Revolutionize the way we store and protect data. The experimentation of Microsoft Researchthe research and development arm of the Redmond giant, which aims to offer the possibility of store huge amounts of data on glass plates in a futuristic initiative called “Project Silica”. If successful, they could be used to store information for thousands of years without any deterioration.
Microsoft, the future of data storage is in glass
Microsoft’s Project Silica is based on the idea of using glass as a medium for long-term data storage through the use of three-dimensional pixels called voxels. Traditional methods such as spinning magnetic disks have a limited lifespan and require frequent copying, increasing energy consumption and operating costs.
On the contrary, the glass plates the size of a coaster developed by the R&D division are built for resist thousands of years without degrading. This means that data can be stored securely and efficiently for generations, a turning point that is also sustainable in the world of information storage.
Storing data in glass is one procedure which is divided into four phases. It starts by writing data using an ultra-fast femtosecond laser. Then, the data is read through a computer-controlled microscope, decoded and stored in a library.
The library is passive, with no need for electricity in any of the storage units. Instead, robotic systems manage the recovery process of data, climbing onto shelves to get glass disks when necessary.
The promise of storing terabytes of data safely for millennia
In reality, this concept is not entirely new. Already in the 19th century, glass plates were used to preserve individual photographic negatives. What sets Project Silica apart is its ability to harness the potential of a small glass disk for storage several terabytes of data for 10,000 years.
To get an idea, just think that a single plate could store approximately 3,500 films or 1.75 million songs. Additionally, once written on the glass, the data cannot be changed, providing an additional layer of security.
Experts believe they may be necessary three or four stages of development before it becomes commercially viable. However, the benefits are clear: durability, sustainability and cost efficiency. Major expenses are incurred during the initial stages of embedding data onto these rugged glass disks, but ongoing maintenance costs are minimal.
Silica project in Svalbard with the Elire Group
Elire, a venture capital group focused on sustainability, is collaborating with Microsoft Research’s Project Silica team to put this technology at the service of “Global Music Vault” in Svalbard, Norway. Using silica-based glass sheetsthe company aims to create a permanent archive that not only resists electromagnetic pulses and extreme temperatures, but is also environmentally friendly.
This repository will complement the Global Seed Vault and the Arctic World Archive and provide a Complete archive for musical heritagepreserving classic works, modern hits and indigenous compositions for future generations.
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