Researchers Cram 700 Terabytes Of Data Into One Gram Of DNA

We've known DNA could be a viable solution for data storage for a while now, but Harvard researchers have just discovered how wildly efficient it could really be by fitting 5.5 petabits, or 700 terabytes, of data into just one gram of DNA.

The whole process is pretty simple, in theory at least. You just take your four bases, TGAC, and consider T and G to be ones, while A and C are zeros. Then you encode your data, putting a 19-bit address at the front of each strand. That way, even if the strands are all jumbled together, you can get them in order once you've read them. This graphic from ExtremeTech sums up the process quite well.

By fitting a whopping 700 terabytes into a single gram, Harvard's George Church and Sri Kosuri have shattered previous records. For persepective that's over 600 million floppies or around 14,000 Blu-rays. That's enough room to store about a million movies (by my shoddy calculation) though Church and Kosuri used it to store 70 billion copies of Church's most recent book.

There are, of course, caveats. First, DNA sequencing hardware isn't exactly something everybody's got just laying around. And second, retrieving all that data isn't exactly fast; the very latest tech will still take hours to sort this data out. Still, this isn't something you'd use for day-to-day storage. Instead, it looks like it'd be best for archiving. Just think about that for a second, soon we may be documenting our species' many triumphs in the very same material that defines who we are. Sort of poetic isn't it? Poetic and awesome. [Harvard via ExtremeTech]


Comments

    Amazing, yet freaky at the same time.

    Cool, but seems a bit of a waste to just keep it 1s and 0s. 4 Different states are available.

      I agree, what makes DNA so potent for the storage of data is its ATCG sequencing

    This is awesome. Now I can claim all the extra weight around my gut is just preparing for the day when I use my body as a gigantic hard drive.

    iGut. Eat different.

      http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger2/2959/646955601698729/1600/iFat.jpg

    How big is 1 gram of DNA? Could be 1 cubic metre for all I know. Lot of the numbers on this site are like today tonight or cc 10x the reality, I just can't trust you guys any more, so many infomercials.

      I don't know about you but 1g seems pretty objective when trying to quantify its mass to me. If you want detailed information like number of kilobases or density, follow the link provided.

    You mean to tell me, that were on the verge of building an animus??!?!?!?!? MOther of god!

    I agree, it's a perfectly poetic way for humanity to store its triumphs and victories.
    But it also makes you wonder if anyone or anything else has thought to store valuable information in DNA as a legacy either. I don't subscribe to them, but it gives the people who believe in intelligent extra-terrestrials seeding earth with intelligent life a little more to argue with.

      A bigger question is, what memories may already be stored in our blood (Genetic Memory)

    So in 2012, 700TB of data actually looks like 1g of jizz?
    How very mamalian of us.

    Damn.... out of space..... ah well, another prick on the finger it is........ ouch!

    On another note, it could give a whole new meaning to putting blood, sweat and tears into building a Data Centre.

    PirateDNA tracker ftw

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