Microsoft showcases future of storage as it archives and retrieves 1978 Superman movie on a drink coaster-sized Quartz glass.
Microsoft at its Ignite 2019 conference showcased the future of storage solutions. The company partnered with Warner Bros. to successfully archive and retrieve 1978 ‘Superman’ movie on a piece of glass, roughly the size of a drink coaster. Measuring 75x75x 2mm, the new storage solution is part of Microsoft’s ambitious Project Silica.
Under the Project Silica, Microsoft Research leverages the recent discovering in the field of laser optics and artificial intelligence to store data on a glass (quartz). “A laser encodes data in glass by creating layers of three-dimensional nanoscale gratings and deformations at various depths and angles. Machine learning algorithms read the data back by decoding images and patterns that are created as polarized light shines through the glass,” Microsoft explained in a blog.
Microsoft claims the quartz silica glass can survive being boiled in hot water and even bakes in an oven or microwaved. The glass can also withstand other hostile environments such as demagnetization or flooding. The company says the new storage solution ensures security of archives for a longer term.
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On partnership with Warner Bros, Microsoft revealed the studio had approached the company to leverage new technology to secure its vast library of movies including radio shows, animated shorts and sitcoms among others. The studio was looking for a storage solution that can survive floods or solar flare and didn’t need much of maintenance such as temperature management or refreshing at regular intervals.
“Glass storage has the potential to become a lower-cost option because you only write the data onto the glass once. Femtosecond lasers — ones that emit ultrashort optical pulses and that are commonly used in LASIK surgery — permanently change the structure of the glass, so the data can be preserved for centuries,” Microsoft added.
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The company also pointed out that the Quartz glass doesn’t need air conditioning to keep the material at a set temperature or appliances that constantly remove moisture from the air. The solution, Microsoft said, can help reduce the environmental footprint.