When Microsoft began it’s Project Silica back in 2016, it was focusing to develop a newer type of data storage system which would completely change the way we currently store our data. It other words, it was meant to be the future hardware and software based data storage infrastructure for the cloud. As the usage of cloud based data storage continues to grow, Microsoft expects over 100 Zettabytes of data would be stored in the cloud by 2023.
Finally some good news started to come out from Microsoft regarding this project. The company has recently confirmed that it has collaborated with Warner Bros. and successfully stored and retrieved the entire “Superman” (1978) movie on a piece of silica glass roughly the size of a drink coaster which is 75 by 75 by 2 millimeters thick. This glass contains 75.6 GB of data plus error redundancy codes. This is how it looks like.
Silica Based Storage by Microsoft. © Jonathan Banks.
On this research project Microsoft discovered the potential usage of ultra-fast laser optics and artificial intelligence to store data in quartz glass. Though the initial capacity of this storage may not sound all that amazing, Microsoft expects to increase the capacity in the future. One more important aspect of this discs is its longevity and stability. Microsoft posted the following audio-less video on their YouTube channel to demonstrate this new technology.
Azure’s chief technology officer Mark Russinovich stated that,”Storing the whole ‘Superman’ movie in glass and being able to read it out successfully is a major milestone.” He added, “I’m not saying all of the questions have been fully answered, but it looks like we’re now in a phase where we’re working on refinement and experimentation, rather asking the question ‘can we do it?’.”