I recently picked up a 32 gig micro-SD card, and I was impressed by how much data could fit into something so small, but that's nothing compared to the research being done in DNA data storage. Science has been able to code information with DNA, but the amount of data capable of being stored was low, while the error rate was high. New techniques have allowed scientists to encode large amounts of data into DNA, including all 154 Shakespeare sonnets, a photo of their lab, a PDF file, and an MP3 of a portion of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, and to decode the information from the DNA successfully.
Researchers at IBM's
Almaden researcher lab in California are working on a 120 petabyte hard disk array
. For those of you playing along at home, that's 120 million gigabytes spread out over 200,000 hard drives. The array is being assembled for an as-of-yet unnamed client, and will be used to run complex modeling simulations, like those used in meteorology.
Here's some stats to drool over: With 120 petabytes of storage size, Technology Review
says that the array could store a trillion files, 24 billion 5 megabyte MP3s, or 60 copies of the 150 billion page Internet Archive WayBack Machine
. The largest arrays currently available are around 15 petabytes, about a tenth the size of the IBM array. Bruce Hillsberg
, the lead on the project, must be very proud of his water-cooled memory monstrosity.
Beyond its voluminous size, the IBM array has a few software tricks up its sleeve.