EAGER: Exploring Extreme-Scale DNA-based Storage Systems
Albert J. Keung
Project runs from 09/01/2016 to 08/31/2019
The world’s digital data is growing rapidly and is projected to exceed 16 zettabytes (1021) in 2017. This vast amount of digital data greatly exceeds our ability to store it even when accounting for expected advances in the storage industry. We need extraordinary advances in how we store information in order to catch up.
DNA offers a potentially transformative solution due to its high raw capacity of 1 zettabyte/cm3 (1 exabyte/mm3). To put that in perspective, the best technology available today would require 100,000 cubic meters of volume(10 GB/mm3) to store the equivalent amount of information, more than 10 to the 11th power times less dense. If successful as a storage medium, DNA could hold the world’s entire digital data in a relatively small volume. Also, DNA offers unprecedented reliability. It has a very long life even in relatively harsh conditions compared to electronic media, retaining its structure for hundreds to thousands of years at room temperature.
The overall concept of DNA storage is that extreme amounts of infrequently-accessed information will be stored in DNA, and when needed, subsets of the DNA will be copied to an electronic computer system with more limited but rapid-access storage capacity.
However, DNA is a unique material with very different chemical and physical properties compared to traditional electronic storage media. Thus, the more pertinent question for computer systems experts is determining how to design a high capacity and reliable storage system using DNA given its chemo-physical properties and constraints. This project will investigate some key limitations and design choices for DNA storage systems.