Boston-based Catalog, a startup company focused on solving the looming data storage crisis, has announced to the press that it has received $9 million in funding from several venture capital firms. The funding will go toward the development of a new technique for storing digital data on synthetic DNA strands. Reps for the company claim that the new technique overcomes problems encountered by other companies attempting to do the same thing.
As has been widely noted in the press over the past couple of years, the world is heading toward a data storage crisis—the world is on course to produce more data than can be stored on the storage devices that will be available. For that reason, scientists have been frantically searching for ways to increase the storage capacity of current devices or to develop entirely new technology to do the job. One promising technology is synthetic DNA strands. It is an idea that has been studied extensively, but up until now, such efforts have been found to be too slow and expensive. Representatives of Catalog claim the company has solved these problems. They also claim that the technique they have developed will store up to a terabyte of data on a single gram-sized DNA pellet. They say the data will be accessible by a machine that reads CATG sequencing and converts it back to its original binary form.
Specific details of the technology are being closely guarded by the company, but workers at the firm have revealed that their process involves storing small samples of DNA that correspond to strings of binary data—which can be pooled to form bigger files. The approach, they note, is similar in some respects to a library. Prior approaches have taken a more straightforward path, laying down strings of data on DNA molecules. That, reps for Catalog note, requires far more storage and much bigger files. Their plan is to purchase small DNA fragments from a company that makes them and use their in-house technology and expertise to write and read data.