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Microsoft is using synthetic DNA to store data

Engadget Engadget 29/04/2016 Mariella Moon
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Microsoft's data might be intact for thousands of years to come, now that it's looking into DNA storage as an option. The company has purchased 10-million-long oligonucleotides (DNA or RNA molecules) from San Francisco startup Twist Bioscience. According to IEEE, Redmond converted a chunk of data into DNA nucleotides -- G's, A's, C's and T's -- and had Twist make 10 million synthetic DNA strands with the sequences it specified. The startup doesn't actually have access to the data, since it doesn't have the key, and the only way to decode it is through DNA sequencing.

Microsoft partner architect Doug Carmean said the initial test phase "demonstrated that [the company] could encode and recover 100 percent of the digital data from synthetic DNA." However, he admits that they still have a ways to go to create a commercially viable product. Scientists have been exploring the use of DNA for data storage for years. Back in 2012, Stanford researchers created rewritable DNA storage inside living cells. In the same year, a Harvard team stuffed 704 terabytes into a gram of DNA.

Twist Bioscience

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