At the Ignite 2019 conference, Microsoft showcased Project Silica, an innovative method of storing data on glass. The company partnered with Warner Bros. archive the original 1978 “Superman” movie on this storage medium, or a glass disk measuring 75 by 75 by 2 millimeters thick. It uses infrared lasers to encode data in “voxels,” the three-dimensional equivalent of the pixels that make up a flat image, and stores data within the glass itself. How much data can it store? Well, a 2-mm-thick piece of glass can contain more than 100 layers of voxels, which is roughly 75.6 GB of data plus error redundancy codes. Read more for a video and additional information.
The main goal for this project is to store “cold” data, or archival data that may have tremendous value or that companies are required to maintain, but doesn’t need frequent access. This might include medical data that spans the patient’s entire life, financial regulation data, legal contracts, geologic information for energy exploration as well as building plans that cities may need to archive.
We are not trying to build things that you put in your house or play movies from. We are building storage that operates at the cloud scale. One big thing we wanted to eliminate is this expensive cycle of moving and rewriting data to the next generation. We really want something you can put on the shelf for 50 or 100 or 1,000 years and forget about until you need it,” said Ant Rowstron, partner deputy lab director of Microsoft Research Cambridge in the United Kingdom, which collaborated with University of Southampton to develop Project Silica.