The DNA Data Storage Alliance, an organization of more than 25 leading companies including Western Digital, Illumina, Microsoft Research, and Twist Bioscience, founded in October 2020, has launched its first white paper titled ‘Preserving our Digital Legacy: An Introduction to DNA Data Storage.’ Their mission is to create and promote an interoperable storage ecosystem based on manufactured DNA as a data storage medium.
The primary goal of the DNA Data Storage Alliance is to educate and promote public knowledge about this new technology. In addition, as commercially viable DNA data storage methods and tools become better understood and more widely available, the Alliance will consider developing specifications and standards (e.g., encoding, physical interfaces, retention, file systems) to encourage the emergence of interoperable DNA data storage-based solutions that may complement existing storage hierarchies.
“It’s undeniable that data growth is outpacing the scalability of today’s storage solutions. Literally, everything we do revolves around data – and capturing, storing, processing and mining it only serves to create even more data,” said Steffen Hellmold, vice president, corporate strategic initiatives, Western Digital. “The density and stability of DNA storage will help the industry cost-effectively cope with the expected future growth of archival data for many decades to come.”
Another important feature of DNA as a storage media is its immutability. The physical structure and format of the media, as well as the methods used to read and write to it, are fundamentally linked in current storage systems. The structure of DNA, on the other hand, would ensure that any generation of DNA readers and writers can read and write DNA as long as the bit encoding formats are preserved.
“The method for reading back data – either periodically to check data quality, or when needed for processing – is critically important in the life sciences as well as for data storage. Due to DNA’s universal format, DNA media will always be readable and writable,” said Alex Aravanis, M.D., Ph.D., chief technology officer at Illumina. “We continue to drive sequencing technology forward at a rapid rate, with new applications like DNA data storage, and anticipate an active role in this market.”
Enabling Massive Digital Data Storage
“In addition to density, stability and eternal relevance, DNA data storage provides a far more sustainable option, requiring negligible space and energy when compared to current data centers that use an ever-growing amount of power and land,” said Emily M. Leproust, Ph.D., CEO and co-founder of Twist Bioscience. “Taken together, DNA’s storage density, durability and minimal maintenance costs radically reduce the cost of maintaining digital data in DNA over time, making it a viable option for long-term archival data retention.”
“The intersection of the trend toward massive digital data storage needs with our ability to manipulate synthetic DNA offers a vision of data archival ability that could radically change the scale of what we store and how long we store it,” said Karin Strauss, senior principal research manager at Microsoft Research. “Preserving our digital legacy in turn opens possibilities to extract, and even create or discover, new knowledge.”
The white paper ‘Preserving our Digital Legacy: An Introduction to DNA Data Storage’ can be downloaded for free here (Adobe PDF download).
Additional white papers on use cases, business prospects, and requirements are expected from the DNA Data Storage Alliance. For more information on new whitepapers to be published, visit their website, https://www.dnastoragealliance.org/.