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Microsoft buys DNA to store digital data

The software giant is experimenting with laboratory-made DNA to cope with the growing amount of data being created.

The singularity may be closer than we thought.

Microsoft is buying 10 million strands of laboratory-grade DNA from Twist Bioscience that it will use to encode digital data, the companies said in a press release. The DNA strands -- long oligonucleotides -- are being studied as a potential replacement for conventional storage mediums, which have limited lifespans and low density.

"As our digital data continues to expand exponentially, we need new methods for long-term, secure data storage," said Doug Carmean, a member of Microsoft's technology and research group. Carmean said initial tests demonstrated 100 percent of digital data it encoded on DNA could be recovered.

The companies said the quantity of digital data being created is roughly doubling every two years but the means of storing that data isn't keeping pace. A single gram of DNA can store 1 trillion gigabytes and last for 2,000 years, they said.