New advances have just been announced in the Project Silica initiative, which seeks to create a new data storage system on the glass. The researchers working on this project promise a cheaper, more reliable, more durable, and non-volatile technology, which will surpass all aspects of the optical media that the industry wants to launch in the future.
Since 2013, Microsoft Research engineers have been working on creating a new data carrier made of glass, and a few months ago they presented what would be the first version of a high-density glass data carrier. Using a high-speed, high-precision laser on a sheet of glass just 2 millimeters thick, the researchers managed to record the classic Superman movie in high resolution, and then read the data.
This project is not the only one in the field of optical storage, as other major industrial firms and research laboratories are working on developing their glass or glass storage versions. In the case of Microsoft, the researchers have created the basic storage unit in this type of crystalline structures, which they call voxel, and its technology is capable of stacking numerous layers of voxels, each one capable of holding several bits of data that they would be read at different polarities and delay times.
As Ant Rowstron, principal investigator and deputy director of the Microsoft Research Lab laboratory in Cambridge (England) recently commented, one of the advantages provided by this technology is that the data is not on the glass, but “on the glass”, which allows you to take full advantage of physical support. Although the technology faces significant challenges since, according to Rowstron, “the writing process is difficult to make reliable and repeatable, and so is minimizing the time it takes to create a voxel.” Also, he states that “the reading process has been a challenge to discover how to read the data from the glass using the minimum possible signal.”
To advance along this path, scientists have developed a series of error correction codes that improve the precision and reliability of the system. Although in a recent article published in IEEExplore they point out that researchers are still refining their machine learning algorithms to improve the conditions of the reading process. Although they have not shared specific data, they claim that writing speeds have improved by several orders of magnitude since they started the project.
As a curious fact, and based on the supposed resistance of this support over time, they are thinking of creating a kind of glass Rosetta Stone that could help decode the information stored in the distant future. This is currently impossible with the magnetic, electrical, or even optical storage systems in use today. Perhaps this is a preview of what the lab could use to kick-start your next presentation.