Sarbanes-Oxley or HIPAA) via the WORM (Write Once, Read Many) function.