Microsoft's research division has revealed its innovative project called Project Silica, aiming to engender a progressive storage technology using glass plates. Project Silica is a unique and ambitious venture that seeks to encode vast amounts of data within a simple glass plate.
The proposed technology involves a four-pronged procedure including: writing data using an ultrafast femtosecond laser, reading the data through a computer-aided microscope, decoding the data, and lastly, assigning the data to a library for storage. Notably, the data housing units are designed to consume zero electricity, thus significantly reducing the overall power use compared to conventional cloud data centers.
Glass Storage Capacity and Durability
As of the current phase, the technology allows storage of several terabytes of data on a demure glass plate, a capacity that can last for a minimum of 10,000 years. The glass plates' petite size affords the system diminutive space needs, making it a space-efficient alternative to existing cloud-based storage centers.
Moreover, the glass plates demonstrate robust resistance to electromagnetic pulses, granting them a remarkable potential for long-term data preservation under diverse environmental conditions. This key feature marks an impressive step forward in the development of eco-friendly storage solutions.
Microsoft Collaborations and Commercial Viability
Seeking further application of this technology, Microsoft has partnered with a venture group known as Elire, primarily focusing on establishing the Global Music Vault in Svalbard, Norway. This venture intends to utilize the Project Silica technology for music storage, achieving an environmentally default storage solution.
However, Microsoft reports that the glass-based data storage technology is still under development and is not yet commercially available. It envisions the need for three to four additional developmental stages prior to achieving commercial viability. Upon successful completion of these stages, Microsoft Azure cloud centers could potentially incorporate Project Silica's technology in the future, offering users a novel solution for storing their photos, videos, audio, and documents.
Microsoft research into glass storage through Project Silica has been ongoing for a number of years. In 2019, the company achieved a breakthrough by partnering with Warner Bros. to store the 1978 “Superman” movie on Quartz glass.