DNA storage: the United States invests $ 50 million in research

DNA storage: the United States invests $ 50 million in research

The United States is banking on DNA storage for the future of Data Storage. The IARPA agency will spend more than $ 50 million to finance several research projects…

The volume of data generated by humanity is exploding . This is the result of the development of technologies from the fourth industrial revolution such as Big Data, artificial intelligence or the Internet of Things. To cope with this phenomenon, it is necessary to develop new storage systems.

For several years now, many researchers and companies have been exploring the path of storage in synthetic DNA . This approach has many advantages. The density of nucleic acids makes it possible to store immense volumes of data on a minimal surface. For example, a million terabytes could fit in a shoe box .

In addition, DNA can be preserved for hundreds of years without using energy. It is therefore an ideal technology for archiving cold data. In this context, the United States has decided to invest in DNA storage by funding various projects in the tens of millions of dollars.

The Molecular Information Storage (MIST) program has just been launched by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. This research program, extended over several years, aims to create a DNA-based storage system to store exabytes of data until the end of time.

Several teams of researchers will participate in the project , led by the Georgia Tech Research Institute, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Sandia National Laboratories and the US Army Research Laboratory.

The Georgia Tech team will include researchers from the University of Washington and Microsoft , who have been working on DNA storage for several years now. In March 2019, Microsoft researchers unveiled the first device dedicated to DNA storage .

The Georgia Tech project is entitled “Scalable Molecular Archival Hardware and Software” abbreviated as “SMASH”. This project has a maximum budget of $ 25 million .

In collaboration with Microsoft, researchers from the University of Washington will bring their expertise in programming, data analysis and system architecture. The partner Twist Bioscience will be responsible for designing a synthetic DNA silicone platform capable of “writing” the DNA strands containing the data.

In addition, Roswell Biotechnologies will develop DNA reading technology . Finally, researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute will focus on manufacturing techniques and on the chemical and computer processes that make the system work.

DNA storage: the French DNA Script joins the Molecular Encoding Consortium

Another project funded by the IARPA agency aims to make a prototype instrument for storing and retrieving 1 terabyte of data in 24 hours. This project has received a budget of 20.7 million euros, and involves the Molecular Encoding Consortium of the Broad Institute, Harvard University, Illumina, and the French company DNA Script . The storage system they are developing, based on nucleic acid, should make it possible to reduce the costs, the carbon footprint and the energy consumption of data storage.

Coupon: XHG8C

The enzymatic approach, developed by DNA Script for DNA synthesis, will be used for this project. This innovative approach is much faster than the chemistry-based methods commonly used today. Indeed, the lack of speed and precision are currently the main obstacles to the democratization of DNA storage. The team led by Harvard University will manufacture the chips necessary for writing the DNA strands.

The project will take place in two phases lasting two years. The goal of the first phase will be to process 10 gigabytes of data per day . The second phase, for its part, will aim for 1 terabyte of data per day.

If the projects funded by the IARPA agency reach their objectives, DNA storage could well represent the future of Data Storage . However, it will take several years for this new technology to mature …

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