Data must be stored somewhere. However, data storage costs continue to rise and the amount of data people are producing and consuming cannot keep up with available storage. According to the Internet Data Center (IDC), global data is expected to grow from 33 zettabytes in 2018 to 175 zettabytes in 2025.
Catalog, a Boston-based startup, has come up with an innovative way to solve the problem. The startup is building a platform using synthetic DNA to store digital data and has teamed up with storage vendor Seagate Technology for a research collaboration to develop its automated DNA storage and computation platform.
The partnership will focus on automating a DNA-based storage platform using Seagate’s specially designed electronic chips.
While a conventional microprocessor processes binary code, the Seagate chip contains small reservoirs that process small amounts of synthetic DNA in liquid form; Liquid from one reservoir on the chip can be processed with liquid from another reservoir to produce a chemical reaction.
Catalog says its current prototype DNA calculation and storage platform, or DNA Writer, called Shannon, has demonstrated the potential of DNA calculation and storage as a proof-of-concept, but it is a large machine that requires significant chemistry. According to the catalog Shannon’s size is about the same as an average family kitchen.
To develop a commercially viable DNA storage platform, the catalog minimizes chemistry and increases the amount of automation required for DNA storage and enumeration.
The two companies aim to manufacture next-generation DNA-based storage and computation platforms that require less power, cost less and are 1,000 times smaller. The catalog says that their first composite exam for Chemistry and Electronics will begin in mid-September.
In addition, Seagate’s next-generation “lab on chip” technology can be embedded in desktops or used as IoT devices.
“Collaborating with an industry leader like Seagate will help accelerate our ability to advance DNA storage,” said Hyunjun Park, founder and chief executive officer. “In addition to DNA storage, Catalog has already found ways to incorporate DNA into algorithms and applications involving a wide range of cases, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics and secure computing. This work with Seagate is essential to ultimately lowering costs and reducing the complexity of storage systems.”
Technology Flow last covered Catalog when it secured $35 million in Series B funding from Hanwha Impact and Horizons Ventures, bringing its total to $60 million. Potential applications of Catalog’s technology include detecting financial fraud, image processing for fault finding, and seismic processing in the energy sector.
“Their leadership in DNA-based storage and compute, combined with Seagate’s long history of bringing innovative storage solutions to market, has the potential to accelerate the development and deployment of DNA-based solutions to address the challenges of the rapidly expanding datasphere,” said Ed Gage, vice president of Seagate Research.