Last week, scientists at the New York Genome Centre published a paper demonstrating 100% fidelity digital data storage on DNA. This is potentially interesting, because DNA is an extremely space-efficient means of storing data. I'm reminded of the mind-blowing fact that each one of my cells contains 6 billion bits/725 megabytes of DNA data crammed into a nucleus only 10 micrometres in diameter. If all the DNA in all of my cells was stretched out end to end, it would be twice the diameter of the solar system!
However, the cost of data storage is overwhelmingly driven by the energy cost of information storage and retrieval - not by the cost of physical space. That is why tape, which is very energy efficient but space inefficient, is the storage medium of choice for our portfolio company Arkivum, and Google and Amazon's longer-term storage solutions.
According to the study, done in collaboration with New York Genome Center's Dina Zielinski, this method is much more efficient than previous ones, allowing for more data to be squeezed into and out of DNA strands—fitting 215,000,000 gigabytes on one gram of DNA. Compare that to the DVD's max of 8.5 gigabytes, or the iPhone's max of 256 gigabytes.