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Print 25 comment(s) - last by Wwhat.. on Jul 13 at 11:38 PM

Move aside Blu-ray and HD DVD - 50TB protein discs are coming

The next generation of high density storage media may come from the most unlikely of places. According to professor V Renugopalakrishnan of Harvard's Medical School in Boston, the research he and his team are working on promises storage capacities of up to 50TB (50,000GB) on a disc the same size as a conventional DVD.

Using modified proteins from the membrane of a salt marsh microbe called halobaterium slinarum -- also known as bateriorhodopsin (bR). The proteins store data by capturing light in a very natural way. Light is converted to chemical energy, a series of intermediate molecules that are unique. The molecules then return to a "ground state", which is a chemical change in which they are all the same. Professor Renugopalakrishnan was able to modify the protein DNA so that the unique state, or "intermediate" stage, would last for years instead of breaking down in a matter of hours. With this modification, any unique intermediate state could be considered a 1 while a "ground state" could be considered a 0.

Professor Renugopalakrishnan says that the proteins can be applied to conventional discs such as DVD, to store data in large volumes. At the present time, the professor says that protein-based discs can store more than 20 times that of Blu-ray media. In future versions, discs will be able to store up to 50TB of information. Professor Renugopalakrishnan believes that this new technology will reach limits far beyond those of magnetic recording technology and could possibly replace it altogether.

DailyTech reported earlier in the week that a company called Technion R&D Foundation's Technology Incubator is in the process of developing a technology that can pack up to 1TB on a DVD-size disc. With professor Renugopalakrishnan's research, a 1TB DVD already feels too cramped.



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Bandwidth?
By HueyD on 7/12/2006 12:32:55 PM , Rating: 2
One thing they don't mention is the speed at which these proteins can change state's, low to high, high to low. "You can store 50TB of data on these dics, but it will take 2 days to get there!"




RE: Bandwidth?
By Gentleman on 7/12/2006 1:52:32 PM , Rating: 2
That is still some feat..burning 50TB in 2 days is a lot faster than modern DVDs.


RE: Bandwidth?
By xKelemvor on 7/12/2006 2:01:01 PM , Rating: 2
2 days? Hell, you can only burn about a gig per minute today. That comes to a month to write 50,000 gigs.

They'll have to come up with some sort of psycho burning drive to burn that. And you'd still be limited by bus speed and such. Burning 50 TB of data scares me. I wouldn't be able to use my PC for like a week. heh.


RE: Bandwidth?
By lennylim on 7/12/2006 3:10:12 PM , Rating: 2
Why would you want to fill up the entire disc in one go? I don't fill up my hard drives the day I install them into my machine, even with Windows...


RE: Bandwidth?
By shecknoscopy on 7/12/2006 3:50:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
One thing they don't mention is the speed at which these proteins can change state's, low to high, high to low. "You can store 50TB of data on these dics, but it will take 2 days to get there!"


Hi, all; long time. Miss me? Not even a little?

grumble...

Well, for once, my training as a biophysicist actually helps me understand something presented here in DailyTech, and frankly, I'm excited enough that I'm pretty happy my webcam's not turned on. Now, only the government can see.

The above question's an excellent one, but not really anything to worry about. Rhodopsins like bR are proton-shuttling enzymes - bacteria use them to maintain a pH balance, or to temporarily create pH gradients (between their interior and exterior environments) which can be harvested for energy. Though bR is the best characterized of the rhodopsins, just a few steps behind is Bovine PhotoRhodopsin. This - in cows, just as Human PhotoRhodopsin in us - is one of the primary light sensings mechanisms in the eye. SO, if you're interested in the speed at which the protein changes shape, think about this: the "refresh rate" for your vision is fundamentally set by the conformation-switchings of a rhodopsin. Now, in your brain, just as in these discs, the overall signal speed is actually not limited by the primary message recipient (the rhodopsin), but rather, by the machinery which transduces the signal (neurons, and their processing centers...). SO, the speed of the protein's not the limiting factor.

To give it some numbers, though, bR switches states in the pico to femtosecond time rate. That's 10^12-10^15 Hz. That's for the unaltered - or "wild-type" bR. Of course, our many-syllabled-professor's bR variant may suffer from different kinetics, but a cursory glanse at his papers doesn't imply it.

A bigger problem is that protein tends not to be as chemically stable as silicon; it's got more moving parts to it, and hence more moving parts to accidentally destroy/oxidize, etc...

...and it's more delicious. I guess that's not so much of a problem, provided that I'm not *too* drunk while burning my 50TB DVD's.


Coming our way soon...
By lewisc on 7/12/2006 7:41:35 AM , Rating: 5
This certainly seems like a 'don't hold your breath' story - the number of times we hear about new breakthroughs in this kind of technology that just don't pan out are unquantifiable.

Holographic storage, quantum computing, pretty much everything that preceeds itself with the term 'nano', you can forgive me for being a little sceptical when another technology that is around the corner is announced.




RE: Coming our way soon...
By Basilisk on 7/12/2006 8:01:55 AM , Rating: 2
And how long 'til they encounter a bug that eats this "haloba C terium"? Intuitively, proteins don't seem the safest longterm storage: "Teacher... a microbe ate my homework!" :)


RE: Coming our way soon...
By drwho9437 on 7/12/2006 6:42:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This certainly seems like a 'don't hold your breath' story - the number of times we hear about new breakthroughs in this kind of technology that just don't pan out are unquantifiable.

Holographic storage, quantum computing, pretty much everything that preceeds itself with the term 'nano', you can forgive me for being a little sceptical when another technology that is around the corner is announced.


On ARS there is a comment on a similar post about optical storage that says that holographic stuff will be commercially out this year with media made by maxell. As for quantium computing, I worked on that for 3 years. It is probably 20 years away, you will never use it though as it will require you to opperate near absolute zero.

There are plenty of 'nano' devices that get used by you all the time. The little gyroscopes that the Wii uses are probably currently micro but such things are on their way to nano. There are nano partical li-ion bat from toshiba that have very nice properties. Nano is just a the next step in smallness, it does it over used as a buzz word, because the press is stupid, but it doesn't mean everything nano is not practical.


MMMM MMM Good
By Dfere on 7/12/2006 7:52:33 AM , Rating: 5
Sure, but think about this. Late night, outa munchies? Look for a three year old game you are never gonna play again and BANG, you have a proetin snack all ready to go. Just add buttah.




RE: MMMM MMM Good
By mobutu on 7/12/2006 7:59:50 AM , Rating: 1
professor who? :)


...Renugopalakrishnan


RE: MMMM MMM Good
By eskimoe on 7/12/2006 8:27:37 AM , Rating: 2
hare hare
well of course its only natural to be skeptic about this type of inventions, but as for livespan, 'normal' discs, for example cd-rs won't last longer than a few years either, especially if not archived correctly.. and even a pressed cd, kept safe from dust and sunlight, and in complete vacuum, gets corrupted in time, because of gravity!


RE: MMMM MMM Good
By PedroDaGr8 on 7/12/2006 8:37:48 AM , Rating: 1
hahah his first name is no better
Venkatesan
I feel sorry for his kids in elementary school. If he has daughters atleast they can take on the typical unmarried last name of Kumari (like my g/f did, though for other reasons than a long difficult last name) even this guys first name is odd, I know several guys with the first name Venkatesh but not Venkatesan, and a lot with the last name Krishna but not Renugopalakrishnan
God Venkatesan Renugopalakrishnan is one hell of a name. I would just go by BOB.


protein, huh?
By Cygus on 7/12/2006 3:12:25 PM , Rating: 3
I guess if you burn it and it becomes a coaster, you could always eat it..?




RE: protein, huh?
By raisinbrainMMM on 7/12/2006 5:18:20 PM , Rating: 2
Coaster, more like toast! mmmm


Disc Protection.
By Rock Hydra on 7/12/2006 8:36:24 AM , Rating: 2
Hopefully these discs start coming with some sort of protection encasing them, cause optical discs tend to scratch easily and 1 TB of data is a LOT to lose.




RE: Disc Protection.
By Wwhat on 7/13/2006 2:03:45 PM , Rating: 2
LOL, you actually considered it as a real thing in your minds eye!


.
By Xorp on 7/12/2006 7:41:42 PM , Rating: 2
I'd rather have 25TB on a smaller disc.




RE: .
By tuteja1986 on 7/13/2006 2:48:39 AM , Rating: 2
I would rather have a disk with 200GB capacity for $1 each ;)


...
By DarthKojima on 7/12/2006 8:30:32 AM , Rating: 1
wierd name eh??




RE: ...
By dilz on 7/12/2006 11:47:19 AM , Rating: 2
That's a rather ethnocentric statement to make, Mr. "Kojima."

?????????!

:)


Incoming lawsuit alert!
By brystmar on 7/12/2006 12:34:56 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Using modified proteins from the membrane of a salt marsh microbe called halobaterium slinarum -- also known as bateriorhodopsin (bR).

Any guesses as to how long it will take Sony to sue these researchers for creating an optical storage medium with the letters "BR"?




Read out
By drwho9437 on 7/12/2006 6:36:03 PM , Rating: 2
People seem to neglect readout here. If you increase the density of data by 20x over blueray etc you need a optical system capable of resolving 20x smaller. Quite frankly that is not going to be cheap nor easy. I don't even know how it could be done optically, electron optics have those kinds of resolutions but no regular optical system that I have ever used.

Further if this is that small and light sensitive it means it better be kept in complete darkness at all times, even a few stray photons could kill your data, and that is no small task either.




never but soon
By Wwhat on 7/13/2006 2:01:49 PM , Rating: 2
I've been reading so many promissing stories like this for so many years, and yet I see no products.
I'm not even going to try to hope for it anymore.
Perhaps they can buy the technology though after they admitted blu-ray and hddvd are a dead duck and need something real.





imagine
By Wwhat on 7/13/2006 11:38:47 PM , Rating: 2
Imagine being the inventor of such a thing, you'd announce it and some guys in suits would come over with a truck full of money to make you gree to kill the development.
No hassle and quick money!




the possibilities...
By L1NUXownz1fUR1337 on 7/13/2006 12:47:02 AM , Rating: 1
just think... most of the anandtech visitors will be able to fit their pron collection on 1 disc.

One disc to rule them all...

mplayer /mnt/cdrom/*.avi





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