Microsoft Project Silica – a durable medium for archiving data

By | November 5, 2019

Project Silica is still a conceptual project, but a milestone has recently been achieved here. The results of the experiment interested the Warner Bros. label.

How to archive important data? Solid state SSD media, magnetic HDD drives, or maybe tape drives? Microsoft Research scientists came up with another, innovative idea – to save the data … glass was used.

Microsoft Project Silica is a medium that will stand the test of time

Microsoft Project Silica

Project Silica is actually a 75 x 75 mm quartz glass plate 2 mm thick that can hold 76.5 GB of data. The manufacturer used here the latest discoveries in ultra-fast laser optics – the data is encoded in glass using femtosecond lasers, creating layers of three-dimensional lattices at the nanoscale (voxels), and machine learning algorithms read them by decoding images and patterns.

This type of solution has the main advantage: increased resistance to various factors. The manufacturer declares that quartz glass will withstand cooking, baking, heating with microwave waves, pouring, demagnetizing and other environmental hazards. The recorded information is said to last over 1000 years (similar to DVD M-Disc). The manufacturer declares that the data will be more difficult to destroy here than on other conventional media.

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Warner Bros. interested in using Project Silica

Project Silica is a conceptual project that has a good chance of success. Don't you believe Recently, an important milestone has been achieved here – the Microsoft Azure team managed to write and read the cult film "Superman" on a glass plate. It is true that not all information was read correctly, but apparently it is only a matter of improving the design.

Microsoft Project Silica

Microsoft boasts that successful tests attracted even the first potential investors. We know that Warner Bros. is interested in the project. The label is looking for media that would save a huge library of resources from the last century, and would last for hundreds of years, without maintaining a certain temperature or constantly refreshing the data copy. Project Silica meets these assumptions, and at the same time it would be much cheaper than currently used solutions.

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Project Silica is not perfect

Microsoft Project Silica

Unfortunately, there is no rose without thorns. This is particularly evident in the requirements of the label, which has a huge amount of material to save – it is already said that to use the project it will be necessary to increase the density of data packing and accelerate the speed of writing and reading data. Apparently it is a matter of technology development. Warner Bros. plans to prepare its own infrastructure for reading media.

Will Project Silica succeed? A lot here depends on the refinement of the project, implementation costs and the interest of companies. If you are interested in details, please contact us to the article on the Microsoft website.

Source: Microsoft

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