This paper presents an architecture for a DNA-backed archival storage system. "Demand for data storage is growing exponentially, but the capacity of existing storage media is not keeping up." All data worldwide is expected to exceed 16 zettabytes in 2017. For some, using DNA as a storage medium is a possibility because it is extremely dense. Most data today is stored on magnetic and optical media, but storage durability is another critical aspect of archiving.Spinning disks are "rated for 3–5 years, and tape is rated for 10–30 years."
A DNA storage system must overcome several challenges:
- DNA synthesis and sequencing is far from perfect, with error rates on the order of 1% per nucleotide. Stored sequences can also degrade compromising data integrity.
- Randomly accessing data in DNA-based storage results in read latency and exiting work requires the entire DNA pool be sequenced and decoded.
- Current synthesis technology does not scale: data beyond the hundreds of bits therefore cannot be synthesized as a single strand of DNA. Isolating only the molecules of interest is non-trivial